30 September 2021

To those pursuing your dreams, be curious, courageous and strong.

Two years after leaving John Lyon, Usmaan Khan (OL2019) has secured the place at drama school that he always coveted. Here, he talks about how he turned rejection into success.

“I’d like to be an actor!” – I’d exclaim whenever asked what I wanted to pursue with my life.

“Oh, that’s great – you’re aware that you will have more doors slammed in your face than opened, right?”, the person would reply.

Naively I would nod this off — I had been in every school production since joining John Lyon in Year 9, countless Lamda Examinations and North London Drama Festivals… surely pursuing what I clearly love would be a smooth ride.

He thought… 

There’s no lesson you sit in which prepares you for the devastation of rejection. Putting your time, effort, heart and money into something you believe to be fruitful, just to be told: “not this time, maybe next year”.

Rejection is something we will all deal with at some point in our lives, but what I learnt from three years of rehearsals, recalls and rejection was that resilience should always be at your foundation.

I will always advise those trying to pursue non-traditional paths to remain true to themselves. Do not be ashamed of chasing after what’s deemed “impossible”. If you want it, go get it. If you aren’t willing to try again and again you have to self-evaluate and ask yourself “how much do I want this?”.

For me, drama has been my outlet for true, unashamed, imaginative exploration. The chance to become the weird and wonderful characters I create in my head, to explore the depths and emotions deep wishing the psyche. I truly believe I would not be the person I am today without drama, the confidence, the allowance of expression, the vulnerability and the licence to play is so integral and forever cherished.

To those pursuing your dreams, be curious, courageous and strong. Protect that sense of wonder. You are truly unique.

A very sincere thank you to all the staff at John Lyon who supported me through my endless fantasies of making it as a creative. Especially Mr Jones, Mr Felgate, Ms Robinson and Mr Brown: your endorsement that my goals were valid and guidance to help get me closer to them were crucial and thankfully successful as I’m glad to share that I have received my place on the BA Acting course at East15 Acting School.


Drama at John Lyon