It takes 10 years to build an overnight sensation: Interview with Divina De Campo

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What is Stand Out Skills 

UK Drag Race legend and drag royalty Divina De Campo has teamed up with BT to launch Stand Out Skills, providing job seekers of all ages with free tools and resources to help them stand out in their job search. In a nutshell, “Stand out skills are about giving people some guidance and help to get back into the workplace”. Divina will give candidates advice on how to create a unique identity and present their best selves. She said: A job search can be just like a drag show: to wow those judges and put yourself ahead of the competition, you need to showcase your best self so that they see how fabulous you really are. Having been around the block a few times I can tell you that, unless you’re applying to be a spy, ‘blending in’ is a big no-no! That’s why I’m over the moon to be a part of BT’s Stand Out Skills campaign, which will give you everything you need to stand out from the crowd, like me, and shine in your job search from beginning to end.”

By Nwora Emenike

Have you worked with young people before?

I started straight after uni working in community centers, high schools, and junior schools teaching, dance, music, and drama. At the core of my work, I was facilitating them by creating their own work giving them the tools to convey their thoughts, experiences, and ideas to an audience. By having those conversations with people from all walks of life, we can then transfer those same skills to any interview situation.

How do you think Stand Out Skills can support all that great work you’ve been doing in communities?

The campaign is about soft skills, building a person’s self-confidence, communication, and how you present yourself as a prospective employer. Being truthful and honest about who you are and what you can bring is important. I don’t pass so instead I do the opposite, I remember going for interviews with a bright rainbow mohawk and I knew if my identity was going to be a problem then I didn’t need to be there. 

 

Stand out Skills is about realising that you are there for a reason, they want to get to know you. For every 20 job applications, you might get one interview, if that. Just because you don’t get the job doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, sometimes it’s about the jigsaw that the company has to put together.

What advice would you give to young people looking to move into the drag/performance sector?

DON’T DO IT! No, I’m only joking. My advice would be:

  • Practice!, Practice! and more practice. 
  • Take every opportunity that’s been offered to you. It takes 10 years to build an overnight sensation. 
  • Learn as much as you can from everybody, everyone you meet has something that you don’t know. 
  • Build your network by being kind even in the face of adversity and be professional at all times. There are people that I worked with once 10 years ago that have called me recently to be part of a new project they’re working on.
  • Don’t be a nightmare off stage. I know many queens who are sensational performers but just the worst person ever backstage. Those queens don’t get nearly as many bookings as their talent would suggest.

What advice would give to young people who are unsure of their career paths?

It’s okay to be unsure what you want to do. Some of the most interesting people I know are in their 50’s and still unsure of what they want to do. The job sector is changing so much now, everything is moving online and new sectors and career paths are opening up every day. The reality is that most of us now are going to start in one career and then shift to another sector. Don’t worry about the shift, you need to find things you enjoy doing and then build them into your work life. I love drag, I love performing and being on stage but I’m not a fan of sitting and putting my face on for 2 hours. There may be an element of your work that you don’t enjoy but that shouldn’t put you off. Just be as flexible as you can be and look for what you love in every opportunity.

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