My name is Holli Dillon, I am an artist, activisit and actor and in this blog I will be sharing my eating disorder story and how it affected my work as an actor.
When I came ‘out’ as having an eating disorder, I was 22, but I had battled with bulimia and anorexia since I was 16 years old. I was misdiagnosed several times, and unfortunately, I didn’t even receive a formal diagnosis. So I am uncertain as to what the exact diagnosis would have been, but here is a list to refer to. I was however diagnosed with Glandular Fever, Depression, and Anxiety. I had been put off going to the doctors because I was met with unprepared, uninformed, and some downright inexcusable behavior by some of the doctors I met with. (Don’t worry this isn’t a horror story, mine is a cautionary tale of strength and persistence).
To give you an idea of what it was like for me, to live with these eating disorders, was like being told how awful I looked every moment of every day. How everyone hated me because I looked so awful and that I’d have to make sure I only ate food if I binged it and purged it straight after. Discipline became a source of relief, so that was what I focussed on. I was so afraid of being told off, I had to obey. One doctor actually shouted at me for my diet not being nutritious enough. One laughed at me for breaking down in the appointment. Another told me that my time was up and I needed to leave. I became more and more insular, more secretive, and more convinced that I had to battle on alone.
Not having a formal diagnosis is hard in an evidence-based society. I don’t even have photos from that period of my life now, because I deleted social media.
My ED was my primary focus from the age of 16 to 24, it really ruled my life. During which period, I was scouted to be a model. I was at my smallest at 18 (I won’t be giving exact weights or details, in line with the guidance given to me by the UK’s leading Eating Disorder charity, BEAT). I remember what it was like, trawling the internet for diet tips, and turning them into guidelines and crib sheets on how to be the best at being skinny. I did this willingly, even though I did it in secret, knowing that it wasn’t what I should or wanted to be doing. That was part of the illness, I was living with a bully. I didn’t like how the illness was promoted within the industry and often felt unsafe, so I didn’t really pursue modeling. I also turned down auditions for acting jobs whilst I studied in the States. Because even though I was directly asked by producers, I was convinced they’d see me on camera and say they had made a mistake, I was too disgusting for the role.
However, I did find the courage to speak out. I can’t stress how important early intervention is. It took several patients and kind humans to gently suggest that I might have an eating disorder; for it to take effect. I knew what they were doing, and was grateful, even if at the time I ran away and hid from it. Knowing that people were there, that I had their support, even if I couldn’t face them at the time, was what pushed me to learn more, learn that it wasn’t me, it was the illness.
To separate the two has helped me. If you take anything away from this, I hope that it is that there is kindness in the world. It does exist, though it may be hard to see when you’re presented with the opposite daily (by your own head); but if you keep looking you will find it. In my case, it was there, I just couldn’t see it straight away. It took time. I still wrestle with body dysmorphia, but I have reeducated myself with what food is good for me and I am content with knowing that I have beaten the symptoms of bulimia and anorexia. But help is available as soon are you are ready to admit you are struggling!
Keep telling yourself you can beat it. I believe in you. Please know that you are valuable and important and please always get a second opinion if you’re unsatisfied with what a medical professional has said. Remember, doctors are also human, not to forgive malpractice, but we all have off days. The more education we have on mental health, the more we are able to be informed and support ourselves and each other.
If you are worried about anyone or would like more information on eating disorders BEAT and the NHS have useful resources, or if you would like to be part of a Zoom talk with other actors who have either experienced ED or are an ally, you may be interested to know that MSFT Management will be hosting a live session about Eating Disorders, where Holli will lead a discussion about ED.
All are welcome to join. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Zoom Link and Pin.
BRIGITTE MILLAR We are very excited to be working with Brigitte Millar, a German bilingual performer who has lived in London for over 15 years. Brigitte is a two-time international Award-Winning actor, (Best Supporting Actress at the International Film Festival in Los Angeles) in the multi-award-winning feature film David is Dying. Directed by Stephen Lloyd Jackson. Brigitte also was given the Award of Merit for Acting at NOX. Brigette is best known for her role as Dr. Vogel in Sam Mendes’ Spectre, alongside Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz and has just finished reprising that role in No Time to Die, (2020), directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
David was born in Zimbabwe and studied at the
American Academy of Dramatic Arts for three years before relocating to London.
