Ginny Smith, The Abbey 1974 Leaver
Ginny arrived at The Abbey aged 12 with a poor school record and she had to stay down a year. But when she was put in top division French, that small signal that she was good at something boosted her confidence and encouraged her to start to work in lessons. She also loved performing so when no-one else wanted to speak or read or sing in public, her hand shot up. She went on to Swansea University to read French, but a classical literature course didn’t satisfy her desire to learn a modern language so she moved to Coventry Technical College where she gained top marks in the country in practical French and Spanish exams.
Her first job was in the Translations Department at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. When she married she left Birmingham and started work for a criminal solicitor. Watching trials in the Crown Court sparked a lasting fascination in criminal law. At the age of 29, with no university degree and language qualifications which she no longer used, she decided to return to university, this time to read Law at Cambridge. She gained a first-class Honours degree and was later called to the Bar. She practiced general common law until the birth of her first child and then became a stay-at home-mother.
When her children reached school age, Ginny started writing and performing comedy sketches about modern family life for parent/teacher events. At the age of 52 she wrote her first full length play - a one-woman comedy about a typical middle-class family. In 2008 she took it to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it was a total sell-out. This was the start of what has become a full-time career writing and performing. All the threads of her previous careers and interests have come together as she now uses her language, barristerial and performing skills and now in her early sixties continues to work to make her plays the best they can be. She has written ten stage plays and returned twice to perform her own work at the Edinburgh Fringe. She has performed at other Fringe Festivals and over three hundred venues throughout the UK to sell-out audiences, gaining five star reviews. Her courtroom drama Learned Friends won Best Original Piece at Birminghamfest in 2016 and has been performed at many Crown Court venues including Birmingham, Manchester and London.
What does success look like?
I don’t believe that success is visible. It is the feeling you get when you know that you have done your best.
What is your best piece of advice?
Do what you love, not what you’re necessarily best at. Don’t be afraid to change your mind or course. Every life experience is useful and variety is interesting. Admit it when you just don’t know something. That way you’ll learn.