Scene Profiles

SceneProfiles| SPIN & Kingsley Amadi – Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards Favourite Web Series & Actor Nominee

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As the exclusive online media partner for the Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards we will be featuring each of the nominees in the lead up to the awards ceremony on 17th December. The event, which is in conjunction with Vox Africa (Sky218) and sponsored by Google and Afrinolly, will celebrate the best online content produced by black British and international digital media creatives across short film, web series, music promos, blogs, magazines, social networks and more. To grab one of the limited tickets to the event, click here.

Meet Kingsley Amadi, the talented actor up for the Favourite Web Series Actor Award for his portrayal of Dan in the web series SPIN. In a double whammy he is also the Director of Snowpix Media, the company behind SPIN which is up for the Favourite Web Series Award.

Experienced both on the stage and in front of the camera, why take on the world of the web series? Why not? Kingsley said:

"I originally wanted to create something I’d want to watch, not knowing the buzz it would pick up in such short time. We plan to finish SPIN and possibly another season and also launch a new web series called 'JUICY'."

It couldn’t have been easy; as all web series producers know the learning curve can be an interesting and stressful one.

"Creating SPIN I learnt I needed to film all the episodes prior to release, but I was caught off guard at first."

Even so, they have gone on to produce one of the most popular series on the web. In addition to this, Kingsley also lists being established in the UK media industry and creating music videos for up and coming Afro-pop musicians as his proudest achievements to date. When asked why people shout vote for him and well as the web series SPIN, the multi-talented Kingsley said:

"We are very hard working and driven. We have the young active and creative minds it takes to break barriers. We believe in results, we only want recognition for the hard work of everybody involved in the creation of SPIN, to keep going and creating magic for the supporters of web series."

To vote for Kingsley to win the Favourite Web Series Actor Award, click here. To vote for SPIN to win the Favourite Web Series Award, click here.

To find out more about Kingsley and SPIN, see the links below:

Twitter: @Kingsleyamadi

www.youtube.com/SpinDramaTv

For regular news, updates and opportunities, follow us on Twitter at @Scene_TV and 'Like' the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SceneTV

SceneProfiles| Letitia Hector – Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards Favourite Web Series Actress Nominee

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Letitia final

As the exclusive online media partner for the Screen Nation Digital-iS Media Awards we will be featuring each of the nominees in the lead up to the awards ceremony on 17th December. The event, which is in conjunction with Vox Africa (Sky218) and sponsored by Google and Afrinolly, will celebrate the best online content produced by black British and international digital media creatives across short film, web series, music promos, blogs, magazines, social networks and more. To grab one of the limited tickets to the event, click here.

First up is Letitia Hector, who has been nominated for the Favourite Web Series Actress Award.

The opportunity of playing the leading lady in the popular web series came about after Letitia applied for a role in the theatre production Love is a Losing Game’. Now while the audition was unsuccessful, she obviously did something right as six months later she received a very interesting call. Babi Isako, the writer of the play shared plans to create a web series called 'Venus vs Mars' and she had Letitia in mind for the star role. Speaking of that moment and how her web series career began Letitia said: “I wasn't totally taken with the proposition at first but after we met, read through the script, met the cast…it felt right!”

One year on, 'Venus vs Mars' has a successful series one under its belt with season two launching very soon. Some people in the industry can be a bit sceptical about the world of the web series but this has proved to be a great move for Letitia’s career.

“I’ve managed to do so many things off the back of 'Venus vs Mars' and for that, this project has been my biggest achievement to date. It's so nice to be a part of something that started off as such a small vision and managed to cause the MAJOR waves it has. That's just amazing to me. I feel real blessed to be a part of Venus vs Mars because I truly believe as a team we have the power to exceed the skies.”

Everyone knows that the life of an actor is a hard one but Letitia clearly has her eyes on the prize. So what’s next for this determined lady?

“My plan is to continue working hard because I believe you get what you put in. I believe I have places to go, people to see and I know I won't achieve this if I'm twiddling my thumbs. I woke up this morning for a reason, so I want to show God he made the right choice.”

Finally, when asked why people should vote for her, Letitia put her case forward.

“Because I'm just a girl who decided to go for it!! Please support my dream and the dreams of many of those who believe they can't.” 

To vote for Letitia to win the Favourite Web Series Actress Award, click here.

