When the Royal Shakespeare Company requests that YOU specifically work on a project for them, then you know you have chosen the right career path.
And it seems that’s exactly what Ballymoney student Nicola Clyde has done by following a career in television production in London.
Since Christmas, Nicola has worked at the National Television Awards looking after Dermot O’leary, has gained an internship on the Clare Balding Show and been personally requested by the RSC to work on production for them - all this while studying at university AND holding down a part-time job in a bar.
The former Ballymoney High School student chatted to the Times last week when she was at home in Ballymoney “for a rest”.
Nicola studied a BTEc in Media, Television and Film at the Ballymoney campus of the Northern Regional College.
During her time there, her evident talent shone through as she was shortlisted for a Royal Television Society Award - not once but twice.
RTS Ireland shortlisted her for a student drama she produced and the following year, she was a finalist in the RTS NI awards for a documentary.
After NRC, Nicola moved on to study for a BA (Hons) degree in Digital Television Production at the University of Ravensbourne in London.
Now in her second year, Nicola’s “lucky break” came when she met a contact in the television industry.
“She got me into This Morning for two weeks during the summer where I worked as a studio runner,” said Nicola.
“That means looking after guests, helping the production managers, working in the office in the afternoons doing research etc.
“Eamonn Holmes was just lovely and we had a chat about the Northern Ireland connection.
“After that, the same contact got me work at the NBA Basketball event in the O2 Arena in London for BT Sport and following from that I also worked on the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Aston Villa.
“That involved working for the gallery crew, bringing them team sheets etc so that we could organise graphics for the match coverage.”
Through her work with BT Sport, Nicola then gained a ten week internship working on the Clare Balding Show which continues until June this year.
“I am a guest runner on the show which means I look after every guest in the programme. We have three guests per show and I have to meet and greet them, look after them, make sure they get to make-up etc on time and don’t get lost on the way to the studio! I just have to ensure that they have a good time while they are in the studio.
“The placement worked so well for me as I have a Tuesday off from my uni studies and that’s the day I work on the Clare Balding Show. It fell so lucky for me.”
To date Nicola has looked after Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll, boxers Chris Eubank senior AND junior and champion jockey AP McCoy. “A lovely fella,” said Nicola.
In January, Nicola then moved on to work on the National Television Awards.
Anyone who has ever followed a soap such as Coronation Street or Eastenders will know what a high profile event this is in the television calendar.
“I spent two days working in the office, organising transport and taking and receiving bookiong calls. I was looking after Dermot O’Leary and, for example, we discovered that he had an interview scheduled for before the show so I have to rearrange timings etc, organise that and lisaise with his agent over it.
“On the day of the live show, I was working in the O2 arena, labelling seats, escorting nominees and looking after guests. It was brilliant and quite surreal turning around to see the entire cast of Hollyoaks, for example.
“I was assisting Dermot O’Leary’s runner so we had to make sure that everyone got from the red carpet to the arena on time.”
Then in February, Nicola achieved her first teleivsion screen credit while working on the popular quiz Celebrity Squares with host Warwick Davies.
“That was just the best five days ever!” said Nicola.
“It was so exciting to get my first TV credit and it will be great for my CV. Once you get into television, it’s not about what you know but about who you know and if you make a good impression when you do get a break, you will get more work.
“My mum and dad Christine and Nevin Clyde were very proud seeing my name on the screen too.
“On Celebrity Squares we each got a celebrity to look after. You had to make sure that you got them in and out of hair and make-up on time because if you were late, the timings were ruined as you have a live studio audience sitting there ready.
“On my first day I had to look after the chef Gino D’Acampo and then I got motorcyclist Carl Fogarty.
“We had a great chat about bikes and it was a great conversation builder when I said that Joey Dunlop used to live on the same road as me and how my brother worked in Joey’s Bar. We had a great conversation then.”
From TV celebrities to the most esteemed theatre company in the world, Nicola’s budding career didn’t stop with Celebrity Squares.
She also worked closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company on a project where a live performance in Straford on Avon was streamed out to 240 schhools through the UK.
Starting as a production assistant, the RSC client then asked specifically that Nicola be producer on the next project which was also aired in USA.
She has also recently worked on a Sky Arts programme with comedian and actor Lenny Henry.
“It has been an exciting year,” said Nicola who is still studying for her degree.
“I would love to write for the soaps but that is a very difficult industry to beak into so at the moment I am enjoying what I am doing.
“I’d like to express my thanks to my tutors Stephen Price, Stuart Cullen, Robert Skelly and John Mairs from the NRC Ballymoney Campus. Without their teaching, support and advice I wouldn’t have gone to London.
“I am going to focus on guest running and talent running and hopefully eventually filter into production and one day be a producer or floor manager.”