Joanna Scanlan: Boarding school did not give me skills I needed for adult life

·2-min read

The Thick Of It and W1A actress Joanna Scanlan has said her girls boarding school did not provide her with “the life skills required to support my adult life”.

The Welsh TV star said she had not “worked out the basics” of how to be a grown-up.

Writing a letter to her younger self in The Big Issue, she said: “I was confident that I had talent, enough to sufficiently be able to give acting a good go.

“But I was not confident that I had the temperament to be an actor, because it does require you to be able to handle a lot of knocks.

“I hit a major brick wall in my twenties. I think it was about not having the life skills required to support my adult life.

“Although my girls boarding school had been a very nice place to be, with my friendships and all the wonderful teaching we had and all the theatre and everything, I hadn’t grown up.

“I hadn’t worked out the basics about living an adult life. I was extremely naive.”

Scanlan said this applied particularly to her romantic life, adding: “I rushed headlong into relationships with boys which just broke my heart.

“I was like a Labrador puppy galloping towards the jaws of a crocodile.

“Curiosity took me into dangerous situations and places and experiences that I wasn’t equipped to handle at that point. I’d tell my younger self, you need support. This isn’t something you can do alone.”

The actress and writer, who has been nominated for a string of Baftas, has become a regular of TV comedies and dramas, starring in shows such as Getting On, No Offence and The Accident, but said she is still surprised by her success.

She said: “I know this will sound ridiculous, but I think the thing that would surprise the younger me most about my life now – and it still surprises me every day – is that anybody would rate me and want to work with me.

“I know it sounds silly because I should have enough evidence by now to prove that is the case. But every time somebody says, ‘Oh, would you like to do this?’ or ‘We’d like to talk to you about that, I’m like, ‘Really? Me?’

“Maybe that Labrador puppy is still inside me somewhere. I’m still surprised every single day that I’m allowed to join the club and play the game.”

The full interview is in The Big Issue, out now.

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