A drama school for Asian and other ethnic minority performers has been established in London, which its founder claims is aimed at discovering “untapped talent” and diversifying the industry.
The Academy of Asian and Ethnic Dramatic Arts, opening next month, will offer a series of courses – including a Saturday school for young people and evening classes for adults – that are aimed at providing aspiring performers from ethnic minorities with the skills they need to work across television, theatre and radio.
Central School of Speech and Drama graduate Hajaz Akram has founded the school, claiming it will also allow the students to “answer and address issues that affect their identities and Britishness”.
He said: “I am confident we will find talent out there who, if they had not come to the academy, would have been missed. There is a lot of untapped talent out there which I want the media, film, TV, and writers to know about.”
Operating from studios in central London, Ealing and Walthamstow, AAEDA will offer weekly Saturday classes, split into three age groups, each with up to 15 students in.
There will be one class for children aged six to ten years old, another for children aged 11 to 15, with the third accommodating people aged 16 and above.
A ten-week term will cost £345 to attend, and will provide students with classes in voice, movement and text realisation.
In addition, the school will offer intensive half-term and holiday classes and evening classes for adults, covering areas such as acting for television and film, and voice training.
Although it is aimed at attracting Asian and other ethnic minority performers, Akram insisted the school will be open to everyone.
“The aim is to make individuals and communities excited about drama as opposed to building walls. It’s not about putting up barriers, it’s about including everyone. But if we don’t start from this point, and be seen to have an Asian and ethnic minority agenda of our own, then those communities won’t be represented,” he said.
Akram said the Central School of Speech and Drama had helped with the initial forming of the academy, by helping to launch market research to discover if there is a need for one specifically targeting Asian and other ethnic minority performers.
He said he now wants to develop relationships with full-time drama schools around the UK, such as Central, in the hope students who attend AAEDA will move on to them and continue their training.
“I want to have relationships with drama schools, because, as hard as drama schools try, there is a shortage of Asian and ethnic minorities applying to them,” he said.
He added that tutors at the academy have all taught at established schools such as RADA and Central, and said: “Asian and ethnic would-be actors now have a dedicated school which is solely geared to servicing both their and the industry’s needs.”