Women in the Entertainment Industry: Anna Tompkins
We are asking women in the entertainment industry around the world some key questions about their life and career. Here is Anna Tompkins based in Jacksonville, FL USA, but she considers herself as a global citizen.
1. In which part of the industry do you work?
Rigging and Automation, and occasionally unsolicited back-up vocals
2. Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women in the entertainment industry? How have they inspired you?
When I was just starting out as a technician, I was almost always the only woman around, particularly as a carpenter, then later into rigging. I remember actually meeting other women in the field all those years ago and it was weird. All of us were probably secretly sizing each other up like, ‘Is she worthy? Has she had to put up with the same amount of shot that I have?’ Admittedly, it took a lot of getting used to at first after dealing solely with Y chromosomes and then finally having some common ground. But the most inspiring thing to me that I have seen from so many, is how natural at their jobs these ladies were. No one asking for hand outs or exemptions. No one pulling the girl card (except perhaps in jest). All just doing their things and quietly (though sometimes not) convincing everyone else that the gender gap can and should be a non-issue. One day I truly hope this is not even something we have to talk about…one day.
3. What would you tell young women who are just starting out? What would you like them to know?
Do what you wanna be!! Imagine what kind of person you want to become and do the things that will get you there. Don’t settle for others’ expectations or lack-luster dreams, you’ll just be disappointed. Go be your fine, weird, badass self and take over the world!
4. What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Just go do what makes you happy. Get that promotion, stay where you are, or opt for the dirty job, it doesn’t matter. Your career doesn’t have to be a ladder or even a straight line; but when you stop enjoying what you do it’s time to make a change and maybe take a side trail for a while.
5. Please share one of your toughest challenges in your career. How did you overcome?
It took me a long time to think about this because, to be honest, challenges are everywhere and I mostly don’t think much about them after they’re resolved since there is always another one around the corner that needs my focus. Having said that, something that I see on almost every job and am somehow still surprised by, is complacency. Whether it’s folks that have been in one place for too long, they don’t feel challenged, and/or they don’t enjoy their work, the results are typically the same; apathy, overlooking key details, and often a bad attitude. As we know, in our line of work, any of those things can lead to some pretty serious and possibly dangerous outcomes. So what do you do? For me, I try to learn whatever I can about a show. Get to know the performers, cross train, run through rescue scenarios, anything that makes it personal; because when it’s personal and your colleagues are your family, it’s easy to find something interesting in a show that you have run 400 times, it’s easy to fill out the same inspections, and it’s easy to take joy in the fact that we get to entertain others for money. It’s not just a job, but when it feels like it, find something new. Challenges can be obstacles or a stepping stones, it just depends on how you approach it.
6. What is your favorite musical or play?
That answer is constantly changing, but at the moment it’s a tie between Hairspray and Into the Woods.
7. What is your morning routine?
0600 — wake up, coffee, read/study/organize day.
0730-1000 — M,W,F Weightlifting into calisthenics T,Th,Sa Cardio/Voice Training Sun Active meditation/personal projects
1030 — Adult
8. Drink of Choice?
Americano, Hot with a splash of heavy cream.
9. What is a phrase you are known for saying?
Y’all have fun now!
10. If you are not a mother and are willing to share your reasons, we would love to celebrate those choices. Please feel free to share your journey.
I have never really had the urge to settle down. There are so many things I have yet to do and I feel as though having kids is an adventure I’m not ready to at the moment. Having said that, in my personal musings I imagine I would be quite content adopting a few sibling groups and finding a way to teach them the glories of nomadic life; how to appreciate simplicity, love and support one another, and give them the resources to grow and work to become the little badasses of their dreams.
11. What advice would you give to other women in the industry?
Find the gear that fits your person, your style, and suits your needs; love and cherish it. Also, don’t let friends borrow your tape measures, they always come back broken.
Other Women in the Entertainment Industry:
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