Nicola ‘steps up’

Nicola Webley, from Barry, worked in Theatre for fifteen years as part of the Costume Department. 

Nicola decided it was time to move home to Wales and was looking at how she could get into working in costume in TV. Thanks to the ‘Stepping Up’scheme, Nicola was given the opportunity to shadow the Costume Department at Casualty, here’s what she had to say: 

What does your day to day work entail? 

My day to day work includes a crazy early start! It’s my responsibility to make sure any laundry is ready for the day ahead and that everything has been pressed, steamed and ready to go. We’ll then sit down together and discuss the slides for the day, this way we can pinpoint any costume changes. Once the actors start to arrive, they will dress themselves and before they go to set, we’ll make sure every actor looks the way we want/ need them to for the filming. I’ve been given the freedom to go on set and refer to the continuity database which has been really interesting. At the end of the day, we ensure all costumes are put back in place and are ready for the next day of filming. On some days, I may have to go to the costume stores if we need anything. 

What industry experience did you have already? 

I have worked in theatre for fifteen years. For the past eleven years, I worked as the Head of Costume at the Donmar Warehouse. In terms of experience on sets, I didn’t have any. 

How different is it working on a TV set in comparison to working in theatre? 

So different! At the theatre, there were only two of us working within the whole department and we were responsible for costume, hair and make-up. Of course, on set, I am still putting costumes on actors, making sure they fit etc. however, theatre is impulse driven – you are working very quickly and the adrenaline kicks in. There’s time to stop on set – if an actor is on stage and there’s an issue with the costume, they have to carry on – there isn’t any time to stop. You can get away with a lot more in theatre too. I’ve learnt that with filming, costumes need to be very specific to fit in with the set and other actors – for example, the colours an actor wears on set is really important. 

How do you hope the ‘Stepping Up’ programme will help further your career? 

It’s thrown me into more costume design. I hadn’t heard of the Stepping Up scheme until I interviewed for a Junior Position last year but was told that I have too much experience in costume, just none in television. I got in contact with the BBC again to say I would be leaving London to move back to Wales and that I was really keen to get into working on set, this is the first time I heard about Stepping Up so I went for it. I’ve been told it’s really good to find someone Welsh who wants to work in Wales so that’s been good to hear. 

Would you recommend the Stepping Up programme? 

100%! I would definitely recommend it. Everyone in the wardrobe department have been saying the scheme is incredible. It’s such a selfless scheme and it’s wonderful to see how much Sgil Cymru care. It’s also nice to have this scheme available in Wales and here to help the industry in Wales. Thank you! The scheme is amazing. 

If you’d like to find out more information regarding our Stepping Up training initiative, click here