Sylvia is the Founder and Principal of Sylvia Young Theatre School, an independent school specialising in performing arts. The school has produced stars such as Keeley Hawes, Emma Bunton, Rita Ora, Billie Piper, Nicholas Hoult and Amy Winehouse. Sylvia is an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).
1Can you explain your role in one sentence?I oversee the care and development of children and their potential.
2How long have you been doing this job?I started the school 46 years ago. It was originally on a part-time basis, but I’ve been running the school full-time since 1980.
3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or by design?Oh, by accident. It simply just grew. I am trained in theatre and the arts, but always felt so much satisfaction from teaching others and watching them grow and prosper.
4What’s the best part about your job?Seeing past students do well in whichever field they choose. Many people believe all of our pupils go into performing arts as it is a theatre school, but our students thrive in various careers, such as medicine, accountancy, athletics and marketing.
5What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you on the job? I have a lovely memory of when the school first started and wasn’t at its current site on Nutford Place. We used to share premises with the Gainsford Boys Sports Club – we held classes during the day and the athletics club came in during the late afternoon. Well, the Gainsford boys had a tendency to tease our male ballet students and eventually challenged them to a football match… WE WON! It was a great day and they certainly stopped thinking our ballet boys weren’t athletes.
6What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work? Of course, I love to go to the theatre. I don’t have a favourite, I just enjoy experiencing everything that’s on stage! I also enjoy traveling and seeing productions around the world. New York is my favourite place to holiday.
7What do you like about this area? The central location is unbeatable. We’re close to great shopping, wonderful restaurants, the West End theatres and various transport hubs.
8Where’s your favourite place to go for a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) in the local area? The Portman Pub on Seymour Place. It looks like a normal pub on the ground floor, but upstairs is a truly lovely restaurant with delicious food.
9Who is YOUR hero and what is it about them that inspires you?Cameron Mackintosh (Producer of Les Misérables, Hamilton, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Mary Poppins). He is so intuitive and clever, knowing what would work and be successful.
10If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? Anywhere with theatre!