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Chantelle-Shakila Tiagi

Founder | Executive Producer & Agent –  www.cstiagi.com

BA Theatre Arts, 2012

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I really wanted to stay in London to be close to my family. Middlesex was close enough to the centre of London but not too close so I still felt I was getting the full university vibe!

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I wanted to study drama and after a few successful auditions at drama schools, I realised I wanted to learn the practical elements of drama but in a more diverse setting, which Middlesex offered.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I loved the fact the course offered such a variety of modules. There aren't many places that offer a stand up comedy module for example. This really threw me in the deep end.

What were the facilities like at your institution?

They were well kept well and the main theatre was a great space that could be used in many different ways.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

I really enjoyed the comedy trip. They took us away for a weekend to work on our pieces before our performance and needless to say it was very funny!

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Take every opportunity to meet people and get involved in things. It's especially good to get to know people from other courses as you never know when they may be helpful in the future!

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?

Although I have moved from the field of drama into the fashion industry, it gave me the confidence I needed in order to forge a successful career in fashion. The professionalism I learnt from being in shows etc is a very transferrable skill and has really helped me when being on a shoot or talking with clients.

Can you give an example of a time when you put the things you learned at Middlesex to practical use?

There are many aspects of my Middlesex experience that have helped me in my current career. The main one is the confidence I acquired. As a drama student, I was used to performing in front of peers and public speaking. This experience has proven particularly useful when I've had to make speeches at events or even just taking charge on set and co-ordinating everyone.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

It was a bit of an accident but most of my internships had developed in to fashion/pr placements so it seemed the smart move.

Having not actually wanted to work in fashion originally has proven to be a big benefit as it keeps me grounded, means I take it all as it comes and have lots of room to grow.

How did you get your first foot on the career ladder?

I made a conscious effort to work/intern in relevant fields as much as possible during university and the long holidays we had off. This meant by the time I had graduated I had three years' worth of work experience and a degree which set me apart from other graduates who were only just starting internships.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

I've been fortunate enough to work with some incredible clients and brands quite early on in my career, now I have branched out with my own ventures, this has been a real highlight.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

Make sure you intern and get work experience. The earlier you do this, the stronger your position will be when you leave university. Everyone has a degree these days, it just isn't enough. Companies need to know you understand the industry and the environment and that is a totally different ball game.

Don't give up and keep in touch with people. If someone offers you an opportunity, take it - even if it was said very casually or in a non-work environment. Chase it!

People with the power to help others are more likely to help someone within their circle, which is why it is so important to keep in touch. Even if they don't have anything that suits you at the time, they may remember you when they do.

Always be humble. It's very easy to get swept away in the glitter and glamour of creative industries. People will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Everyone started somewhere, so no matter how successful that person you look up to is, they were you once too. So when you get to the top, the best way to stay there is to make sure you treat everyone with respect.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Sleep more, eat better, drink less, study harder!

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