Jimmy Akingbola on the red carpet for BBC adaptation of Roald Dahl story Esio Griot which he stars.

The British Blacklist Discusses Going Stellar with Jimmy Akingbola...(Part 1 of Our Exclusive Interview)

We, at TBB, had been waiting for confirmation to interview actor Mr Jimmy Akingbola. It seemed serendipitous that it finally happened when it did - right between the premiere of TV movie Esio Trot and the TriForce Short Film Festival. "Hi, lovely to hear from you... you guys have always been ...

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WATCH New The British Blacklist Advert Happy 2nd Birthday #TEAMTBB

WATCH the latest British Blacklist Advert! Happy Birthday Team TBB!!!   TBB Advert Mark One Group from Mark One on Vimeo.

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I’mPossible & The Guardian Launch The Biggest Demographics Survey on British Women of Colour TODAY! Deadline Dec 31st 2014

I'mPossible & The Guardian Launch The Biggest Demographics Survey on British Women of Colour TODAY! Deadline Dec 31st 2014

Today, the biggest online demographics survey on British women of colour has launched by London based social enterprise, I’mPOSSIBLE. Global CIC. Entitled ‘The Invisible majority: defining success and debunking the myths’ , the survey is set to lift the lid on the lives, aspirations, habits and current economic state of women ...

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Leann O’Kasi

Leann O'Kasi

Leann O’Kasi has appeared alongside actors Gregor Fisher and Tony Roper in the BAFTA award-winning BBC2 comedy ‘Rab C. Nesbitt’ and with Gangs of New York actor Gary Lewis in ‘Last Order’. She played the female lead in short film ‘Passing Shadows’ directed by Channel 4 'Coming Up' Director Iftekhar Gafar. On ...

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Sharron Spice

Sharron Spice

No biography available, to update please contact the British Blacklist: info@thebritishblacklist.com

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Abidemi Sanusi

Abidemi Sanusi

Abidemi Sanusi is an author, photographer and founder of Ready Writer - www.thereadywriter.co.uk, a digital content agency and budding film-maker. Born in Nigeria, she moved to the UK in her teens. Abidemi has an MSc in Development Studies, an MA in Christianity & the Arts and in her past life, has ...

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Madison John Speaks to MOBO Nominee Afrikan Boy Ahead of This Weds’ Awards!

Madison John Speaks to MOBO Nominee Afrikan Boy Ahead of This Weds' Awards!

Olushola Ajose better known as Afrikan boy is a Grime MC artist from Woolwich, South East London who is best known for his popular song released on YouTube many years ago 'One Day I Went To Lidl'. Since then, Afrikan Boy took some time out from the music industry to study  for a ...

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Director, Destiny Ekaragha

The British Blacklist's @DescantDeb Goes Pretty Far with Director Destiny Ekaragha

Destiny Ekaragha has a soul full of passion. It's mainly taken up with a love of film, but there's a significant proportion devoted solely to Jollof rice.   Sometimes I'll just stop what I'm saying and start talking about food... Honestly, the amount of interviews where Jollof rice is mentioned... I swear, ...

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Playwright, Ade Solanke

Playwright, Ade Solanke Speaks to The British Blacklist About Her Play 'Pandora's Box'

"I like the British Blacklist! I'm a friend on facebook, actually. You do really interesting stuff. Things have changed completely from 2 or 3 years ago." How can you not immediately take to someone who uses that as an opening greeting? This was my introduction to the multi-talented Ade Solanke, currently ...

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The British Blacklist Looks At The 1990s A Pioneering Decade of Black Film. Part One: Choices From the Past…

The British Blacklist Looks At The 1990s A Pioneering Decade of Black Film. Part One: Choices From the Past...

Part One: Choices from the Past It's never too early to start thinking about your legacy; to help you along August is the month which has been earmarked to remind you. Designated, 'What Will Be Your Legacy?' month in 2011, the intent is to spend August's 31 days taking stock, looking ...

