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BAFTA award winning Writer/Director Amma Asante made an unusual entry into filmmaking. As a child, Amma attended the Barbara Speake stage school in London, where she trained as a student in dance and drama. She began her career as a child actress, appearing as a regular in the popular British school drama Grange Hill. She fronted the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s and was one of nine Grange Hill children to take it to the Reagan White House. She went on to gain credits in other British television series including Desmond’s (Channel 4) and Birds of a Feather (BBC1).
In her late teens, Amma left the world of acting and eventually made the move to screenwriting with development deals from Chrysalis, Channel 4 and the BBC. Two series of the urban drama Brothers and Sisters followed, which Amma wrote and produced for BBC2.
Amma’s 2004 feature film, A Way of Life, was her directorial debut (she also wrote the screenplay) and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. The film garnered Amma newcomer nominations from the London Film Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard Film Awards, and won Amma 17 international awards for her writing and directing and Newcomer Awards for writing and directing from the BFI London Film Festival and the prestigious South Bank Show Awards, Times Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
At the 2005 BAFTA Film Awards Amma received the BAFTA Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a writer/director in a debut film and on the same night, she scored a double triumph at the 2005 Miami International Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury prize for Best Dramatic Feature in World Cinema and the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) prize for Best Feature Film.
The release of Belle in 2014 marked Amma’s second feature film. She began developing the project after producer Damian Jones sent her a postcard print of a portrait featuring Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Elizabeth Murray. The film tells the story of Belle’s upbringing by her Great Uncle, Lord Mansfield, at Kenwood House in Hampstead. Contracted and commissioned to write and direct the 18th century period drama by Jones through the BFI, four years of writing and research ensued, eventually earning the movie a green light.
Belle – distributed by Icon Films in Australia and Fox Searchlight in the U.S, U.K and rest of the world – opened to phenomenal success across the worldwide, releasing first in the U.S and taking a higher per-screen average than Spiderman 2 in the opening weekend. The film was championed by Oprah Winfrey – who threw a garden party at her home for Amma and the cast, airing across 4 nights on Entertainment Tonight. Meanwhile in the UK, Prince hosted the Belle premiere after-party, in celebration of the film, and performed a 90-minute intimate set for the film’s cast and crew. The movie received widespread acclaim, making Amma one of CNN’s Leading Women of 2014, and earning her nominations for various awards worldwide, including nods at the National Film Awards, UK, alongside NAACP 2014 awards in the U.S In addition, Amma was selected and awarded as an honouree along side Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Ursula Burns, at Gloria Steinem’s, Jane Fonder’s and Robin Morgan’s, 2014 Women’s Media Center Awards in New York.
Starring David Oyelowo (Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl); and directed by Amma Asante (Belle), A UNITED KINGDOM tells the inspiring true story of Seretse Khama, the king of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker that he married in 1948 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments. Seretse and Ruth defied family, apartheid and empire – their love triumphed over every obstacle flung in their path and in so doing they transformed their nation and inspired the world.
Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary notes:
I chose Ronke Lawal to be a Black Women in Europe Blog 10th Anniversary Shero because she is a dynamo. She’s had her own business for 12 years and that is a huge accomplishment in the crowded and competitive PR industry in London. I first blogged about Ronke in October 2011 when she led the Islington Chamber of Commerce. In additional to running her firm she serves on several boards making it a priority to help others. When she learned of our 10th Anniversary she wanted to join the celebration by giving us 5 PR Tips for Small Business Owners. These nuggets are worth their weight in gold.
Thank you Ronke.
Ariatu PR founder Ronke Lawal was born in Hackney, East London of Nigerian parentage. Having graduated with honours from Lancaster University and the University of Richmond Virginia (USA) with a degree in International Business (Economics), she started her own business in 2004. In 2011 Ronke Lawal was honoured to receive a Precious Award for Inspirational Leadership.
In January 2010, Ronke became the Chief Executive of the Islington Chamber of Commerce where she remained until the end of 2012 and became a non-executive director of The Hoxton Apprentice in 2011. She joined the board of Trustees of Voluntary Action Islington in 2012 where she is also a Director of The Voluntary Action Academy and is currently on The Employers Panel for the National Employment Savings Trust. She is a Mentor for The Cherie Blair Foundation and for The Elevation Networks Start Ups Initiative.
Apart from her active and involved business interests, her varied passions outside the business world include food (Founder of Food Blog www.whosfordinner.co.uk), travel, music, literature and most importantly living a life she loves.
Ariatu PR represents a variety of clients in various industries including the entertainment, fashion, lifestyle & beauty, food and luxury goods sectors.
Laura Bazile, Event Planner: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero
Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary notes:
I chose Laura Bazile to be a Black Women in Europe Blog 10th Anniversary Shero because she has parlayed something she loves into a career. She is an entrepreneur event planner who uses her knowledge of different languages and cultures to create memorable experiences for her clients. I first blogged about Laura in September 2010. She’s also a Shero because she manages the Black Women in Europe: For Sisters on Both Sides of the Atlantic private Facebook group. There she maintains the community ethos of “Sisterhood Makes Us Stronger”. To celebrate our 10th Anniversary she is sharing her event planning expertise and created a guide just for us. Download your copy to ensure your next event is a success.
Thank you for everything Laura.
How to plan a successful networking event for Black women in Europe by Laura Bazile
The good news nowadays is there is a wide array of networking events out there to attend. The range of places and types of events give us the opportunity to pick whatever we feel comfortable with. The idea remains to enjoy the whole experience.
The place, the language (to a certain level), and content available are no longer constraints. They actually represent what we, event planners, would build the event experience on.
As a Black women and an entrepreneur, I attend networking events regularly. Whether my purpose is professional (business connections) or private (looking for new hair routines or sourcing a new range of products), in both cases, I would choose the networking event that would offer the highest number of opportunities, especially if I feel I would come back with novelties or things I have been missing for too long.
When it comes to planning a networking event for Black Women in Europe, I would immediately jump to the marketing mix 5+P’s not because it is an lazy option, but rather because it would allow us to focus on quality, think big and be creative.
Your Downloadable Guide
Do you have any other P in mind? What would trigger your decision to attend a Black networking event?
Laura Bazile is an events professional, addicted to traveling, meetings and helping people. She is passionate about digital mix, live arts and design. Laura founded blufreelance, an event marketing boutique.
Women Finalists for The Black British Business Awards
The Ground-breaking elite Awards celebrating world-class black British business leaders has announced the thirty-seven finalists of the Black British Business Awards 2016.
This list recognises the trailblazers and rising stars that represent the very best talent in UK plc. This year’s finalists are an impressive mix of accomplished individuals, ranging from the exceptional musical innovation of Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE, Dragons Den winner Chika Russell, world-class Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Miss Samantha Tross and pioneer Managing Director Carol Lake of JP Morgan.
The winners will be announced during a ceremony at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London on 6 October 2016. Major sponsors for this year include Baker & McKenzie, Barclays, Bloomberg, Microsoft and Thomson Reuters. For further information about the awards visit the official website: http://www.thebbbawards.com/