David Zezulka is our longest serving member of the YAFTA teaching team. We’ve put him under the spotlight to find out key advice to people starting in the industry, his favourite TV moments and which actors he’d invite round for dinner – dead or alive!
What is your current day job and role with YAFTA?
I’ve worked with YAFTA since the beginning. I think I’m correct in saying that I was the first regular acting tutor hired, back when we ran a single hour long session a week. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the company’s expansion into multiple classes across Yorkshire and work on establishing and teaching the acting diplomas. When I’m not at YAFTA I’m a professional actor myself and have been since graduating from LAMDA many moons ago.
What was your first job in the industry, was the acting industry always the plan?
I was lucky enough to go straight from drama school into work. I made my professional debut as Pozzo in Waiting For Godot on the London fringe. I think my first screen role was as a drunken, lecherous and sleazy man trying seduce his wife’s friend at a party. Since then it’s been a fairly eclectic mixture of work across various mediums. I’ve never actually had a plan as such, it’s just that acting and performing has always been such a key part of my life it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.
What is your favourite/best TV moment?
In terms of my own career I suppose playing Inspector Gayles on The Moorside for the BBC would be the most high profile highlight, but there have numerous smaller projects that I’ve been very proud of. As a viewer it would be a toss up between Michael Palin and John Cleese performing the parrot sketch, as the use of language and the interplay is wonderful, or pretty much anything from Hill Street Blues, a ground-breaking show that’s stuffed to the gills with fantastic acting and memorable moments.
What one piece of advice would you give to those starting out in the industry?
Be on time, be prepared, be nice to people. And above all do it because you love it not because you need recognition.
If you could invite three dinner party guests from the world of screen – dead or alive, who would it be?
Claude Rains — his performance in Casablanca is one of my favourites, an entertaining and highly quotable mix of lightness and gravitas. Julia Louis Dreyfus — her work on the show Veep is superb and a master class in comedic acting. And finally David Morse — a character actor who pops up everywhere, makes everything he’s in better and flies largely under the radar. He’s the ultimate “where do I know him from” actor and as we have a similar physical casting type he’s always been an inspiration.