IF you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
The famous Empire State of Mind lyrics have never been so true for one Winchester woman, who has pursued her dream of becoming an actress and found herself among the bright lights of New York City.
Originally from Hinton Ampner, near Cheriton, Tessa Fairey moved to NYC in 2011 to study musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
The former Ropley Primary and Perins schoolgirl spent three years working as a waitress and dance teacher after college, before auditioning for various schools.
“I originally auditioned for schools in London and didn't make it in, so when the chance to study theatre and go to New York popped up I absolutely scarfed it down and that turned out to be the one for me,” she said.
The 24-year-old is no stranger to the stage, and when she was eight she started performing with the West Meon Players (now West Meon Theatre). Her first show was Dick Whittington.
She said: “I loved the panto so much so I auditioned for their summer Shakespeare production and got to play Robin the page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and then I was hooked.”
Tessa also worked with Winchester’s Theatre Royal and various travelling companies, and says that she is proud of where she is from.
“Where I'm from is a big part of what I'm doing now - I have huge pride in coming from the Hampshire countryside. New York City is the polar opposite of what I grew up in but it's amazing how many life skills translate over.
“I'm not from a big city or even a town but somehow I got a huge amount of opportunity to pursue theatre and people I meet here are often surprised by that. I'm very glad to represent non-Londoners and especially rural communities.”
Recently Tessa tap-danced in the first ever New York revival of cult 70s musical Rockabye Hamlet and sang and danced in the latest work from Tony winner Jim Rado called Supersoldier.
She now works with choreographer Katie Pettit, whose work will be performed in New York Theatre Barn’s Choreography Lab and New Work Festival for Emerging Artists Theatre.
Despite her growing success, Tessa’s feet remain on the ground.
“I'm very lucky that the projects I've been involved with so far have all been very different, a lot of new work from emerging companies, creative and all pretty off-beat. That's the kind of work I want to continue doing so wherever it emerges is where I'm happy being.”