He is 6′ and and speaks with a very soft South African accent. He is a
wonderful singer and plays the guitar too. David recently booked a television
spot, cast by Sonia Allam well as a role in a feature film which will be
released on Netflix this year. David also recently played the lead in Tom
Hardwick’s production, Mr. Magnolia. One to watch!
Kate is from Northern Ireland and one of
our best comedy performers. Kate recently toured internationally with her
one-woman show, The Very Perry Show, which earned popular and critical
acclaim, winning the Best Comedy Show award at The United Solo Theatre
Festival in New York. Kate has also just booked an animation job as
the voice of Granny in an upcoming Irish animated feature film cast by Sasha
Saskia is a Dutch-American actress who recently
graduated from California Institute of the Arts’ BFA Acting program with a
minor in Creative Writing. She is a trained singer, specialising in folk,
jazz, and musical theatre and has played the Guitar for the last 10 years. She
is also a Yoga Teacher and dancer. A wonderful all rounder with both stage and
screen presence. You can see Saskia in action as she plays Lady Aida at
the Moonshine Saloon, the Immersive Cocktail experience in Chelsea from
Inventive Productions. Catch her live before the show ends!
Agatha was born and raised in Lebanon and speaks
fluent French and Arabic (all dialects). She has a wonderful international accent and speaks English fluently.
She trained for three years at the Actor’s Workshop in Beirut and at The Salon
Collective in London, where she continues to study the Meisner Technique.
Agatha recently filmed a Short Drama VR film called TWO WOMEN which will be
touring the festival this year. Agatha also booked a role on Guy Ritchie’s
recent adaptation of Disney’s classic, Aladdin.
Ricky is originally from Tyne and Wear and has a
wonderful Geordie accent. He trained at a LeCog-based school in
Berlin before studying for an MA in Acting at East 15. Ricky’s a keen martial
artist and has trained in many combative sports at a high level. Ricky is
predominantly a stage actor but is keen to explore more screen
Holly has years of experience in acting, having
appeared on West End stages from the young age of 12. Further to her stage
experience, she grew up in front of the camera while she played Sammy Lee in
Grange Hill through 4 seasons. More recent credits include acting as Maeve in
Clemmie Reynolds’ direction of Blue Stockings and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s
Dream at the Cockpit Theatre.
Oisin is a Southern Irish actor and graduate of
Drama Centre London, The Irish Film Academy, and The Gaiety School of Acting. Oisin
is 6′ and is a skilled actor-musician, playing the guitar, bass, ukulele, and
piano. He has a strong screen presence and his reel is
extremely impressive. His recent credits include Plums, directed by
Lauren Blackwell, and the award-winning Blood Sweat and Years, directed by
Adam O’Byrne. One to have on your Casting Radar!
MSFT Management are excited to announce that our exclusive client Stewart Lockwood and commercial client Eilidh Nairn will be starring in the upcoming stage play ‘Escapology’ at the Old Red Lion Theatre. For tickets and more info please click here.
Oisin is an Irish actor with a Southern Irish accent. He recently graduated from Drama Centre London as well as completing his studies at both The Irish Film Academy and The Gaiety School of Acting. Oisin is 6’0″ and is an Actor-Musician; he can play the guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and piano. He has a strong screen presence and his reel, all shot while in training, is extremely impressive. One to have on your Casting Radar!
Agatha was born and raised in Lebanon and speaks fluentFrench and Arabic (all dialects). She has a wonderful international accent and speaks English fluently. Agatha is 5’6, was born and raised in Lebanon and trained for three years at the Actor’s Workshop in Beirut and at The Salon Collective in London, where she continues to study the Meisner Technique. Agatha has a very international acting style and is extremely versatile and emotionally available. AGENT FAVOURITE ALERT!
Alice is a recent graduate of the Drama Centre London, with an MA in Screen Acting where she specialised in Laban and the Alexander Technique. She is 5’7″ with a slim build and has a wonderful, timeless look and an Estuary accent. Alice was born in the UK but her parents are from Northern Ireland, hence the pale skin and piercing blue eyes. (Thank you to Hannah Simons, Leanne Flinn, and Ilenka Jelowicki Casting for calling her to cast already!)
Three of our Exclusive clients, Alex Forman, Saskia Marguerite, and Charlie Sturgeon, are starring in the unique and fun MOONSHINE SALOON – an IMMERSIVE THEATRE experience! Check out the production photos to see them in action!