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Sarah Jane-Crawford & Idris Elba

2014 MOBO Awards Nominations Announced!!! Idris Elba is A Surprise Winner. Voting For Nominees Now Live...

After a five year hiatus, the MOBO Awards are back in London by popular demand. Marking its 19th anniversary, the internationally established brand is celebrating nearly two decades of its growing success. This year’s emerging talents will champion the stage at The SSE Arena, Wembley on 22nd October, with the ...

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Bolaji Alakija

Bolaji Alakija

Bolaji Alakija is an emerging actor in the U.K. He developed a huge passion for theatre after creating and performing in a friend’s play in 2011. Bolaji then went on to study Performing Arts at West Thames College completing his HND (Higher National Diploma) whilst taking up extra drama school classes ...

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A TBB Re-Overview of Upcoming Indie Film ‘A Moving Image’ by Shola Amoo

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Nina wants to create the perfect piece of art but her creative juices aren’t flowing. She returns to Brixton, where she grew up, in search of inspiration but finds a very different community to the one she left behind. A Moving Image is a film about becoming a 21st century creative amidst a rapidly gentrifying city. – amovingimagefilm.com

Shola Amoo, a rising filmmaker, embarks on his first feature film A Moving Image (2014). Fresh from the success of his short film Touch (2013),which won him acclaim for its Afro-futuristic narrative and stylistic approach to visual story-telling, and was recently selected by Oscar nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Brokeback Mountain (2005)) for winner of the Shooting Peoples Film of the Month competition.

Amoo, known for his previous shorts (The Prayer, Reparations for the Soul), of which he also wrote and directed, has released the promo for A Moving Image (produced by Rienkje Attoh).

The story centres on Nina, played by Tanya Fear (Kick Ass 2); Nina is an actress and self-proclaimed artist (photographer) who isn’t making much gains in either fields but somehow manages to keep a light mood about her lacklustre situation. The teaser shows Nina walking through the vibrant backdrop of Brixton, taking pictures, enjoying the perks of an ‘unnaturally hot summer’ and spending time in her spacey but mostly empty warehouse apartment. Her friend Kara played by Kae Alexander (Bad Education, BBC 3), jokes that Nina is the cliché ‘poor, starving artist’ and although Nina can find this claim amusing she can hardly deny it.

Nina is also casually dating two men: a film star and a performance artist. The four characters featured in the promo make up a multi-cultural cast that truly reflects the community living in South London. The topic of gentrification is an important and reoccurring theme, Nina must come to terms with whether or not she is part of the problem and how she can make art that will have a positive impact on her childhood home.

The promo’s main function is to gain visibility and support for the filming that is set to begin after a CrowdFund. This seems to be the route many indie art projects are now taking when it comes to making films that don’t ring as commercial hits for big industry production companies. The notion that certain films are not profitable because they do not adhere to mainstream story-telling is now being actively challenged with people funding the projects they want to see. This new wave of community funded projects have been the launch pad for a number of creative endeavours including the recent hit Dear White People (2014) which has a current score of 91% (Fresh) from critics on the Rotten Tomatoes film rating website. We may be looking at the future of film. Crowd-funded projects bring alternative stories and characters to our screens and in doing so grant visibility and a more balanced picture of the societies they emerge from.

London based filmmaker and National Film and Television School graduate, Shola Amoo, is currently working in collaboration with an iFeatures scheme in the development stage for his drama The Last Tree (produced by Lee Thomas).

To follow the progression of the ‘A Moving Image’ project go to: http://amovingimagefilm.com/

review by Nora Denis / @lifeandstuff_ for the british blacklist

BECOME A Free Member of IdeasTap and Apply For Sky Academy £30k Arts Scholarship

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Sky Academy invites IdeasTap members to apply for one of five £30,000 Arts Scholarships (€38,000). These life-changing bursaries, which include a programme of expert mentoring, allow each scholar to focus exclusively on their creative practice for an entire year. Get ready to give up that day job…
The scholarships are open to artists aged 18-30 and are designed to help emerging talent from a range of disciplines to develop their work and take their careers to the next level. In addition to financial support, winners are paired with business and creative mentors from Sky and their industry to support them along the way.

