As a young filmmaker, I attended acting school at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) with Emma Watson (pictured above with my friend Nico in the foyer of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London).
Back in 2008, when I attended RADA, I had only a vague awareness of Emma Watson's previous work in film; her attendance at the acting school was without fanfare; and it was only after a few days passed that I approached her in the RADA canteen and said earnestly, "You look just like that girl from Harry Potter," to which Emma replied, "I am that girl from Harry Potter."
Off the stage, I was a relatively quiet student at RADA bewitched by the legend of this world-famous institution. Although Emma and I were in the same auditorium for each-others' final-performances, I didn't see her much again until a party which she held at Shoreditch House to celebrate the end of our time at RADA.
On this final occasion that we met, Emma's clothes were soaked and she was dripping water onto the floor of the club. Emma told me that she had been thrown into the rooftop pool of the club by a group of fellow RADA students.
Emma seemed distressed by this assault (and I think it is fair to call it that) and was visibly shaken. The moment stuck strongly in my memory as it seemed to encapsulate my feelings about RADA throughout my 'training' there. As Emma stood, dripping pool-water onto the carpet of Shoreditch House, I felt very much like she looked: near-drowned by RADA and those who orbit it; confused about how to react to the shock; and determined to maintain a brave face despite it all.
Of course, what these RADA-trained students ultimately dealt Emma in the pool was nothing compared to the private assaults I, and others, experienced at the hands of some teachers at the drama school.
On reflection, attending RADA often dealt students a vivid shock that was comparable to being aggressively thrown into a pool. Teachers we trusted could suddenly turn on us, and it is perhaps for this reason that the image of Emma Watson; drenched-in-water; and sad, has remained with me for so many years.
Of course, I emerged from my time at RADA with an impressive-looking certificate and I, like many, students, were quick to hide our wounds and even to praise the school in the years that followed. There is a tendency in survivors to live in a state of denial for some time after trauma; to pretend (even to ourselves) that we were not hurt. We were, after all, 'professional' actors now the RADA certificate said so. We could simply act like we were fine. Who would know?
For many young actors, the 'gravitas' of attending schools like RADA is so great that it is unthinkable that we might afterwards critique it. Besides, who would believe what was done to actors by some of the teachers there? What chance would an actor who spoke out against RADA have of finding work?
There are other considerations: What of the brilliant teachers among whom the ghouls of RADA hide? For example, my acting coach, Brigid Paterson, who did not abuse me at RADA. I owe many of my skills in acting to her careful guidance, and her affiliation with RADA makes it all the more complex to unravel how the systems of abuse at RADA and other acting schools function.
To describe the problem as briefly as possible: schools like RADA do require good teachers to function. Without any merit to any teacher there, the school would collapse. However, these 'good' teachers must still consider their culpability; specifically, a severe lack of vigilance in assessing the risks posed by the abusive teachers.
In the years that followed my attendance at RADA, I began to learn more about how abusive networks operate. These groups require an outer-layer of acceptability; kindness; professionalism. This is typically provided by naieve members of the group who are unaware of the clandestine activities of the 'inner circle' of the group. In other words, brilliant teachers at RADA, like Brigid, unknowingly provide cover for the abusers elsewhere in the school. These good-teachers are used like the 'disguise' which the wolf wears in Little Red Riding Hood. They create a veneer of integrity.
At this point it is worth briefly considering why RADA is organized like this. Why would RADA comprise of some brilliant teachers, but a significant number of abusers? The answer to this question is best understood by comparing the system at RADA to the system employed during military training.
Those who run RADA presumably seek to train great actors, but with a tremendous caveat: These 'trained' actors must remain under the control of the 'trainers'. Just as a soldier is brutalized into following orders above all else, so too did I witness myself and others 'militarized' by RADA; effectively programmed never to use our acting skills to unseat establishment power; only to advance it.
Understanding the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art also requires a serious deconstruction of its eponymous benefactors, the British Royal Family. For brevity, consider this question: Is the 'royal' imposition of power over the British citizenry, and other territories, sustained by love, kindness, and intelligence? Or is it sustained by centuries of militarized-violence, genocide, colonialism and, more recently, trips to Epstein's island?
Sadly, an honest confrontation with those who claim to be 'royal' reveals them, throughout history, to be violent thugs. So, why are these well-evidenced thugs patrons of a major acting school? What influence might the 'royals' seek to wield via popular drama?
How might the 'royals' control actors and prevent them using what they have learned at RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) to challenge and confront entrenched power systems? Are the 'royals' timid about using violence, even sexual violence, to maintain power?
Now that we know the truth about the relationship between royalty and child-torture, should the name and insignia of the British crown — a known pedophile-ring — be anywhere near a major acting school?
Photographed above: Pedophiles Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell lounging at the (now dead) British Queen's private log-cabin at Balmoral castle. Her son, Andrew, is also known to have raped children with Jeffrey Epstein, while her other son, Charles, was best-friends with notorious pedophile Jimmy Savile; who the Queen knighted (as she did many other famous pedophiles).