Amanda Merchant Receptionist/ Personal Tutors (Yr 4-6)/RUMS AA
Tell me about your role I am the receptionist for the Undergraduate Centre at the Whittington Hospital. I also organise the personal tutor meetings for Years 4-6 – the group meetings and one-to-ones for 88 tutors in all. Also I organise the Oxbridge transfers and manage facilities and room bookings for UCLMS at the Whittington. All very busy roles so I am never bored!
What’s your favourite part of your role? I find the personal tutor scheme most rewarding.
What do you find challenging in your role? Probably working with the Trust on facilities issues and trying to get a quick response! It’s rewarding when I’m successful in this and can then build a good relationship with contacts within the Trust.
What did you do before coming to UCL? What’s your work history? I’m from Bath originally and came to London after getting my drama degree to focus on my acting. I enrolled at the London Centre for Theatre Studies and as part of this started a 3 month run in a Federico Garcia Lorca play called the House of Bernarda Alba at the Charing Cross Theatre. I played an old woman called Prudencia and a young girl Amelia!
Alongside acting I have temped in places such as Barts, the Royal Free and House of Fraser before coming to the Medical School.
Currently I’m in the middle of a 1-year method acting course which takes so much time and is really intense but massively rewarding – I feel like I’m finally on the right path! It involves relaxation techniques, sense memory, scene classes and, contrary to what most people think, is actually a tool to use if you have trouble connecting with a character.
What was your favourite subject at school? Drama – no surprise there! I also really liked music as my music teacher, Mr Daniels, was so passionate and inspiring.
What would your ideal job be (if money was no object)? Being a full-time actor would be fantastic. And I would definitely do charity work for organisations such as PETA. Animal rights, humanitarian and women’s rights mean a lot to me.
What do you like to do outside of work? I love wandering around art galleries and museums. Once a week I also go to ballroom and Latin dance classes at Pineapple Studios. I am currently intermediate and about to start advanced. I am also working on a script for a crime thriller with Matt Aucott from UCL Multimedia which is exciting.
Where is your favourite place to eat / drink / walk in London? Favourite restaurant is the Cote Brasserie in Highgate. Favourite place is the National Gallery where the works of Turner, Velasquez and Degas are exhibited.
What 3 things would you take to a desert island? Umm… the Shakespeare canon, a squirrel and a vat of sun cream (I burn easily!).
Do you have a nickname? Mud. Given to me by a select group of actors while learning phonetics!