  • Sky Academy Arts Scholarships are open to individuals working in the following fields:
  • Performing arts: theatremakers including directors, spoken word artists, puppeteers and live artists
  • Dance: dancers and choreographers
  • Music: musicians, composers, songwriters and conductors
  • Visual arts: including painters, sculptors, photographers, animators and digital artists
  • Creative producing: do you bring together disparate parts of culture in exciting and innovative ways? This category is open to creative producers working in visual arts, theatre, film and performance/dance
  • Creative writing: including playwrights, novelists, graphic novelists and poets – but not film or TV scripts

The five winners won’t necessarily come from five different categories. Looking at all the applications, the judges will pick the five entries they believe to be the strongest overall.

What’s new?

This year four scholarships will be awarded to artists living in the UK and one scholarship will be awarded to an artist living in the Republic of Ireland.
Also, based on feedback from last year, artists can submit either a written or filmed application – so you can choose the format you feel most comfortable with and which best suits your work. If you select a filmed application, please ensure your video is no longer than three minutes in length.

Restrictions

To apply, you must be an IdeasTap member aged 18-30 on the closing date (26 Feb 2015) and either be a citizen of the UK or ROI or have been resident in the UK or ROI for the last five years. Either way, you must currently be living in the UK or Ireland and be able to remain living in the UK or ROI for the duration of the scholarship to be eligible to apply.
You must only apply in one category – choose whichever category you think best suits your work – and please select either a written OR filmed application when filling out the application form.

For further information go to: http://www.ideastap.com/Opportunities

Part Two of TBB’s Exclusive Interview With Jimmy Akingbola on Upcoming TriForce Short Film Festival

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I want to talk about TriForce and the film festival. You’re co-founder of TriForce Promotions, and this upcoming one day short film festival, to be held at BAFTA HQ in Piccadilly on November 22nd (2014). Tell me about your vision for TriForce…

“Me and Fraser (Ayres) set up TriForce after we first went to the Edinburgh Festival (2003-04). We did a play there called People Next Door by Henry Adams and it transferred to London. But while we were there we had friends there and we were able to bring everybody together, even if they didn’t know each other… We would just text people and say, ‘Hey come and meet us at some dry sort of bar or club’…A remarkable thing happened. When people had shows or after their shows, they would come together and just catch up. Actors, directors, lighting people, the ushers, the bar staff – people would use the time to get to know each other, and…in a completely organic way, we built a mini-network! It was quite beautiful”

When they got back to London a friend was DJing at the private member’s club at Planet Hollywood where they organised another night for about 20-25 people. Afterward, the manager offered the space to repeat the event. So they decided to use Fraser’s birthday for the next. From there, it became a monthly event where each would invite his friends. Guests were welcome, but had to be vouched for. It was serendipitous timing, because it coincided with a new wave of exciting young actors just starting out their careers…

“… Ben Wishaw, James Corden, Sheridan Smith, Eamonn Walker… I mean, everybody has been to one of our nights!”

Over the course of a year, with one every month, the network kept building and expanding.

“… So, basically, you might work with someone but not see them in a year. But, by us doing these monthly network party nights, if you were in town at the end of the month, you could catch up… or take your friends to an event where the majority, are film-minded.”

What they didn’t realise was just how effective these parties were…

“We would bump into people and they’d be like, “Thank you so much, I just got a job because I just saw the casting director at your party(We) were… bringing people together, connecting people from all different types of backgrounds, all types of levels, people exchanging business cards…we realised we created a network before we created the company!”

The next phase, again, happened quite organically. Fraser Ayres was working on a script, and they decided to test it using the network. They invited people – the usual suspects, plus producer friends and commissioners from the BBC – to arrive a little earlier and did a reading of Maynard… with actors like Sheridan Smith and Aml Ameen to around 80-90 people…

“They all loved it and Fraser got a commission! That was when we realised we need to start a company. Because once we’d started the company we’d have the networking arm, then we’d have the platform for a writing arm, because we saw what Fraser did with his play. If you’ve got good content and you need people to hear it… find a venue and get people to come and watch it. Then after that we thought, “Why don’t we do the same for actors? Why don’t we start up a showcase for actors to be seen by the industry? In all this, without us shouting about it, without it being a topical word like it is now, our network was naturally diverse!”

