AN actor has raised the curtain on a fresh career with the help of Darlington College after pandemic lockdown steered her towards journalism.
Aja Dodd trained as an actor with Project A, Newcastle Theatre Royal, at 18, after leaving Polam Hall School and sixth form college in Darlington,
She soon secured work, including with a murder mystery company, until the pandemic struck in 2020 and the industry went into lockdown.
“I was also furloughed from another job I had and found myself wondering what would become of me,” said Aja, of Darlington.
“I thought about going back to college so why not study journalism – and it proved to be a good decision.”
Aja joined the National Council for the Training of Journalists diploma course at Darlington College, studying every facet of the media, from print to digital, video production, social media, media law, public affairs and shorthand.
At the same time she submitted entertainment stories to The Northern Echo and when a trainee reporter’s post arose she managed to secure it.
“It is great working for the Echo and while it is a high pressure job, having a fulltime post is less stressful than trying to find acting roles, which I loved but were a bit sporadic.
“I managed to get my 100 words per minute shorthand, which I think was really important in being offered the job because I didn’t feel the interview went that well and didn’t hear for about four weeks.
“Now I’m involved in general news, anything and everything, while still doing some entertainment stories and acting in my spare time.”
Aja had high praise for the Darlington College tutors and the NCTJ course. “I loved it,” she said. “The atmosphere on the course was fabulous, the tutors were incredibly supportive and encouraging and the other students were great – in fact we still keep in touch. I would highly recommend Darlington College to everyone.”
Aja will spend the next year completing her senior reporter’s training after which she hopes to pursue her dream of combining her two careers – by becoming an entertainments reporter.