Fiona-Jane Weston trained in Australia and played principal roles in rep in plays including The Canterbury Tales and Ring Round the Moon. She then lived in China, studying ethnic minorities' theatre styles and featuring in film before returning to her native England to help found the Radical Actress Guild. She went on to work with some of the best-known names in theatre and light entertainment, including Sir Donald Sinden, Dennis Quilley, Bill Bailey, Milton Jones and Bill Oddie, and played leading parts at the Westminster Theatre, the English-speaking theatre in Switzerland and on several tours. Her film work includes Four Minute Mile, Moving Image Madness and Overseas Chinese. As a vocalist, she has featured with a jazz duo in various London hotels and restaurants and at the London Palladium.
Fiona-Jane played to capacity houses both in London and New York in her one-woman show 20th Century Woman-the Compact Cabaret featuring drama, poetry and songs from some of the finest writers and composers of the last century and present one.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do? Very hard to single out one thing. I love to perform particularly with words and music. I really enjoy the creative process of researching and deciding on songs and spoken pieces from plays, literature or poetry that will tell a story on a theme, often a historical one. It is very special when other people let me know they have been inspired/moved/amused/educated by something I’ve presented. It’s important to me that the audience gets something not only entertaining and a great night out, but that keeps them thinking or questioning for a while.
Do you have a creative hero/heroine and if so, why? There are so many! One is Margot Fonteyn – for her grace, elegance and iron self-discipline which got her through both professional and personal difficulties. Another is Laurence Olivier – for his constant work at his craft, interpreting characters and playwrights’ words to create a performance masterpiece. And Dusty Springfield – who also wouldn’t compromise on quality.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career? Recognise where there are gaps in your knowledge and get the education you need to fill those gaps, but whilst doing that, keep believing in yourself. Don’t let anyone (including yourself!) make you feel inadequate or dampen the fire in your belly. Know what you are good at now, and what you will be good at when you’ve worked at it a bit longer. This means accepting the truth when others say you bring them pleasure by doing what you do, even if you personally feel critical of your own performance.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it? I bounce off other people a great deal. I talk it through with people I respect, particularly my husband, and am constantly inspired by listening to the experiences and perspective of other creative artists. There is also a time to leave something that is causing you bother and return to it later – I often find it has sorted itself out somehow, and then I wonder why I found it so difficult in the first place!
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why? Hmm... something very beautiful and elegant, but supportive, deceptively comfortable, flexible and one you can run and dance in. The best possible partner in life – both professionally and personally.