…And the vision didn’t stop there! That desire to facilitate their fellow actors resulted in yet another monthly event!

“So one of our big events is called MonologueSlam UK – a free showcase for actors to be seen by 450 people at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. My job is to get 6 industry people there – like a casting agent, producer, writer, director. They don’t have to do anything, but if they see 20 actors that have been picked out of 200 actors and they find someone, what happens is that they will get offers of representation, people get jobs in films and TV, theatre.”

Akingbola mentions outcomes like a proud father…

“Some outcomes are like seeing a nervous young guy audition, get chosen, performs in the MonologueSlam. You see him come on stage, and you see his shoulders. Suddenly, he’s a different person. It’s about empowerment and education, as well. So, we just want to do that thing for all creatives… breaking down boundaries, of access and diversity.”

triforce_film_festival_fraser_jimmy

The next question they asked themselves was What else can we do…?

“Fraser said, “Why don’t we write a short film?” So, Fraser wrote a short film, I produced it, Mo Ali, director of the new film Montana that’s coming out, directed it. Lots of our TriForce Team helped make it, and suddenly between July and December, we had our first short film ‘Glimpse’.”

Not only that, but they cast an 18 year old actor called Jaz Deol alongside veteran Paul Bradley, whom Akingbola was working with on Holby City. Why? To help young talent…

“Put a young actor with a professional actor like Paul Bradley, he’s gonna learn. On the job, he’s going to learn… We’d been learning how to produce our short film, so it was all sort of a learning curve and a beautiful process…[following that]

“I woke up one evening and thought, “By Jove, I’ve got it! We need to do a short film festival!”

Apparently, Fraser is the slightly sane one, because he flipped out over the limited time they had set themselves to organise it.

“But I said, we’ve got to do this, because the short film is so important and I think it really displays… just how much talent is out there – not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well…”

So they booked the space and created – a platform for film makers to be seen by the industry – actors, directors, writers, the crew – as well as absorbing that month’s networking party. Free of charge. A film maker just has to show talent and produce a piece of work eligible for selection…

“Connecting film makers, bringing in the funding bodies like Film London that can help these artists. We do get established film makers, but we also get a lot of emerging film makers who don’t know how to get funding from the Arts Council or the BFI. So we’re just gonna use our reach, as a company of actors, to reach people that can help people’s career.”

The first film festival was a major success, it sold out, their first short film was showcased…

“But the next year, I said we need to go to BAFTA. That’s the home of film and television… providing access for hundreds of people…You can only go into BAFTA if you’re a member or you’re invited by them. But… we’re breaking down that barrier and letting people say, “Yeah, I’ve been to BAFTA. My films been screened at BAFTA at the TriForce Film Festival.” And by our relationship with these production companies, commissioning channels and film production companies, we’re also pushing for them to create outcomes for our winners. Because there have been too many of these initiatives (where) nothing happens… So we are saying, no forget that – no initiatives, no schemes, come and see the talent… see how great they are and while you’re there, engage that talent… I think that short films are so important. Our last winner Jane Gull won the TriForce short film award (Sunny Boy). The same film was shown on Channel 4 in August, and now she’s working on her feature film (My Feral Heart)!”

The TriForce Team encounter so many levels of talent at a time when there are many short festivals out there. But some are just not as accessible because of expense, the wrong background, lack of a film school education or lack of a big enough producer attached. TriForce don’t want to know where you’re from…

“This year, we’re doing the screenings all day from 11 to 6pm and then topping and tailing the screenings with seminars. All of our seminars are about empowerment and education. One is about diversity – the importance of the positive aspect and having that compassion. Another is women in film. Another is From Scribble to Reel – from the idea to your first short film – how do you get the idea off the ground? And then the next is about the career ladder – after you’ve done a couple of short films, what are the next steps to get your feature, to get representation and such…and we have an expert’s room… so that if you’re young, emerging or even established, you can engage with all of these different experts’ stalls, take their details and see how they can help your project. Then we’ll be doing the VIP gala evening in the night.”

