Sophie Stone is the first deaf student to win a place at the acclaimed drama school Rada. She talks to Ushma Mistry .

SOPHIE Stone affectionately watches her five-year-old daughter as she plays in the living room of their one-bedroom flat, and is savouring the moment because from next month she will get very little time to do so.

The 24-year-old single mum from High Wycombe has just been accepted as the first deaf student to do an acting degree at Rada, one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world, and will be embarking on the toughest three years of her life.

She says: "I have been doing drama and theatre since I was six years old, and I have always wanted to be an actor. When I was a kid it didn't matter so much, but as you get older it gets more serious and you have to take it more seriously.

"I have to prove my ability rather than my disability, but I have not gone out of my way to prove I can do this because I am deaf."

Sophie was born deaf. Although she can hear through hearing aids and can lip-read, her everyday life is still a challenge. She has also had to bring up her daughter, Angel, on her own, and now her next biggest challenge is not only completing her acting degree at Rada but securing funding or sponsorship to help her fulfil her dream.

She adds: "I have to raise an extra £3,000 a year on top of my student loan. I am trying to find sponsorship, but I have not done anything like this before so I don't know where to start. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places."

Sophie has to raise money to help her buy books, dancing shoes, leotards and other things which are required by all Rada students and so far she has not been able to buy anything as she does not have the money.

Angel will go to a childminder while Sophie is at Rada and her family will help to look after her in the evenings. The support Sophie has had from her family and Angel's father and family has given her the determination to succeed at Rada even though she knows it will mean less time with her daughter.

She says: "I won't get to spend as much time as I do with Angel, which I am quite sad about, but I have to do this for the next three years then we will be in a position where I will have proper work coming in."

It was her mum who encouraged her to apply to the drama school. She went up for auditions last year, but didn't get in.

"I didn't really know how big Rada is. I put all my eggs in one basket, it was the only course I applied for, but I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. It was very overwhelming.

"I made it through to the last round but didn't get in but thought well if I can get this far maybe I can get in next year."

Sophie spent the last 12 months before the next auditions doing theatre and stage workshops at the Globe and other mainstream theatres.

"I felt more confident this time and I was more prepared, but I was surprised to get in to Rada," she says.

Sophie has always loved the stage, and as with all actors and actresses she hankers after the silver screen too.

"I would love to try and do a film and work with respected actors, but anything that comes my way will be an opportunity."

Rada has always taken on a number of students with disabilities over the years, but this is the first time it has accepted a deaf student.

Sophie's needs will be accommodated by Rada and a lot of the funding she needs to raise will go towards this.

She says: "They have sent their tutors on a training course so they can learn how to work with a deaf actor like me, so they know what they need to do for me.

"They are also trying to find sign language interpreters. I don't need them for everything because I want to be as normal as possible. I don't want to be classed as a deaf."

When she was growing up Sophie felt embarrassed to ask for help or ask people to repeat themselves, but now she has accepted it as part of her life.

"I always worry that I am holding other people back, but now I have learnt that I just have to learn to live with it," she says.

Patricia Myers, registrar at Rada, believes Sophie will do well at Rada and will get the help and support that she needs from them.

She says: "She is a remarkable young woman. She applied last year and didn't get in and she tried again this year and succeeded.

"We will give her the level of support that she needs to complete her course and I am sure she will find her own way of dealing with her disability, but we will be doing all we can to help her."

Sophie will be treated the same as all the other 34 students on her course, but there will be some things she won't be able to take part in, such as workshops that will require her to close her eyes and rapid question and answer sessions.

She adds: "I am both nervous and excited about starting the course next month it's also quite exhilarating. I haven't come down from the buzz of finding out that I got through.

"I am really, really, excited and I can't wait to act with people who think the same way as me and who want it as much as I do. I am amazed I am in this position and I will never take it for granted. I'm just going to seize the day."

Anyone wishing to help Sophie fund her course at Rada or sponsor her should email Patricia Myers at