by Sherif Awad
This is artist Diddy Wheldon from the UK.
My Mother was very fashion conscious in her younger days and when I was a small child she was approached by a fashion photographer who wanted to photograph me for an exhibition. My mother also worked directly with the head of one of the unions in the creative Arts Industries in the 1970’s, and this lead to me being a child model for a company called Bride Style where I would model the children’s range of Bridesmaids dresses. Parallel to this we used to go camping around the British Isles and the association we were with, would put on stage shows, parades and carnivals, for which I would always be a part of, playing different characters and performing on stage. I remember at one point having stage fright and I would just look at the follow spots, so as not to look at the audience, from this point on I wanted to know more about lighting and sound for live performance. I also used to play the guitar and the alto saxophone, so being musical that ignited my interested in sound, and I pursued a career in the Theatre as a Sound and Lighting technician, which then introduced me into show and production management.
-I grew up watching old Hollywood movies from the 1950s, and have always drawn inspiration from a range of extremely talented and iconic performers , far too many to mention all of them but here are a few; James Dean, was a wonderful example of the troubled teenager in Rebel without a Cause, I also loved all the old musicals, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this was very much influenced by my grandparents who loved to dance, they would also take me to see Syd lawrence and his orchestra, so this what developed my interest in Dance. My favourite cowboy was John Wayne especially his Rooster Cockburn character and this ignited my interest in Horses. Influences also came from Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Natalie Wood, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Depp, however one of my all-time favourite English Actresses is Maggie Smith, I would love to have that quality like Maggie Smith has, she is just absolutely wonderful to watch, and such a brilliant actress.
-I like to travel and meet new people and absorbed myself into different cultures and I feel that I am always learning on a daily basis, I always have questions which I want answered and I search these answers out sometimes to my detriment. I do have a very inquisitive mind and I want to know how things work, why they are the way they are, what makes things be a certain way, how to be the best, how to improve things and how to translate all of what I know into the personalities of the characters that I play or the Art that I produce or the music that I make. I don’t think you can study and learn to specifically be a creator. I think you just are one, you know, the way I see it we are all born to be creators in our own right, we are all born geniuses, it just depends on which avenue of living and learning we follow to how the rest of our lives shape out. Obviously, you can always fine-tune your craft and learn from every source available that is out there – that is what I do, I study and learn from real people, places, animals, teachers, coaches, books, theatre, film, documentaries, music, poetry, dance, chefs, people who are masters of their trade, I am a universal student of life, and life can be so colourful and rich. The internet is also a true gold mine of information, one of my current favourites is YouTube! There is such a wealth of information available nowadays, so there is no excuse for people not to learn.
-I have travelled many places in the world and have been in magazines, newspaper’s, on the television in Film, on the radio worldwide, and I have had many interviews regards the work I have done long before the internet came to be such a popular and far-reaching network. So initially it was a bit of a whirlwind realising how many people had actually heard of me, or had seen my work, it was to be honest quite overwhelming and it took a while to fully accept this on my part. I was so unaware of how far my acting, modelling, music and art had reached. I remember there was a specific period of time when I received so many amazing emails, and comments, it made me feel very happy that I had made so many other people happy, that part of my life was very satisfying and I did feel at that point that I had achieved something special. However, I don’t really strive for stardom, I do strive to be a better person in life, as I can always see room for improvement, I am very critical of myself at times, and I am always striving to just be better at what I do. In this respect I do definitely strive for success. I think this is far more important than stardom.
-Are there challenges related to gender in relation to your profession that you face now?
I must admit that when I was younger, I faced a number of direct conflicts and challenges due to my gender that affected me quite deeply. In 1988 I was the only female that was trained in the way that I was at the Theatre, in Sound and Lighting, which to me was an achievement within itself, it was however difficult at times being so unique. In 2005 when I was a Production Manager, I was at one point the only female production manager on a fleet of 14 Cruise Ships, which was to me a great achievement, I am very happy that this is slowly getting better and that more women have been recognised in these fields. I think on a systemic level this will continue to play a part for the foreseeable future. For example, in the music industry only 1 out of 103 musicians are female and only 2% of these are music producers. The radio, film and television industry are no different…
-According to you, describe the current situation of the creativity industry in your country?
Due to the Covid-19 situation in the UK, the Music and the Arts has suffered enormously, as I write this in the UK Theatres, Cinemas, Libraries, Museums, Galleries, Music venues etc.., are still closed and they have been for almost a whole year now. A lot of filming was haltered for a good number of months and obviously this has made it very difficult for many people in the industry. However, it did push people to adapt to doing online shows and performances, readings and auditions, which in some respects has felt very strange at times, almost like an invasion of privacy. It is certainly not anywhere near the same as working on a stage or film set with an ensemble of like-minded people that you can actually physically interact with. It has been challenging to say the least. At this point, it is not clear if the UK will be fully re-open for the Arts and Creative industries, as it is all depending on case numbers. I hope personally come summer things will start to reopen again and we can have some sense of normalcy in the industry. I do think that come 2022 we will see a huge boom of creativity as we are no longer having to live under our restrictive lockdowns.
