An aspiring actor was stunned after Russell Crowe donated nearly £3,000 to help secure his place at drama school.
Harry Pritchard, 23, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was accepted onto a course at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) but feared he wouldn’t be able to pay the £13,799 fee.
Determined to fulfill his dream, Harry set up a GoFundMe page on August 18 – and couldn’t believe it when it caught the attention of Hollywood star Crowe this week.
Crowe donated £2,741 to cover the deposit of Harry’s course fees, which are not eligible for Government funding. He said he hoped Harry is a fan of his beloved Leeds United, whom he has supported since watching Match of the Day in his childhood.
He also tagged businessman and friend Terry George in a tweet, who then made his own donation of £1,000 to the fund.
‘When my mum said Russell Crowe had donated, I didn’t believe her. I thought she was joking,’ Harry said.
‘I clicked on it and thought it must have been a wind-up, someone donating a few quid in his name for a laugh – then I saw he’d given £2,700 and it felt like my brain was exploding. It didn’t feel real, it felt like that Tweet he wrote was about someone else.’
He added: ‘From there it started snowballing,’ Harry explained. ‘It’s made me feel so humbled and thankful and happy, I cannot stop smiling.
‘I’ve sent a thank you message to Russell in a state of shock and disbelief, and I’ve spoken with Terry, who reached out to give me his best wishes.’
Harry has now raised over £10,600 to study at his dream drama school.
‘I love LAMDA but that fee was initially a worry – I auditioned regardless of whether I’d get there in the end,’ he admitted
‘I was looking for grants and loans, it was a really exciting opportunity for me, but there wasn’t much out there.’
On his GoFundMe page, Harry explained that he comes from a low income family and is the youngest of four.
Having loved performing from a young age, after finishing school Harry took a year out and went abroad, which he funded by working at a supermarket.
‘I was never as fulfilled as I was when I was on stage – returning from travelling I had a big question to answer: what was I going to do with my life?’ he explained.
‘I didn’t want to waste my life working towards something I had no passion for. So against every piece of advice from everyone older than me, I plucked up the courage to chase the “impossible” and moved to London.’
There he discovered quite how competitive the industry is, and how difficult it is to make ends meet while paying the capital’s extortionate rent.
He began auditioning for drama schools, submitting self tapes during lockdown, and managed to win a place on LAMDA’s foundation diploma.
‘The largest hurdle and biggest barrier for me is the cost,’ he wrote. ‘I come from a low income family who cannot afford to support me with the fees. The school offers only one bursary to cover the tuition for the year but I missed out as I didn’t receive my place until after it had been awarded.
‘I have been saving every penny over the past year, but it’s barely even enough to cover my living costs. That’s where you come in and can help make a difference. Every penny towards my campaign is step closer to LAMDA and a step closer training.’
Harry put his fundraising call out on Twitter, hoping someone would read it and retweet it.
‘It got a bit of buzz, then all of a sudden I see a tweet tagging Russell Crowe… I couldn’t believe it,’ he recalled.
‘I’m still trying to process it. It hasn’t sunk in – I’ve been watching his films for years and now he’s changed my life just like that. I can’t think of him enough for what he’s done. I just hope he knows how grateful I am.’
The aspiring actor said if the GoFundMe surpasses his fundraising goal, he would like to ‘pay it forward’ and help another student with their fees.
‘I’m the lucky one who got seen and that’s amazing, but I still have to make sure I do my bit to help out,’ he said.
‘I’d have to pay it forward… without everyone’s support it wouldn’t be where it is, I can’t quite believe that anyone would want to help me. I’m amazed.’
Mr George said he will be meeting with Harry, and ‘would not be surprised’ if Crowe arranges to meet the student too.
He told PA: ‘I trust everything that Russell does and says, he’s discovered a star and I thought it was worth supporting.
‘I spoke to him [Harry] this morning, he was extremely grateful, we’re going to meet at some point.
‘He’s getting to where he wants to be, but the most important donations are the small ones – if as many people as possible do small donations, you get to where you want very quickly.’