Whether you want to be a writer or an actor or a painter or a singer, the odds are against you.
Succeeding in the creative industries takes as much luck as it does talent and dogged determination. But ultimately someone does make it. Why couldn’t that be you?
That is the central question of Young and Promising from All 4’s Walter Presents.
The Norwegian comedy-drama sees three young (and promising) women each pushing their way into a different sector of the creative industries. One is a stand up, the other an actor and the third a writer, and they throw themselves repeatedly against the wall that stands between them and success, desperately trying to break through.
And it works. Little by little the wall crumbles, and sometimes they make progress – a radio appearance, a book deal, a role in a film – and sometimes they don’t. All the while, those career ambitions play out against a backdrop of the lives, loves and losses of a twenty-something struggling with their dreams and their reality.
The story is universal, says Gine Cornelia Pedersen, who plays writer Nene in the show. Globally, she believes, twenty-somethings share similar aspirations: “It’s a generation where you can actually follow your dreams.”
To succeed, she and her co-star Alex Gjerpen say, you need to ignore the risk of failure. They see themselves reflected in their characters’ pursuit of success. Indeed, Siri Seljeseth, who wrote and stars in the programme, pulled many of her own experiences into the show, including the characters’ almost irrational pursuit of their dreams.
“Logically I should have given up on this bullshit years ago,” Gjerpen admits, “It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t making rent. I was rejected for thirteen years. Hope is like a curse.”
Now both in their early thirties, Gjerpen and Pedersen had set a deadline for success. For Alex, when she hit thirty, it was time to look at other paths. Three months before the big day Young and Promising was greenlit.
While being realistic is essential, Pedersen says, self-belief and intuition can sometimes be better guides. “Sometimes intuition [involves] not listening to the reality of where you are,” she says. When she was applying yet again for drama school her parents told her that if this time it did not work out, she’d have to look for a different path, however that time it worked out.
But giving up on your dreams is not an easy thing to do.
“When is the end of hope?” she asks. “When do you ask, why are you hurting yourself like this? Sometimes your inner voice is a demon telling you to destroy yourself. You see people hoping and it’s not good for them.”
The pair know how lucky they are that they were able to pursue their dream careers, however even that is never as simple as it appears. Although their show launched in 2015, Gjerpen notes that as recently as last year that she had to maintain another job in a kindergarten in order to make ends meet.
There is no secret to making it in the creative world – or in any job. The pair agree that luck is the main ingredient. Pedersen reflects, “Imagine all those generations being born and dying with lost dreams. It’s not a human right to be able to follow your dreams. We’re super lucky to be able to follow ours.”