COVID-19 sees trained actor Jamie pivot his career

Jamie is wearing a blue denim jacket and white shirt. He is standing outside in front of trees and looking side on at the camera.From rushing between an array of auditions, to featuring in a multi-award winning film, no two days were the same for Melbourne-based actor Jamie in a pre-pandemic world. While work wasn’t as consistent as a typical 9-5 gig, he never questioned his career choice and his passion for acting.

But when 2020 saw the start of a worldwide pandemic, for the first time in Jamie’s life, he was faced with the reality of having to consider other employment avenues. The effects of COVID-19 saw a number of industries forced into a temporary slumber, with the entertainment sector being one of the hardest hit.

The abrupt halt of film and television production meant Jamie was unable to actively audition for his next role. Weeks turned into months, and it wasn’t long until Jamie realised he needed to seek alternative employment.

After discovering WISE Employment through social media in July 2020, Jamie decided to try his luck and reach out for support. “I felt like it was meant to be when I came across all the work WISE Employment does for those living with a mental illness and how they champion people to break down the barriers associated with them,” he said.

“I’ve experienced anxiety and depression, particularly in my adult years, which is ironic as my career demands a great deal of confidence to perform in front of large crowds. But my mental illness always made it difficult for me to commit to long-term work.”

It wasn’t long until Jamie was put in touch with two dedicated WISE Employment support workers, Rianne and Tanya who assisted him in finding long-term employment. Understanding that Jamie had never previously worked with an employment agency, their roles involved supporting him through the process and ensuring he was feeling comfortable and confident.

“When Jamie first approached WISE, we sat down to really uncover his passions and what made him tick outside of acting. I wanted to ensure the work we secured for him, suited his personality and wasn’t just a cookie cutter solution,” said Rianne.

When a job opening as a Nursery Hand for Haar’s Nursery became available, Rianne and Tanya made sure Jamie felt empowered applying for a role in which he had no previous experience. They organised all the relevant training, and supported him in preparing for the interview process. After just two months with WISE, Jamie landed the role in September 2020.

It didn’t take long for him to settle nicely into his casual role as a nursery hand, working closely with other members of the team.

Jamie’s manager Saugat quickly realised his potential and dedication to the job. “Jamie stood out to me from the very beginning. He was always punctual and took every task I gave him with gumption,” Saugat says.

“I never saw gardening as a way to make an income, so it was nice to see myself thrive in the role thanks to the support from WISE and Haar’s Nursery. My manager Saugat is well aware of my limitations and has done everything in his power to ensure I feel supported,” noted Jamie.

“My role has taught me a lot and it gives me the opportunity to get my hands dirty and look after the plants within the greenhouse.”

While Jamie is more than settled in his role, WISE Employment still pencils in consistent catch ups to see how he is going.

“Every couple of weeks, my post placement support worker Kathleen checks in with me, ensuring I still feel supported and heard. Even though I’ve been in this role for nearly a year, I can see that WISE really prides itself on developing long term relationships to ensure sustainable progress in the workforce.” said Jamie.

“I’ll always have a passion for acting, but I’m so grateful to WISE for helping me discover these new-found skills. I couldn’t be happier.”

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