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  • Writer's pictureThe Arts VA

Client Stories: Meet... Tom O’Brien, Theatre Director/Acting & Performance Coach

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

This week, The Arts VA client, Tom, explains his reasons for working with a virtual assistant and how the support he’s needed has changed over time.

Directors chair on stage

Although Tom O’Brien started his career as a performer, he discovered his passion was in directing, working with creatives and helping actors to transform their performances.

When COVID-19 hit and the theatres closed, Tom used his knowledge and experience to start an online coaching business, working with entrepreneurs and actors from all over the globe, as well as writing and directing online content.

The Arts VA has been fortunate to support Tom as his business has grown - here he explains why it was an important investment for the future of his company.

Theatre Director and Acting Coach Tom O'Brien

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

I have been a theatre director for ten years in many different environments. I also write, as well as teaching in drama schools. When COVID happened, I lost my job and so I started to look at what I could do online. I had already done coaching on the side, helping actors prepare for auditions, so I took this online and I have been coaching actors and entrepreneurs from all over the world.

How did you come to work with The Arts VA?

I met Charlie when I was working as a resident director for Cameron Mackintosh on Sixpence in the West End. When things started to open up, I was doing some in-person work whilst also running my online business. I saw what Charlie was doing with The Arts VA and she really understood my business and the support I needed.

Have you ever worked with a VA before?

I always thought they might be for people who were super, super successful. It was actually reading The Arts VA website about people I knew - creatives, designers - that I realised this could be different.

What kind of tasks were you struggling with?

I needed to find a way of streamlining everything. I had just designed my own website and my files were a complete mess, so I needed to get all my files sorted and create a structure.

Also, generating invoices and finances - setting me up on Xero so that I can just enter an email and an invoice gets generated and sent. It was basically looking at what systems were best for me and my business.

Have these tasks changed over time at all?

Definitely, a couple of times. It went from the organisation to support and tasks to help with the growth of my business.

Do you have set hours each month or ad-hoc?

Set hours. They have increased as my business has grown. I’ll be honest, sometimes as a growing business it can be up and down and you worry if you are going to have enough work for that month, but there always is.

What difference has working with a VA made to you and your business?

I have been able to plan and strategize much more than I would have before. I know the things I am good at - sometimes we feel we have to do everything ourselves, but if you want to grow your business, you have to get help.

This has given me the time to focus on where I want my business to go and also discover other things I’m good at, like copywriting. That’s something I have been able to do since having a VA.

Would you recommend having a VA?

Definitely, Dawn-Louise (Tom’s VA) has been brilliant. Dawn-Louise has been someone I can go to when I’m feeling overwhelmed and bounce ideas off. It can feel very lonely being an entrepreneur or a business owner, but a VA can provide support - and we all need that, especially when growing a business.

You can read about Tom's Embodied Process Digital Course at


The Arts News

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane has extended its West End run. The show will run until 14th May next year at the Duke of York’s Theatre. Tickets are now on sale.

  • Tickets are now available for the musical version of the Robin William’s film Mrs Doubtfire. The show, which debuted on Broadway in New York with record ticket sales, will premiere at the Manchester Opera House on 2nd September 2022. Keep your eyes peeled for casting news.

We’d Love to Hear From You!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about working with Dawn-Louise and the rest of The Arts VA team, contact Charlie. At The Arts VA, we work with a range of different clients, you can read all about some of them in these blogs:


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