To find out more about Letitia and see her in action in Venus vs Mars, see the links below:

www.letitiahector.co.uk

www.venusvsmars.co.uk

Twitter: @letitiahector  @followvenus

Instagram: LetitiaHector VenusvsMarsShow 

 

For regular news, updates and opportunities, follow us on Twitter at @Scene_TV and 'Like' the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SceneTV

 

SceneProfiles| Andre Royo – Actor (Calloused Hands, Red Tails, The Wire)

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Andre royo

Recognise this face? Fans of cult hit The Wire will. We recently caught up with actor, producer and writer Andre Royo to discuss his role in the acclaimed film Calloused Hands (Woolfcub Productions). The film, tells the story of 12-year-old Josh, a mixed race boy growing up in Miami who lives under the oppressive weight of his abusive step-father. He manages to forge his own path in life when his estranged grandfather insists he study for his Bar Mitzvah. In this SceneProfiles, Andre talks about playing the character Byrd, the impact that his cultural identity has had on his career as well as life after The Wire. 

 

Firstly, what attracted you to this role?  

After working on a show like The Wire, the idea of playing the lead character in a movie was just the challenge I wanted.; especially when a director was putting his own true  story of abuse and hardship on screen, trusting me to help tell his story. I thought Jesse was doing a courageous thing.  The intense struggle of raising a kid, the highs and lows of wondering how to motivate and push a child to reach his or her potential, dealing with the pain of lost dreams and the struggles of substance abuse –it was the challenge of getting it right that first opened my eyes to the project.

 

There are many themes in Calloused Hands – from the nightmare of failed dreams through to culture and identity. How have these themes been relevant in your own life and career?  

My whole life has been  about chasing a dream with no safety net. All or nothing. And there were times where ‘nothing’ is all I saw. I was never totally outside myself to see how I handled my own failure at times. Plus being a mixed kid and raising my own daughter who is also mixed, I felt it was important to get a chance to act out some personal fears through the character of Byrd.

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SceneProfiles| Jesse Quinones – Writer & Director (Calloused Hands)

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jesse

It was recently announced that Calloused Hands, the acclaimed film by Jesse Quinones (of Woolfcub Productions), will be opening the 8th annual British Urban Film Festival. Based loosely on Jesse's own life and starring Andre Royo (Bubbles from The Wire), 'Calloused Hands' tells the story of 12-year-old Josh, a mixed race boy growing up in Miami who lives under the oppressive weight of his abusive step-father. He manages to forge his own path in life when his estranged grandfather insists he study for his Bar Mitzvah. We caught up with the talented filmmaker to find out the motivation behind telling his story, what advice he would give to other writers and directors and of course, what 'diversity' means to him.

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SceneProfiles| Shameless Star & Actress Karen Bryson

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With the hit Channel 4 drama 'Shameless' coming to an end after its 11th series, we caught up with one of its stars Karen Bryson to talk about her role as Avril, her acting journey and her thoughts on diversity in the UK TV industry. 

 

You must be sad that Shameless is coming to an end. What has been your favourite Shameless moment involving your character Avril?

Aw yes, not only for me but for the loyal fans, who've watched the show evolve over the 10 years. Shameless has almost become part of our unconscious psyche. However, it's great we're ending on a high. After all, all good things come to an end.

There have been so many great 'Avril' moments, but I suppose the most 'telling' moment would have to be when Avril’s perceived togetherness falls apart and we discover she's hiding a huge debt problem. The thing that comes out of that is the love and support of her family Jackson and Letitia. Once it was all uncovered, she could finally be herself warts and all…I think that was when she really became part of the Chatsworth.

 

You have played Avril for so long – what have you learnt from you character that you will take with you?

Oh I learnt so much from playing Avril… One of the main things is ALWAYS think before you speak… She had such an acid tongue, which got her into a lot of trouble!! But as an actor, the thing I've learnt and will take with me is to be brave enough to take risks, think outside the box…that's where real creativity happens. 

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Scene Profiles| Tanya Mukherjee – Diversity Manager at ITV

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As part of our Scene Profiles series, we caught up with the lovely Tanya Mukherjee, Diversity Manager at ITV, to discuss her role as well as her thoughts on diversity in the UK television industry. 

 

Please can you describe your role at ITV?

I’ve joined the Diversity team to work on our partnership activities with the Creative Diversity Network and to focus on onscreen diversity across ITV channels. We’ve got some work to do on the latter but there’s some real momentum on this at a senior level.

Soaps & Continuing Drama are at the heart of ITV’s diversity successes and I’ve been working with Emmerdale on an initiative for BAME writers living in Yorkshire & the North East. There’s a significant underrepresentation of writers from minority backgrounds so it’s a chance to address that and connect with local, regional talent. But moreover, it’s bringing that creative talent to ITV and signposting that we want a relationship. 

 

What has been your career path – how did you get to where you are today?

I started in publishing then got a job in TV drama working my way up to script editor. I worked in a few roles at ITV but have always had a passion for making programming diverse so I’m enjoying this challenge now. It’s also interesting to see things from the broadcaster perspective as opposed to programme making. I know what it’s like to be out of work, waiting to get another show, and when you are from a minority background there can be a nagging doubt that you’re not getting the same opportunities as everyone else. You have to be very confident to put that to one side and persevere.

 

What is ITV's mission and objectives when it comes to diversity?

To ensure our content reflects the nation, with authentic portrayals that avoid stereotypes, and to make our programmes accessible to everyone. That follows through in the workplace, making sure it’s fully inclusive for everyone who works here.

The business case is key – understanding the commercial correlation between onscreen diversity and bringing in new audiences and ultimately revenue. ITV doesn’t have platforms to test talent out like BBC2 or 3, BBC Radio and E4, for example. There’s pressure on shows to be a commercial hit straight away on both ITV1 and ITV2, plus we do a lot more mainstream, non-niche programming. The overriding factor though is that our audiences are changing, the UK is changing and global sales are a priority too. If you’re looking at global audiences, ‘ethnic minorities’ certainly aren’t in the minority. Add aggregate audiences who identify as disabled or LGBT in worldwide markets and you’re looking at some serious volume too. So that commercial imperative is what should drive change in terms of diversifying content. We have to reflect our audiences and make relevant content.

It’s important to note that it’s not just minority audiences who want to see themselves on TV; lots of viewers, especially in urban centres, want to see the nuances and diversity of their worlds reflected too. It’s a myth that white audiences turn off when there’s a non-white cast for example – the upshot is that you attract both BAME and white audiences and we’ve got the figures to prove it.

 

What schemes and projects are ITV currently running in regards to diversity at the channel. Also, what have been some of ITV's success stories in this area?

We partnered up with the FPS (Foundation Placement Scheme) in Yorkshire and the MFPS (Media Foundation Placement Scheme) in Manchester, (which aimed to give young BAME talent the skills to break into the industry), and ran ITV Enabling Talent for talented TV types who had a disability. One graduate of the MFPS scheme got a placement on Corrie, which turned into a full time role with the editorial team. He’s now writing his own original scripts and was selected as one of this year’s Media Guardian’s ‘One’s to Watch’ for the Edinburgh TV Festival. Another colleague joined the business through Enabling Talent with social anxiety disorder. As well as holding down a demanding job, he’s been facilitating great projects as ITV’s Diversity Champion for Disability and won our internal Pitch Star competition for most innovative programme idea. Individual stories like these are really meaningful.

You can’t keep re-running positive action or diversity schemes so it’s important that the institutional process changes as a result. We’ve made diversity an intrinsic part of Recruitment and Graduate programmes and ITV Apprenticeships in terms of how and where we attract people.

 

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Scene Profiles| LionHeart – ‘No Make Up Today’ (Short Poetic Film)

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LionHeart is the man behind the poetic short film ‘No Make Up Today’. Speaking about his inspiration behind the artistic piece and why he chose to present it as a visual poem, he said:

I wanted to provide an awakening, a trigger of understanding and also a warning to not knowing the parts of you that dismember the ‘true you’. We all go through issues, and I feel this visual poem allows me to lighten the load. Film has always been associated with a ‘suspension of disbelief’ – I wanted to take people away and invite them on holiday to their subconscious all at once. Film has the power to do that.

LionHeart has a series of visual projects on the way, all leading to the release of his short film ‘They Killed A Man Last Night’ (#TKAMLN). “I put so much energy and effort into the concept and portrayal of my poem in this and I can’t wait to see the worlds reactions and interpretations."

To find out more about LionHeart, visit:

www.lionheartfelt.tumblr.com  for visual / literal inspirations, sneak poems, art and more

www.youtube.com/user/lionheartfelt for all moving visual work

@lionheartfelt to interact and keep up to date with news and events

 

For regular news, updates and opportunities, follow us on Twitter at @Scene_TV and 'Like' the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SceneTV

 

Scene Profiles| Susie McShane – Tony Blair Faith Foundation

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We recently caught up with Susie McShane, Senior Communications Manager at the Tony Blair Foundation to find out more about their annual Faith Shorts competition. 

 

What is the Faith Shorts Film competition? 

Faith Shorts is an annual global short film competition run by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to encourage participation in film, gives young people an outlet to talk about their faith and offers cameras to those with a great idea but without the money to film it.  This year, we're asking 14-27 year olds to submit a three minute film that answers the following brief: "Let me show you how my faith inspires me". 

 

What does it aim to achieve?

Faith Shorts is a great opportunity for young people to express what their faith means to them in their own words and a chance to challenge some of the presumptions that exist about religion. Last year one 14 year old film-maker from the North West of England sought to tackle stereotypes about Islam and terrorism through his film "My Name is Tayyab". "Islam is a religion of peace, the actions of a few should not define a whole religion," proclaims Tayyab in the film. 

Through these films you can form opinions based on first hand information. You learn that not all Muslims think "this" and all Christians think "that"- they have a great range of views and there is often disagreement within religions and not just between them. So seeing this diversity helps reduce stereotypes. It is this human connection that really helps people understand where "the other" is coming from.  Ignorance is often the source of conflict as people fear the unknown. By building understanding we can help to avoid conflict in the future. 

We also want to make filmmaking accessible to young people all over the world, regardless of what background they come from. Those who don't have access to a camera had the opportunity to win a camera to make their film. This element of the competition recently closed and we sent cameras to young people in countries including Sierra Leone, Kenya, South Africa, Pakistan, Serbia and Palestine. 

 

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Scene Profiles| The Naked Poet – a Film by Jason Barrett

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Earlier this month, SceneTV attended the premiere of independent film The Naked Poet. Taking place at the prestigious BAFTA HQ in London, the event was attended by a host of familiar faces including Chucky Venn (EastEnders), Jimmy Akingbola (Holby City) and Louisa Lytton (EastEnders, The Bill).

The Naked Poet is the story of a young poet called Lazarus, who explores the difficulty with matters of the heart. When faced with the painful and confusing decision between long term girlfriend Louise and new found love Simone. Can a man be in love with two women? Can a heart be split in two? Are the sins of the father visited upon the children? These questions and many more are asked, argued and answered in this dramatic thought provoking real to life depiction of middle class urban life.

(Trailer contains language some may deem offensive)

Jason Barrett not only wrote and directed the film, he also played the lead actor Lazarus; other cast members included Petra Letang, Michael Harvey, Kyla Frye, Aml Ameen, Michelle Gayle, Kelle Bryan and Mohammed George. During the Q&A session, Barrett highlighted two key messages delivered by the film 1) dealing with addiction and that often the addiction is transferred rather than dealt with entirely and 2) sins of the father – how childhood experiences can have a profound effect, leading history to repeat itself. Barrett also explained his motivation behind making the film; he said that he wanted to put out something different to the usual 'urban' films that grace the cinema screens. While there is a place for gang/street films, Barrett was concerend about the balance and wanted to show a different lifestyle that exists and that many people could probably relate to more. You know this received a huge thumbs up from SceneTV – we love content that challenges perceptions and tells an alternative story.

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Scene Profiles| Ash Bhardwaj – Writer, Presenter and Producer: ‘Two Cultures, One Body’

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Not too long ago, I came across a taster for an interesting travel-adventure documentary called 'Two Cultures, One Body' and was immediately intrigued. SceneTV recently caught up with the man behind the doc, Ash Bhardwaj to find out more…

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself e.g. your past career experience and what you do now?

I grew up in my Mum and Dad's restaurant – my Dad was Indian and Mum English. I studied philosophy at university and then became a ski instructor in New Zealand and Switzerland.  I now write both as a journalist and a copywriter. Whilst trying to develop programmes, I am working for Walking With The Wounded, the soldiers' charity and have just finished making a documentary about the team who will be summiting Everest.

 

What is 'Two Cultures, One Body' about and what encouraged you to write and develop it into a programme?

'Two Cultures, One Body' is, essentially, about me trying to resolve my heritage conflict and figuring out what that heritage means to me as a mixed-race person in Britain.  It is about me taking my father's ashes to India for a traditional ritual and finding out more about India.  I was planning on doing the journey when a friend recommended I write it as a documentary! 

 

What do you hope to achieve with 'Two Cultures, One Body'?

To make programming about identity and how heritage and race are linked to that.  There has been stuff done about racism and multi-cultural Britain, but very little from a positive and curious angle – and not much about what the place of our heritage means to us now.  Mixed Race Britain explored it from a social angle and George Alagiah is great.  I want to take a fairly fun and playful approach to the subject; not make it too heavy and intellectual – to really get involved in India and show it can be a fun and interesting place, not just economic or travel programming.  I think there's room to be both Indian and British and I want to see what great things I can take from my heritage – I can almost pick and choose what bits I like.

 

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