The Oxford School of Drama

Student Stories

Student Stories: Tanya Reynolds

Tanya Reynolds

Tanya graduated from the One Year Acting Course in 2015. After graduation, 2017 saw Reynolds furthering her TV career with parts in Outlander and in the BBC thriller series Rellik. In 2018, Reynolds was a leading actor in the feature film Fanny Lye Deliver’d and also played a leading role as Teresa in the Sky One comedy Delicious. Most recently Reynolds has played Lily in the critically acclaimed Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education. Tanya is also in Emma a 2020 comedy-drama film directed by Autumn de Wilde, based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel of the same name. In 2024, Reynolds received an Olivier nomination for Best Supporting Actress following her work alongside Jonny Lee Miller in the play A Mirror.

What made you chose The Oxford School of Drama over other schools?

Firstly, Oxford was the only school that offered full scholarships to postgraduate students. Coming from a low income background, I would never have been able to afford tuition at any drama school, but Oxford have such a high level of funding available, which is obviously incredibly important. Secondly, I liked that the course was purely practical – so many other postgraduate courses involve essays and dissertations, but I just wanted to focus on performance. Thirdly, I knew from my first audition that Oxford was just different from any other school. And I loved that the school itself is so remote and tucked away from real life, which means you are just completely immersed in the training with no distractions!

What do you think makes the training at The Oxford School of Drama so special?

The teachers encourage you to really look at yourself and find what makes you as an individual, special and different to everyone else. There are no carbon copies being made at Oxford, every student thrives in their individuality. They also prepare you realistically for the struggles you will inevitably face when you leave. There’s no sugarcoating, they drill it into you that it’s not easy, you have to work incredibly hard, and you have to do it yourself. Oxford produces actors who are persistently proactive, who don’t just sit around waiting for the phone to ring, and who don’t expect anything to just come to them.

Can you remember a time at the school that was of particular significance for you?

Probably a tutorial with George after our first production of Chekov’s Three Sisters, where he praised me for delivering something different, that came from using my own experience of anxiety. He encouraged me to embrace everything about myself that I thought was flawed, and that they are not flaws at all, but incredibly useful tools.

Looking back, what aspects of the training do you particularly value now you are in the profession?

Before I came to the school I was partly dreading ‘clowning’, and it turned out to be probably my favourite class of the whole year. I literally carry my red nose in my bag with me everywhere, just to remind me to play and fail and not take things too seriously…
Also, everything we learned in voice and movement, (I still try and do body conditioning every morning on a job to ground myself)  the many classes we had on language and how to approach a script on those first few readings, and the absolutely invaluable classes on professional development, where we learnt how to act professionally in every aspect of the industry and how to be completely proactive.

Oxford taught me to breathe. That it’s OK to fail as long as you keep learning, and that to be truthful on stage and screen you have to be truthful to yourself.