As Nelly Scott stared boredly at her computer, she tried to make it look like she was doing something useful.
At 27, a temp at a health and safety company in London, she felt uninspired to say the least.
“One day, after I finished my chores and was waiting for people to ring the doorbell, my boss told me to at least pretend I was working” the 34-year-old from Canada but living in London tells Metro.co.uk.
“It was my lightbulb moment. I remember thinking to myself, what am I doing with my life?’
Nelly Scott, 34, a Londoner from Canada, organizes clowning retreats after quitting her job at a health and safety company to take up the art at a professional level
A few months later, Nelly tendered her resignation. And she knew exactly what she was going to do instead. She wanted to be a clown.
She said, “It may seem like an unusual calling, but performing is in my blood.
“Growing up in Ontario, Canada, with a theater director mother and a set designer father, it was inevitable that I would end up on stage.
“When I was a little girl, my parents even put me in their productions instead of paying for childcare!”
Nelly revealed that she grew up interested in performing arts and became fascinated with clowns after seeing a group perform in Paris at the age of 15.
Nelly originally wanted to be a professional theater actress, but on a family trip to Paris, aged 15, a street show of clowns captivated her.
“To me, their antics represented absolute freedom. They were so playful and it was clear they didn’t take themselves seriously.
‘During our holiday I went back to that performance about five times, and one afternoon I got into a conversation with the artists. Then I discovered that there was such a thing as a clown school.’
At home, Nelly had a high school social studies and career class, so she asked to research clowning.
The professional clown shared how a ‘lightbulb moment’ led her to question her life choices and quit her job
Her teacher told her it was “not a real profession.” Fortunately, her parents were more open-minded.
It gave Nelly something to strive for, but she had to overcome challenges first. When she was 17, an accidental overdose at a teen party left her fighting for her life.
“My recovery gave me time to rethink my priorities and make some changes. In the hospital I had spent my days thinking about comedy and clowning.
“As soon as I got fired, I auditioned for a year-long role with Canada’s Shaw Festival theater company.”
Nelly said clowning is “the ultimate way to get in touch with yourself” because life really can be “ridiculous”
After quitting her front desk job, she became a full-time clown performer and teacher in the summer of 2016, working under the stage name Zuma Puma.
At the age of 18, she began to study at various clown schools. After six years she moved to London and began to supplement her acting and clowning income with temping jobs.
She also found some work as a clown teacher on a part-time basis.
And finally, after quitting her front desk job, she became a full-time clown performer and teacher in the summer of 2016, working under the stage name Zuma Puma.
“Friends and family told me I was crazy and asked how I was going to pay my rent. But a friend helped me produce my first clown workshop and it sold out immediately.
Nelly is determined to make clowning for everyone and her love of retreats led her to create clown specific retreats
“With clowning comes the freedom to tap into life’s ridiculousness, embrace fun and joy, or express yourself fully in difficult times, no matter what.
“When people came to my clowning classes, I saw huge transformations – they became more confident and playful.”
Nelly is determined to make clowning for everyone and her love of retreats led her to create retreats for clowns.
Clowning for me is the ultimate way to get in touch with yourself because life can be really ridiculous so it’s about celebrating that and allowing yourself to act in total freedom.
My advice is to follow your instincts, embrace those lightbulb moments and let curiosity be your guide. That’s my red nose philosophy!’
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