by Sherif Awad
-I was born to Jamaican parents in London, where I lived for twenty-two years and eventually moved north of England to Nottingham, East Midlands. I have one older brother and three younger sisters.
-When I was five, our headteacher of elementary school suggested my mother enrol my older brother Julio into Saturday performing arts school, as he had so much energy and liked to entertain his classmates a lot. This took place at Mountview Theatre school, which wasn't far from where we lived. When I went with mum to pick Julio up from class, I immediately wanted to a part of the joy I witnessed during the end of their class. The acting, sing and dancing involved in the scene they where rehearsing lit a spark in me!
-Growing up, I was inspired by Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, British black comedy shows such as Desmonds and the Real McCoy, Lenny Henry and many African American Films and television shows, such as Moesha, Sister Sister and Keenan and Kel. I could relate to the characters a lot more and would find inspiration and hope in one day being able to follow in the same footsteps. I also found role models through music such as Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Aaliyah and Missy Elliot to name a few, as their creative genius always seemed to spark inspiration and innovation for me and worldwide.
-Whilst studying and learning to become a creator, what is usually taught in institutions is only the base foundations pertaining to mastery of your proficiency such as, acting, singing or dance etc. The real professor is life experience and the more of it you can get, the better creator you will become. Being a creator is also a marathon journey and not a sprint towards your goals. Few are lucky to be able to land a large job immediately. There's also the consistency and determination that has to be continuously implemented in order to keep the momentum flowing and to sustain one's mindset throughout the quieter periods, where production isn't flowing as regularly as liked.
-It is satisfying when you enjoy creating. If you're soul purpose is to achieve "stardom" then you will have to be prepared for the disappointment as there are a lot of shut doors along the way and people telling you NO. I create with a larger purpose to be able to do more things with the position that it can bring. When you create with more than just yourself in mind, you'll tend to enjoy it more and be invested enough to achieve what it takes. Being able to give back is a big passion of mine and strive to be able to do so in whichever way possible.
-Gender equality is a major factor within the industry and the conversation has become a lot more prevalent towards the end of last decade until now. Women have undoubtedly been paid less, given fewer opportunities amongst other things, and we're now seeing more women in writing, directing and producing roles, CEO's and executives taking the reigns more in leading a long overdue wave of power positioning. There's still, however more that needs to be done, especially for BAME female representation and opportunities, especially within the British film and television industry.
-The current situation within the British industry is with the lack of inclusivity and diversity across the sector. The misrepresentation and minimal representation isn't in direct reflection of the country and the multifaceted cultures and stories to which it stands. Nepotism and the structures within how creatives are able to access opportunities are very dated and need to be re-addressed, along with the resources and tools being far more outreaching to age groups above the 24 age limit. There are many older and mature adults wanting to gain access into the industry with limited tools and information to help provide this and this tends to be secluded to the larger cities, such as London, Birmingham and Manchester rather than also being wider spread afield.
-I try to approach work offered in a more holistic way, where I don't just grab every opportunity that's offered to me. I think it's important to know what type of creative you want to be and having a deeper understanding of where you resonate, casting type and the industry as a whole is key. If I resonate with the character breakdown, I will submit to it, especially if the breakdown is not ethnicity specific. This then allows you to be able to present yourself to casting directors and producers in a more flexible and versatile way and can be the different take and approach to a character that hadn't been thought of or realized as the perfect fit for it. Not being afraid to take risks and chances is key for me, as they can either go horribly wrong or be complete genius! Following my intuition has always been important and through not following it, I've learnt what not to do in the future. Always pay attention to details and gain all the information required before committing. Having a trusted Coach or Mentor is very important, as it can be the difference between reaching a goal one year down the line instead of in three or five!
-Making equilibrium is of key importance for me and which I can say is an ongoing progress. I've been fortunate enough to be a member of the Progressive People's Network, which has helped equip me with exceptional tools and resources to optimize potential and more equilibrium between my private and career life. Structure and lifestyle is key and is multifaceted. Ensuring that you set aside the relevant time and essentially work smarter with your time, you're able to ensure a better quality and balance between the two, as you tend to be a lot more flexible.
-I'm currently in pre-production for feature film "All Roads Lead to Home" produced by Darren Scott and future projects centred around more inclusivity and opportunities for creatives.