‘Don’t be afraid of being out of your comfort zone’ – Rae Atkin

Breakthrough Talent Award winner, Rae Atkin reflects on her pathway into the live events sector as a Lighting Associate at Flare Lighting.

Breakthrough Talent Award winner, Rae Atkin.

What first sparked your interest in live entertainment?

“I’ve always loved music and live productions. As a kid, I would put on concerts for my parents with disco lights and tickets. I admired the detail behind everything and how things come together to create something great. When deciding the courses I wanted to take at college, I was looking for something to tie in alongside performing arts and I remember this little stall called Production Arts. I thought it’d be really interesting to understand what goes on behind the stage. I very quickly discovered that I actually loved it more than anything I have before. With lighting specifically, I just found it so fascinating how much it can change the emotive response of a performance.”

Did you ever consider your interest would lead to a burgeoning career in lighting?

“It was a very natural progression. I knew that this was the industry for me without a doubt. When I first started learning about lighting, I found pretty quickly that it was what I wanted to do. I never thought I would be any good, but I enjoyed it. The technical side has never come easy to me as I have a very creative brain, but I love learning and understanding how the whole system works and comes together.”

What was it like to win a Breakthrough Talent Award at Production Futures ON TOUR?

“Definitely a surprise. I felt honoured that someone thought I’d done enough to be nominated in the first place. On the day I didn’t know anyone there, so I spent time talking to people and introducing myself. Production Futures is amazing for any young person starting out in the industry, I wish I’d discovered it sooner.”

How did you land your first gig?

“I did a placement at Neg Earth for six weeks in April 2022, and at the end, I practically begged them to get me out onsite, so they put me out on Biffy Clyro at Download Festival 2022. It was insane, I honestly had the time of my life. That was my first real taste of the whole process and I loved every aspect of it. Rehearsals were crazy, I learned so much in a matter of days. During the performance, I remember feeling so overwhelmed at how lucky I was to be involved. You see thousands of people in front of you absolutely loving everything about what you’ve built – it’s one of the best feelings.”

Have  you faced any additional barriers breaking into the sector?

“There have been times where I’ve felt that I’ve needed to push harder as a woman in order to prove myself. Most people in this industry have been lovely and want to actively help you become better and support you. I don’t believe that my opportunities have been hindered by the fact that I’m a woman, which is the most important thing. Naturally, there are some people that can’t see past that obvious difference between you. Occasionally, I’ve been bluntly reminded of that, but in some ways, it becomes another drive to push harder and prove yourself even more.”

What advice would you offer others looking to follow in your footsteps?

“I’ve received a lot of great advice in the past year, but I always return to ‘don’t be a dick’. It’s a very small industry, and the last thing you want is to be remembered for the wrong reasons. I’d also encourage people to take every opportunity that comes their way because you never know who you’re going to meet or where it’s going to take you. Don’t be afraid of being out of your comfort zone, that’s often where some of the best things happen.”

This article originally appeared in issue #275 of TPi, which you can read here.

Words: Jacob Waite

Photo: Rae Atkin