Black talent showcase aims to stem flow of minority performers to US
A major new showcase of black, Asian and minority ethnic talent is to launch in London, as part of a bid to prevent UK performers moving to the US for work.
Next Up Talent is the brainchild of performers Kandace Caine and Elizabeth Bisola Alabi and aims to address the inequality they believe has been ignored for too long.
The founders said they were “tired of conversations and decided to take action into their own hands”. As well as representing BAME talent, the showcase will give female performers and writers a platform.
Caine told The Stage she had been working in LA for two years, where all the major TV networks have diversity showcases “and women from every background are included”.
“I noticed that a lot of people who got work on TV and films in the US had gone through that [showcase] avenue. I came back here to the UK and saw so much talent and so many friends trying to push their work, so I thought, ‘Why don’t I just do this?’,” she added.
At a Westminster Media Forum, Caine said she had met with broadcasters, where she raised the idea, and had heard about “actors leaving to go to America”.
“I was one of them, and even now I am thinking I need to get back there as there is so much work out there. But I want to stay here, as my friends and family are here,” she said.
Performers including Paterson Joseph and Kwame Kwei-Armah have previously warned that the UK is losing BAME talent to America because of the lack of opportunities here.
In response, Caine has formed the Next Up Talent showcases, the first of which will be held in London on February 13 at the Raindance Studios in central London.
Performers and writers taking part include Maia Watkins, Davina Cole and Ambreen Razia.
Representatives from television and theatre will be invited, and Caine hopes to hold at least three showcases a year.
“I have called up my talented friends and people who have I have seen working really hard to get themselves out there. There is a gap for this, and I am hoping to fill it,” she said.