-About casting: I am not going to sugar coat it, casting can be extremely nerve wrecking at times, but also extremely exhilarating, and beautifully challenging at the same time. I really enjoy the process as it gives me the chance to play a new character, to absorb myself into the life of that character, I have been extremely blessed in a lot of the performances that I have been previously involved with, by not having to audition as they have seen previous roles that I have played and taken a chance on me in that way. Casting – and the film industry as a whole – is big business, so one of my advices is to not take casting decisions and rejection personally, it is very important to not let it affect you and just keep pushing forward. The more auditions you go to the better you will become at the process, see them as a way to learn. You just never know when you will get that big break.
-For new offers: I am very open to reading new scripts and I have a big pile of them at home that I have been sent over the years. For me the quality of the script is very important, there has to be a good string story, strong believable characters that have depth and purpose, there are some subject matters that I do feel very uncomfortable with and that I do completely steer away from. I do like comedy though and I strive to do more comedy. True stories I find griping and that too is something that I would like to do more of in the future.
-My greatest artistic achievement so far, is being able to see and recognise the true innocence and beauty in life and just being alive, for which I am extremely grateful. For me, it’s always been a very personal, inner journey – but at that moment when the spark of creative passion is ignited and you produce a beautiful piece of art or music or you find the true inner turmoil or innocence within the depth of a character, when you are so totally absorbed in the process or the narrative that you lose yourself completely and become one with your creation or character, that is when it begins to feel like a true artistic achievement, also when my artworks where on display for a gallery in America a few years ago, that was good.
-Parallel to the arts, I do love the outdoors, Horse riding, Camping, Yoga, boxing and dance are some of the things that I like to go to when I want to relax and unwind or just have some fun or me time. I have always been interested in Metaphysics and technology so about 4/5 years ago now I was researching and sought out the creator of the Bitcoin Blockchain, Dr Craig S Wright, who I have been leaning from ever since, he is a true inspiration and he actually inspired me to do a Degree, Masters and Phd in Metaphysics, which I started just before lockdown. I am now currently 2/3 of the way through my Masters. I am yet to start course’s in BSV Blockchain with the Bitcoin Association based in Switzerland as I find the technology fascinating.
-For newcomers, I say, if you are new to the Industry, it can be quite daunting, but the advice I have is never give up, your dreams are yours alone and they can be achieved, I have proved this over and over to myself that in the right frame of mind and with positivity you can manifest your desires, it is that old adage of practice makes perfect. With characters the more you know the character the better you will be as that character, do not let people be negative about your career choices, you can have a beautiful life in this industry if you choose to view everything as a learning experience and an achievement and not as a failure, if someone knocks you down, get back up again and keep going, and never give up on yourself or your dreams, because you have the power within you to make them a reality!
-I must admit that I am not very good at balancing my work life and my private life, my working life does tend to take over, this is because I am always creating or reading or researching or advising, I have to be very strict with myself to actually try and maintain a personal life. I have to meditate in order to claim my mind first as I always have so many ideas floating around in my head. My main go to for balance is either Horse riding for oneself or for family it is camping and being outdoors and at one with nature. I am not overly fond of city life and I would love to live on a little Island somewhere away from it all, maybe the far reaches of Scotland, just me and the beauty of life that nature has to offer, but camping is what I was born into and it is the only real time when the family can get together to spend quality time with each other without any outside interference.
-I have been involved more behind the scenes again recently due to Covid-19 and I am currently writing and producing and working with a new film Director who is based in Nigeria on a number of music videos and short films, highlighting the still very real situation of poverty for some of the local villagers. We will be looking to enter some of these into short film festivals in the future. Due to my interest in Bitcoin BSV Blockchain technology I am assisting a very talented developer in the building of a new music streaming platform which is using 432 and Anne, AGI technology, this will be integrated with the BSV Blockchain. As well as continuing my studies, I also have a number of short documentary film style ideas that I want to follow up on incorporating, Organic Farming and BSV Blockchain technology. I have also been in talks with a lovely lady called Casey in the states for some possible future podcasts for her company ‘Be the Broadcast’, she helps influences migrate over to the BSV Blockchain. A very good friend of mine in China has her own radio show and she has offered me for an interview and to showcase some of my music. Hopefully I will get back into acting and auditioning in the latter part of 2022, when most of my current projects are either completed or near completion, and I have more time.