My Graduate Journey by GSA graduate, Kelsie McDonald

Portrait of GSA graduate Kelsie McDonald

G’Day! I’m Kelsie, an Aussie actress who graduated with a master’s degree from the Guildford School of Acting & University of Surrey in 2017. This is my graduate story…


from my hometown of Brisbane, Australia to attend Uni, I was no stranger to adventure, but I never could have predicted where life would lead after GSA.


entering the “real world” was harder than I expected, acting auditions don’t often just fall into your lap. I quickly realised that I needed to build a reputation before doors would open, so some GSA classmates and I started making our own work. By developing a devised theatre project from part of our degree into a play, we took ‘Lovers Anonymous’ to the London Fringe and from there launched ‘Encompass Theatre Collective’ which has since taken new, devised theatre pieces through England and Europe.


with another classmate from my master’s within his aspiring film company Espectro MX Films. Within this company I was encouraged to not only act but write, produce and production design. Truthfully, this was a little scary at first, as I felt pretty ‘under-qualified’, but thankfully having had the opportunity to dabble in other aspects of production during GSA I found these production roles came naturally and I began enjoying telling stories in another way other than acting.


After working on six short films with Espectro MX as both an actor and within production, I landed the role as Production Designer on a UK feature film. This film gave me the chance to cut my teeth on a larger scale project with a team of real professionals and has since opened many doors for me.

At this moment I find myself wrapping an incredible feature film in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I have had the pleasure of playing the lead female role. So, in a roundabout way, by saying yes to many opportunities within film and theatre but outside the realm of acting, I’ve ended up in my dream acting role and working in many different countries around the world.

It’s still very early days and I have a million more dreams to bring to life, but I couldn’t be happier for the phenomenal journey my life has taken since and thanks to my GSA experience.

GSA graduate Kelsie McDonald on a film set


to any final year GSA actors I’d say: Firstly, your classmates and your teachers are your first and some of the best contacts. If you collaborate and work as a team you will help lift one another to higher places. Don’t make it a competition, make it a family.

Secondly, the facilities that the University offers are state of the art. Use the film equipment and the theatre spaces to make your own work in your own time so that when you graduate you already have a portfolio to show. It’s this that’s given me the confidence and know-how to take control of my career.