Acting and pharmacy: crossover careers

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Acting and a pharmacy career might sound like worlds apart, but it seems there are many skills learnt in store that can come into play in a wide range of settings and life situations.

Many young people these days have great hopes and dreams but when it comes to real life experience they fall down. The importance of good work ethics and hands-on experience is often low on the agenda. However, Nikita Di Palma from Chemist Warehouse Innisfail, is a bright and bubbly 17-year-old with a good head on her shoulders. She knows that her time spent in pharmacy will give her the grounding she needs to shine brightly, wherever her career takes her—currently her sights are firmly set on the big screen.

Nikita explains that it was the wealth of products that first enticed her into pharmacy. “I walked into a pharmacy store and was excited and intrigued by all the different products. I thought I’d love to know what all these products do and how they can help people.”

It was that single moment that attracted Nikita into the pharmacy industry. She contacted the store and was accepted to do a work experience placement for a week and was offered a job at the end of it.

“Now I’m doing my Certificate 11 in Community Pharmacy, which is really interesting,” she says.

“I’m a passionate person that loves to learn. I’m curious and outgoing and pharmacy has plenty to interest me. There’s so much to learn, but I’ve also realised that if you fail it doesn’t matter because it is the experience that is really important,” Nikita says.

Treading the boards

Yet with so much energy and enthusiasm, it’s hard to imagine Nikita failing. Alongside her passion for pharmacy she explains that she has a tenacious love for acting.

“I’ve always been interested in acting, ever since I was a baby. I’ve always loved entertaining people—it’s been my passion forever.

Having studied drama in school for the last four years and participated in many out-of-school activities and acting workshops, Nikita was elated when she met a film producer who invited her to be a film extra.

She explains, “I did a summer holiday course at Studio Australia Management, an acting agency in Cairns, and it was the director there who asked me to be an extra on one of his films.

“Of course I jumped at the chance. The movie was filmed over two days in an old house in Port Douglas. We stayed up until 5am shooting the movie. It was so much fun,” she enthuses.

“It was an amazing experience to see how movies are made and just how much work and effort goes into making a film. It was so cool. It’s certainly not a normal job being an actor, but it’s the best thing in the world.

“During my time on set I met so many artistic directors and other amazing people with the same passion as me, so we had a lot in common.”

Despite the heady lights of film stardom, Nikita recognises the role that pharmacy has played in her life.

“Through pharmacy I’ve become much more confident in talking to strangers. If someone asks me a question I know how to deal with it with self-assurance.

“I’ve met people from different backgrounds and with different personalities and through my time spent in pharmacy I know how to handle different people and take control of various situations.

“I’ve learnt so much. I’ve been taught lots of different skills and techniques within the work place. I’ve gained knowledge about drugs and what they do but I’ve also learnt how to present yourself and even how to be a lady,” she laughs.

“I know how to present myself professionally; how to do my hair and make-up and what jewellry to wear; I’ve observed how other staff dress.

“Working in pharmacy is very different to working in other retail environments. You’re dealing with people’s health and sickness so you need to be professional in the service you give. You need to recognise and understand customer’s needs and wants, which can be intense but you get used to it,” she says.

“Body language is paramount and if there are language barriers you need to find alternative ways to communicate. Just like being on a film set, no two days are the same,” she says.

A curious tandem

While acting and pharmacy might seem like poles apart, Nikita explains that when she goes to auditions, the skills she’s learnt in pharmacy definitely come into play.

“Acting requires self-confidence and the ability to talk to various people openly and honestly: pharmacy has really helped me develop these skills.

“Pharmacy has given me an amazing head start in life. Through pharmacy I’ve gained life experience and life knowledge and unlike some other retail jobs, there’s so much opportunity. There are lots of areas you can study and you can go on to be a manager. Health is a huge industry so there are plenty of prospects.”




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