I noticed that you have quite an impressive judging panel…

“Yes, a mixture of people with different expertise, tastes, and also just people that can give our film makers work! So, we have Kathy Burke – she’s a real supporter of new talent. We’ve got Matthew Justice, who was a producer of Attack the Block, the MD of Big Talk Productions. We’ve got Gary Kurtz, who is one of my personal favourites. He was a producer of the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (also, American Graffiti and The Dark Crystal). Then also, we’ve got Peter Cattaneo who directed The Full Monty, we’ve got Bola Agbaje who’s just released her first feature film (Gone Too Far!); Tony Jordan who we were talking about earlier -a prolific writer with a production company Red Planet, we’ve got Gina Carter who owns her own production company (Sprout Pictures) and we’ve got Steve November from ITV. So we’ve got 10 judges – probably 5 too many, but you can’t say no to any of them and all of them can offer the possibility of opportunity for our film makers.”

After this film festival what’s next for you personally?

“I’ve just finished three American jobs. A Dustin Hoffman film, a history channel drama called Sons of Liberty, where I play a real-life African American called Peter Salem. It s about the 1700s Boston Tea Party riots. I’m playing an African-American killing the British, which was really bizarre and interesting at the same time. Then I’ve just finished my first Hollywood movie with Legendary Pictures (as Sgt. Steve McFadden), who did World War Z and Inception. The film’s called Spectral and should be out in 2016, I think. Now I’m auditioning a lot for American work and some good UK stuff. But I’m probably gonna be back and forth from the States to the UK now. I’m not saying goodbye to the UK.”

triforce_film_festival_fraser_jimmy_2

No, you can’t! you have to stay!…

“I’m not, but at the same time, I want to do more interesting work and my business head says, give yourself the best opportunities, but go where the work is.”

I begin to thank this incredibly charming artist for sparing us the time to talk, and its only now that he mentions the funding. It’s great news!

“Thank you, and thank you for all the support for the film festival. Me and Fraser set it up and it’s bigger than both of us now. You know for 10 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve been putting our own funds into the company and from next year, it will be the first time we’ll ever have had funding! The Paul Hamlyn Foundation has just given us a substantial grant over the next three years to help us give back. They give money to the Royal Opera House and Tate Modern and they’ve just given us a quarter of a million pounds. So, as two full-time working actors providing opportunities for other actors, we feel really proud that a prestigious organisation like that has acknowledged us as Arts Leaders. We’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing… The more we do as actors, the more help that comes, the more it helps us to be actors because we see it from both ends.”

Well that s just brilliant. Congratulations. I hope the Americans love you, but not too much. Sorry. Good luck!

Jimmy Akingbola is known as ‘Mr Nice’, but my impression is of a man possessed of far more warmth and empathy than that name suggests.(Actually, I think of the Welsh marijuana smuggler Howard Marks, who was the subject of the 2010 film Mr. Nice starring Rhys Ifans). Sunny Jim is too cursory, but there is something Solar (or Soul-ar) about Mr. Akingbola. I’m not given to hyperbole unless completely moved to do so, but maybe it’s the solar association with Apollo, one of the more complex of the classical Greek and Roman deities. Because, as well as forging a critically acclaimed career path of his own, here is an artist who, through sheer empathy, has been partially responsible for facilitating the careers of others (Apollo: leader of the muses, patron of music and poetry, defender of herds and flocks – i.e. livelihood), who champions diversity (Apollo: has dominion over colonists, patron of truth), and who is investing in the future with the very existence of Triforce Promotions (Apollo: represents light, truth and prophecy).

Check out the reference to the first Blue/Orange play. Akingbola unhesitatingly reeled off the cast, director and writer 14 years after it was staged and 9 after his own run finished. That is love. Everything else simply reflects a man with his finger on the pulse, refusing to leave any man behind. And we can extrapolate that attitude to the people like Fraser Ayres who surround him share the vision, and those who continue to join them.

