Next in our series of Q&As with The Arts VA team, copywriter Gemma Wilcock, who has over 15 years of experience writing for magazines and online publications (including this blog), gets a grilling...
What was your first job?
When I was 16, I got a Saturday job in a small chemist, restocking the shelves and helping to give out prescriptions. I worked in retail throughout college and university before getting an internship at B magazine in London.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I actually wanted to be an actress - I loved drama, dancing and singing. I did freestyle dancing for years until I was 22 and would dance everywhere - at the bus stop, down the supermarket aisles, walking to school! I used to reenact scenes from Grease for my mum! I looked at drama schools but, in the end, I decided I wanted to be a writer.
When did you know you wanted to work in the media?
When I was younger, I loved writing. I used to write all the time, scribbling on any piece of paper I could find and even wrote a small book about a local crime that had happened. I became quite obsessed with trying to solve it!
After school, I studied media studies at college and then journalism at university. After doing a mix of work experience at local newspapers, I decided I wanted to work on magazines. I interned at B and Elle before getting my first job on the features desk at Bella magazine.
First production you went to see?
I remember going to see pantos at my local theatre when I was younger but later, when I moved to London, I went to see We Will Rock You and I remember everyone getting up and dancing in the aisles.
What is your favourite theatre memory?
I’ve seen productions including Mamma Mia!, Wicked, Les Mis and Evita, as well as opera at the Royal Opera House, but the memory that sticks in my mind the most is appearing in a young production at Sunderland Empire Theatre when I was 15.
While I didn’t have a main part, I loved the experience of auditioning, learning the songs, the dances and performing them on the stage in front of an audience. I wish I’d done more of these productions, but dancing was my focus back then.
What do you like about being a copywriter?
I like researching a topic in depth so I can produce copy that is easy to read and relatable to the reader. The best part is seeing my work when it’s finished, whether this is in print or online.
What do you like to do on a weekend?
When we’re not rushing the kids to swimming or gymnastics, I like to make plans with friends or family and eat nice food (and drink nice wine!). We have a zoo membership so when we have a free weekend, we like to take the children there to burn off some energy!
Crisps and dip every time!
Anything with chorizo in.
Skinny latte and a ham, cheese and tomato croissant.
Coffee or tea?
Les Mis or Phantom?
A cocktail - a Pornstar Martini or a Bramble.
Favourite holiday spot?
Right now, anywhere in Greece.
Best way to relax?
A bath and a glass of wine or, for some total escapism, a trashy reality TV show!
Coffee with friends, shopping and trying to keep fit.
Three words to describe you?
Punctual, friendly, loyal.
This changes often, but probably steak, chips and peppercorn sauce (with a side of chorizo!) and a glass of red wine.
Dinner party guests?
My grandparents, who passed away when I was younger. I’d love my Nana to make some of her famous meat pie for my husband Ryan – he loves pies! I’d also invite his grandparents too, who he was very close to but I never got to meet. Imagine the stories around that table!
The Arts News
Moulin Rouge! The Musical took home an incredible 10 awards at the Tony Awards last week, including Best Musical. The Old Vic’s production of A Christmas Carol also won an amazing five awards. Head to the website for a full list of winners.
Beauty and the Beast has extended its tour, adding new dates for 2022. The show will now appear in Birmingham, Manchester and Sunderland.
We’d Love to Hear From You!
If you have any questions about Gemma or about The Arts VA, you can contact Charlie here. You can also learn more about our team of VAs and their skills in these blog posts: