by Sherif Awad
-I was born in Uganda, East Africa, I didn’t have a chance to learn to speak English from school, so the English I know, I learned from listening to friends speaking, but I learned more of it when I moved to the UK and I actually had to take a full course. I come from a family of 30 children, same father, different mothers. My father had a house in the city where he lived with most of my siblings and one of my step mothers, and I spent my childhood with my paternal grandmother in the village. I had no access to electricity, so I knew nothing about theatre, films or anything else regarding television yet my grandmother had a small radio for only the news. I wouldn’t have any childhood role models as there was no way I would know any of that, and when I started living with my mother, she had a black and white TV, and we had a limited watch and some unclear horse racing films due to bad signals. I went to the poorest and low standard school in the area, but we had activities like sports, music, scouts and girl guides, so I would join in all of them. I can say that I got lucky and made it to the school choir and girl guides. I had a very interesting childhood, I mostly grew up with boys, so we would play football (soccer). Our footballs, which we used to make using banana fibres and empty milk pints (plastic bags) to give them a bounce. (note: the empty milk bags, my brothers would bring them from the city, after collecting them for a full school term holiday, spent at our Dad’s). Playing football during childhood aided me to make it to my school’s, girls football team. I never used to go to the city for holidays as my mother had already separated from my father. I grew up with so many children at my grandmother’s, including my cousins. You can imagine how much fun we had having no one around paying much attention, whether you made it to school or not, my father could hardly tell which class I was in. So, we would climb trees, I was really good at gambling using my school fees to make profits out of it, playing cards with the rest of the village before paying off my fees and no one really cared, our once tough grandmother had grown too old to manage us all, so we literally turned the whole village upside down. At my grandmother’s, we used to sing and dance sometimes using pots and plastic plates for drums in the evening under the moonlight, when not playing fighting games.
My grandmother passed away at my early teenage years and I moved to my mother’s. I didn’t know much about my mother’s life, but she was a single mother, who was taking care of me and my other four siblings, she didn’t have enough to support all of us, including rent, school fees and food, after my father passed away a few years after my grandmother. I went to live with my other siblings in the city, at my father’s house, no one was really taking care of us and our needs, we had to make ends meet though. At sixteen years, I started working with a marketing agency as a dancer and a sales assistant, during the promotions. I later joined a dancing group, which became number one in the country. During my time with the group, I later turned to singing writing my songs, got signed by a record label and I really made it so well.I admired, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson.
-Then I got hooked to watching films, which it became an addiction as I watched only films during my hours off work. My friends would come around my house every weekend, so we could watch them together (used to call it our home cinema).
I wouldn’t pick, and I still can’t choose who’s better than the other as all characters are always good, though some are extremely good but still they are so many talents in the industry to choose who is better or who to specifically follow.
I would watch these films and wonder how much work, talent, passion, time is put in making these films, so for me, there’s no bad film.
I would pay attention to all the characters and I really admire and respect all the involved, from writers, producers and the characters.
I always had much interest in acting, but then, thinking of me acting one day, used to be in my dream, never have I ever had a thought that I would have a chance ever to do it, not even meeting these talents.
When I moved to the UK a few years ago, I applied to enrol in singing at college, to be taught how to actually sing, I had experience in singing but I was never convinced of my talents as I was never taught how to sing by a professional.
I was informed that they can take me on board if I’m willing to attend the whole package, that’s singing, dancing and acting. I knew I could gamble with singing and dancing as I was familiar with the two, but acting was quite a shock, wondering how I was going to do it.
I had a chance only to acquire a BITEC diploma level 3, in performing arts (musical theatre).
I was at the time also working in mental health and I had to acquire the required qualifications for it too, but before leaving college, I was discovered and signed by an Actors and Extras agency, that was in 2016, and I have been getting work through the agency since then.
I have featured in Adverts like for Winn Solicitors and Ladbrokes as a supporting artist and also getting more work with BBC one and ITV drama series, these include, Hospital People, Vera, Dumpling Ground, Wolf blood and my most recent was a Documentary with BBC one, playing a lady from Nigeria, I did the acting as the abused narrated her story, it showed 27/02/2020.
I’m very much looking forward to conquering the world with my surprising talent.
I’m still working in mental health as well focussing on my passion for entertainment. At the moment, I’m doing whatever it takes to balance the two, and still have space for my private and social life. I believe that I need as much time to rest.
Right now I don’t have any challenges related to gender in relation to my profession, but I have had some in the past, where I used to be called to meet with some influential people who wished to support and push my career ahead after noticing my talents, but thank goodness, they would let me know what to expect and what they expected in return.
The challenges were in part of what they expected of me which I wouldn’t be able to fulfil in the way they wanted me to. I wouldn’t put it on me being female, as Male artists also endure the same challenges at some point, depending on what the sponsors are asking for in return.
The current situation of the creativity industry in my country, I wouldn’t say much as everything is new to me and I’m only doing my best to catch up. When I’m offered any work, I have to check on my availability and ability, if I’m able, then I ask for more information and details if need be and I of course get so much excited. My current project is me right now, working on improving myself in every area and learning as much as I can about myself, what I am able to do, and the industry I’m so much excited about. I also do modelling, got signed last year, by different model Management agencies around the country. I don’t have a British, American, or any other accent but mine.