Everything I do is about storytelling – writing stories, pitching stories, editing stories, directing stories, producing stories, leading story workshops and courses, speaking in public about stories – stories, stories, stories.
And it always has been.
Let me rewind and start when I was girl, growing up in North West London – the eldest of three children – with a White British mother (a teacher from a South Yorkshire, coalmining family) and an Anglo-Indian father (an amusement arcade manager and owner and first generation immigrant).
Back then, I read a lot of stories. I wrote stories. I acted out my little sister’s bedtime stories in the corner of our bedroom, while our mum read aloud to her. I corralled my siblings and cousins into seasonal plays and performances, written, directed by and starring me.
I think of that girl now – she was facing so many problems she didn’t even know were problems. She was living a fairly unique life, due to the times and the nature of the two sides of her family. She would meet all kinds of challenges and adventures, great joys and deep sorrows, but stories would always be there.
When I was a month off becoming a teenager, my family moved – from London to West Yorkshire. Even though I knew Yorkshire in many ways – my mum and her family are from Barnsley and I spent a huge amount of time with them growing up – in other ways it was a completely foreign country. One I never felt at home in.
I slogged out a difficult adolescence there – a fertile ground for stories I would later tell. My places of safety at that time were listening to a huge variety of music and, again, being close to stories – acting in them and reading them mostly.
I got involved with drama at school and went to youth theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I listened to records in my bedroom and dreamed of being a movie star.
I left for Manchester at 18, where I studied English Language & Literature and worked all kinds of part-time jobs, making friends in the city and meeting my husband-to-be in the process.
I then graduated and worked in many jobs that involved some kind of writing – from press offices and internet start-ups, to broadcasting companies and city listings and culture magazines. But I still wanted to be an actor, so I headed back to London and trained at The Academy Drama School for two years, when I worked full-time through the week and trained every evening and weekend.
If you think it sounds tiring, it was! But it was also amazing. I worked in the daytime, as a producer at media companies including the Discovery Channel and the BBC, and spent every other minute on my acting.
On leaving drama school, I continued to work as a producer on digital and broadcast content, while auditioning and acting. I also moved back to Greater Manchester, got married and had a beautiful son.
Working, parenting, writing and acting was a lot – something had to give. So I stopped acting and focused on writing, in the few spare hours I had.
As I’ve gained more and more experience, I’ve been able to bring all the areas of my life and interests together: music; my huge interest in working on stories with and for children and young people; using my experience as an actor to become a director; bringing my understanding of theatre, digital and broadcast together to tell new stories in exciting ways – as a producer of my own and other people’s work.
I’ve done such a lot of different and new work, but the essence of me is right there, in the beginning years of my life – a little girl, growing up in a mixed-race family, with parents who didn’t get on and who would later divorce. That little girl had a passion for stories, for listening to music, for organising projects and for occupying all ten places on the Space Firebird top score leader board – a relic from my dad’s arcade. And in all those things, she hasn’t really changed!
My life has given me so much to write about and, for that, I am deeply grateful…