So, with the many-pronged dialogues happening in the Arts today, here is a man who is, with Fraser Ayres and their other associates through TriForce Promotions, simply doing it.

Watch the trailer for the TriForce Short Film Festival 2014

Jimmy Akingbola interview for the british blacklist by  @DescantDeb

TBB Reviews New UK Web Series ‘Neffy’ Created by Melissa Blake

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Toyin Ogunjumo as lead character ‘Neffy Okonkwo’ in new Web Series ‘Neffy’

Neffy (2014) is a mini web series produced by Melissa Blake which was released earlier this year.

The three part series follows Neffy Okonkwo (Toyin Ogunjumo), a Nigerian woman in her mid-thirties who has immigrated to Nottingham in search of a fresh start. Plagued by a troubled past, Neffy finds little relief in her new environment. With her faith in God shaken and her job as washroom attendant worsening her experience, Neffy is all but left to live a secluded life of long nights and lonely days.

Until one day she forms an unlikely friendship with her seventeen year-old next door neighbour, Allie (Harriet Millsopp). Allie is a nice girl who seems to be going through a rough patch with her over-involved mother. Neffy becomes concerned for Allie’s well-being and allows Allie refuge in her home quickly discovering Allie is pregnant. The situation forces Neffy to reflect on her past and confront what she has been running from, the result is, her compassionate qualities begin to come through as the hardened shell she created around herself melts away.

The series provides an alternative story to the many immigration narratives we have become accustom to in the West; rather than escaping a war zone or financial hardship, Neffy sought to escape the emotional wounds. The performances from the two main cast members translates as thoughtful and honest, tying in seamlessly with the professional standard of filming and an emotive eye for dramatic scenes.

Nominated for the award of Best British Series at the Raindance Web Fest, the production was able to make gains in garnering recognition and exposure. Blake, a promising young talent, finished with a first class master’s in MArt Film and Media Production at the Sheffield Hallam University. Well experienced in filmmaking and script-writing, Blake is one to watch in the vastly evolving creative industry.

 

Nora Denis / @lifeandstuff_ takes a look through the world of Online UK Content…

…get in touch via info@thebritishblacklist.com if you have an online project you think we should know about 

Fresh Strawberry Celebrate Huge Support at Exclusive ‘Status London’ Screening

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On Monday evening (17th November 2014) Fresh Strawberry revealed the first two episodes of their hotly anticipated reality series Status London to an exclusive audience in Central London. The show, which aims to inspire youth through the positive representation of 8 Black entrepreneurs within the entertainment industry, was well received by an audience that featured cast members and a guest list of some of UK’s freshest talent coming out to support the event.

Introduced by executive producer Sade Salami the evening epitomised the power of community and a supportive network with the likes of Hollywood actor Arnold Oceng (The Good Lie), Producer Victor Adebodun (Venus vs Mars), Charles Thompson MBE (Screen Nation Awards) showing love at the screening. The first-time producer gave an inspirational and heartfelt speech, outlining her entrepreneurial journey and desire to simultaneously inspire and change the perception of Black people through the creation of Status London, which she dedicated to her late father.

Drawing inspiration from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sade said: “A single story creates stereotypes because most of the time it’s negative and incomplete. I recognised that single story – especially when it comes to the Black British experience and I so wanted to be a part of the solution by creating something real.”

The overall reception of the preview was very encouraging as the audience laughed on cue and gave Sade and her team positive suggestions and feedback during the Q&A session that followed. The Q&A, hosted by Lorraine Russell, editor of award-winning blog The La La Report, was also an opportunity for the audience to get a feel for each of Status London’s cast members including Amanda Star, DJ Melody Kane, Jade Avia, Siobhan Copland, Mr Play, Sebastian Eubank, Mr Gorgeous and Travis Jay who all joined the executive producer on stage.

Support, positivity and hard work are testimony to the success of the event which Fresh Strawberry hopes will be echoed by the support of the show which will officially launch on Tuesday 25th November.

To get a glimpse of the glamour and find out the reaction from the cast members, check out the screening highlights…

 

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