Seven emerging BME filmmakers from Birmingham will be given the opportunity to develop industry knowledge, professional connections and make a short film as part of a six-month artist development programme called BACK IN.
The dynamic programme, powered by innovative creative agency Punch and curated by talented director and entrepreneur Daniel Alexander will discover and empower the new wave of filmmakers with project support, bootcamps, one-on-one mentoring, masterclasses and peer-to-peer sessions.
The inaugural program will culminate with a screening of the participants’ new shorts that will be premiered, platformed and distributed at the end of the programme in December 2017.
We chat to one of the two females on this programme, Birmingham actress Tenisha White who like Issa Rae and Michaela Cole, has created her own platform to showcase her talent with a short film called Broken. The 31-year-old has featured in shows like Doctors, Shameless and Doctor Who.
So before filming you were into acting, so what made you want to be an actress?
I started acting at 12. What happened was in school we didn’t have a drama teacher. I think he had a mental breakdown because one time we were in lesson and he just ran out the door and that was the end of drama in our school. So my big sister used to take me to a class on two buses out of town. I could see how much she knew I loved it, and was committed to taking me twice a week, so I continued to do it. She’s a brilliant sister and going made it become natural to me. I love it.
What productions can we see you in?
I was a regular nurse in Doctors. I’ve done Shameless and Doctor Who. I did a film with Ray Winstone and Danny Dyer called ‘All in the Game’. Now I specialise in comedy sketches. I would love to act and produce my own comedy sitcom one day. Or just be in one, not even my own just being part of one. I also work with a comedy group that write sketches with me in mind and they give me a chance to do the ones that I’ve written too.
Have you found that more opportunities have come since you’ve been doing these sketches?
Yeah, quite a few comedians in Birmingham will message me and call me to do sketches with them. And I’ve recently joined TCN Management so Kojo Anim is now my manager. He said: ‘I want to push your comedy, I like your drama but I think you’re quite talented when it comes to comedy’, so we’re going to try and push that.
There’s been a lot of talk about the exodus black actors to America. So have you ever thought about going to America to pursue your acting and things?
I want too. I did move to London and a lot of the actors said, why did you move to London, everyone moves to London. We need to try and do things from here, so I moved to London for two years and then I kept coming back to Birmingham for work. My agent said that I get a lot of work in Manchester or Liverpool so moving to London I was getting further away. So I moved back to Birmingham. I’ve trained to do an American accent and now I’m training to do a London one. So, if an opportunity comes to go to America then yes. But I’ve got a child now so it’s a bit different to just pick up and go to America.
What does your child think when she sees mummy on tv?
She gets excited, and she came to watch me do a performance last month. She’s only two, but as soon as I finished she clapped and it’s weird that she knew to clap for me. But she’s a bit of an actress herself so that’s why. She’s naturally got it in her blood.
So you’re now part of a six-month artist development programme for filmmakers called BACK IN. Do you plan to be behind and in front of the camera for it?
As an actor we all have our days where we’re sitting around waiting for our phone to ring. So when your phone does ring and your agents calls saying ‘I’ve got his role for you.’ It might not necessarily be a role that you want but you go in for that audition because you’ve been out the loop for three months.
And bills to pay?
And that’s it yes, and bills to bloody pay. So, I have so many ideas in my head and think this is a role I would like to play and then I thought why not start creating these roles, what are you waiting for? What’s saying you can’t as an actress can’t start making your own roles and creating characters that you want to portray. This programme will give me a great opportunity to expand on what I’ve already done and learn more.
Tell me about your short film?
I came up with this idea, then I called Daniel Alexander and I called an actor and said, ‘how do you feel about this, what do you think about it?’ and they got on board, and within three weeks we shot ‘Broken’. We put it in film festival to share and it’s been selected in five. I had never even filmed in my life, so I’m really proud of that. That’s what’s inspired me to continue.
So, what’s Broken about?
So broken is about domestic violence. A couple are in a very unstable relationship but you can see that there is a lot of love there. There’s lots of twists and turns, I didn’t want it just being straightforward.
So that’s broken, what’s the short you’ll be doing as a part of Back In?
The film I’m doing for the Back In programme is called ‘Spite’ and it’s about a mother who has had her child taken from her, from her ex-partner and she thinks it’s as simple as going and knocking on the door and getting her child back but it’s not. The law says he’s the father, he’s got as much right as having the child as much as the mother. So, she doesn’t know about this law so it’s about her journey to deal with the social services, to deal with the police, to deal with the courts to get her child back.
Watch Broken below:
To keep updated follow @tenishawhite1 on Instagram and @tenishawhiteact on Twitter.