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Meet the 5 Writers Selected for BBC Drama Production’s New Diversity-Focused Venture, The Break

Meet the 5 Writers Selected for BBC Drama Production's New Diversity-Focused Venture, The Break

Filming started this week on “The Break” – an exciting initiative between BBC TasterBBC Writersroom and BBC Drama Production to produce five original short film monologues for online, written by up-and-coming BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) writing talent from across the UK. Each short consists of a standalone, contemporary individual monologue.

The selected writers were discovered through talent searches, development schemes and theatre partnerships. Twelve writers were invited to a one day workshop, after which they pitched ideas. Five were chosen for production.

With a spotlight on diversity, and the 18-30 audience, these shorts will showcase writers with a strong, unique voice who have yet to write for the screen. BBC Taster will act as a platform for their creative work to be seen and shared. BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, Zam Salim is directing the shorts.

Meet the five selected writers:

Charlene James – System/Cycle
“I started this journey when I went to Drama school for 3 years to train to be an actress. I discovered quite a bit there – tap dancing wasn’t my forte, I felt uncomfortable pretending to be an embryo and if I wrote a monologue under a pseudonym, and said it was from a new writer, I wouldn’t have to trawl through audition books to find a new one to perform every week. I enjoyed doing that, so I wrote a play, sent it to the Royal Court and got on the Young Writers Programme. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have built relationships with theatres and get paid to write for them. Next year, ‘Cuttin’ It’, a play I wrote focusing on FGM, will premiere at the Young Vic Theatre, which I’m really excited about.

Having my roots deeply set in theatre, it’s a whole new experience approaching other mediums. It’s been scary and challenging writing for online drama, TV and film. But mostly, it’s extremely exciting creating characters that are presented in different ways, and it’s great that I can proudly put my name to this monologue.”

Inua Ellams – Swipe Slow
“I’m a Nigerian born, poet, playwright and performer, a graphic artist and designer. I’m also a Complete Works poet alumni, a playwright-in-resident at Soho Theatre, resident at theSouthbank Centre’s Poetry Library, and graphic designer at White Space Creative Agency. I facilitate workshops in creative writing where I can explore reoccurring themes in my work – Identity, Displacement and Destiny – in accessible, enjoyable ways for participants of all ages and backgrounds.

Recently, I was awarded; The Live Canon International Poetry Prize, an Arts Council of England Award, a Wellcome Trust Award. I have also been shortlisted for the Brunel Prize for African Poetry, longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, and a 2009 Edinburgh Fringe First.

I have commissions for, the Tate Modern, Louis Vuitton, Chris Ofili, National Theatre, BBC Taster Online Drama Shorts, Battersea Arts Centre and Soho Theatre. My first two published books of poetry are; ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’ and ‘Candy Coated Unicorn and Converse’. I have also published several plays including ‘lack T-shirt Collection’ and ‘Knight Watch’.

In 2005, I also founded the Midnight Run, a cross art form nocturnal urban movement to reconnect inner city lives with inner city spaces.”

Rena Annobil – Tying the Knot
“When I was a child I would pick up my notepad and start a new novel every week. But “Be an Accountant!” were the words that resonated around my (and countless Indian friends) ears. So I put down my notepad.

After graduating from Aston Business School I realised I sucked at accounting so started working in broadcasting and am now an Assistant Producer in radio.

During the interim, I trained in Indian Classical and Contemporary Dance and founded Caste Away Arts Theatre Company with a friend. We wrote, produced and directed plays which focused on breaking social taboos. Since then I started up a theatre group specifically for women in Tower Hamlets where I live. In the last three years I have written, produced and directed several community theatre productions.

I have also been a regular columnist for an online magazine and have my own blog. A couple of years ago I decided that I wanted to write for TV. I’m passionate about good drama and comedy and hope that my online BBC Taster Drama Short will be a great place to start.”

Sabrina Mahfouz – Breaking the Code
“Firstly I suppose I should say that I never thought I would be a writer. I wanted to work in either politics or fashion (not as different as you might think). Whilst pursuing both these options I began writing and performing poems and then theatre shows and now, my BBC Taster Drama Short for online.

The most motivating reasons I have to get me through the (often scary, always difficult) process of actually finishing a piece of writing is that I want there to be as many interesting, major female characters as male and a huge range of culturally and ethnically diverse characters that is representative of the UK in all theatre, TV and film productions. There is something immeasurably important at being able to see multiple representations of someone you can identify with so that you don’t come to think of yourself as only occupying ‘one story’ and therefore narrowing your sense of who you are and perhaps, your possibilities.

In my writing, I also like to explore the various places I’ve worked, questioning what on earth was going on there, what’s going on anywhere, what are we actually even doing? I’ll never find the answer, but I love finding stories that seem to take us closer to it.”

Amber Hsu – The Match Girl

“I’m a Chinese-born, UK-based writer, filmmaker, and visual artist. I have written for and with the Royal Court Theatre, Orange Tree TheatreIslington Youth Theatre, and National Theatre Studios.

In 2014, I was a recipient of a Film London London Calling Award to write and direct my first short film, ‘Next Time’. I’m also a graduate of the Royal Court’s Studio Group and Unheard Voices Programme, and was a member of the BBC Writersroom London Voices Group. From this, I went on to be selected for the online BBC Taster Drama Shorts.

As a regular fixture on the small-press scene, I self-publish comics, zines, and artist books. I’m also the founder and creator of Tiny Pencil, an independent anthology artzine and press. I also write poetry and spontaneous verse through the One Pound Poem project.

I once also worked in a morgue.”

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