Floella Benjamin, OBE

Autobiographical sketch:

I was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, in a a small town called Pointe-a-Pierre in 1949. My first memory of that wonderful sun drenched Caribbean island was when I was three years old and I treasure those memories. I came to Britain in 1960 and experienced a huge culture shock because I expected everyone to treat me kindly and with respect, but Britain was cold, unwelcoming, violent and bleak. I had to learn to live in two cultures fast if I was going to survive.

My beautiful mother told all six of her children each day before we went to school that education was our passport to life and to go to school and learn everything the teachers told us. I did just that and loved my time at school because my mum set us that goal!

I always wanted to be a teacher but my parents couldn’t afford to keep me on to do my A Levels so I had to leave school at sixteen. I worked in a bank for three years whilst doing my A Levels at night school, I thought I could be Britain’s first black woman bank manager but I soon realised it was an impossible dream in those days. So I auditioned to go on a national tour of a hit musical. I hadn’t been to drama school so I got the bank to keep my job for me just in case I didn’t like being on stage.

Read all of Floella’s fascinating backgroud.

Credits:

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Drama COMPANY PART DIRECTED BY

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WITHIN THESE WALLS (5 episodes) LWT BARBRA BILL BAIN
CROWN COURT GRANADA JENNY MARSH STEPHEN BUTCHER
DOCTOR ON THE GO LWT NURSE OJIMA STUART ALLEN
SEND IN THE GIRLS GRANADA MELODY ALLAN GRINT
ANANSI (World History Series) ILEA TV JUMBO
ANGELS BBC NURSE YALLOP FIONA CUMMING
MIXED BLESSINGS LWT KAREN DEREK GOODWIN
KIDS (LAURIE) LWT ELLA BUCKLEY BRIAN FARNHAM
WATERLOO SUNSET BBC MARIE LOUISE RICHARD EYRE
THE LADIES BBC CAROL STEEL JAMES O’BRIEN
HOLE IN BABYLON BBC NORMA HORACE OVE
ANGELS (episodes 6,7,8) BBC MARIGOLD LEVATT BICKFORD
THE GENTLE TOUCH LWT GLORIA TONY WHARMBY
MAYBURY (episodes 2&3) BBC KAYREEN RICHARD STROUD
BERGERAC BBC JUNIPER MARTYN FRIEND
STRANGERS GRANADA ROSIE BILL BRAYNE
COMING TO ENGLAND BBC TEACHER KEITH TAYLOR
LINE OF BEAUTY BBC MRS CHARLES SAUL DIBB
RUN FAT BOY RUN MATERIAL ENTERTAINMENT LIBBY’S MUM DAVID SCHWIMMER
RENDITION CIA AGENT GAVIN HOOD
SARAH JANE ADVENTURES SERIES 1 BBC PROF RIVERS CHARLES MARTIN
SARAH JANE ADVENTURES SERIES 2 BBC PROF RIVERS MICHAEL KERRIGAN

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Films

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I DON’T WANT TO BE BORN (WITH JOAN COLLINS) NURSE
BLACK JOY WEST ONE FILMS MIRIAM ANTHONY SIMMONDS

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West End Theatre

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HAIR SHAFTESBURY THEATRE DAVID TOGURI
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR PALACE THEATRE JIM SHARMAN
THE BLACK MIKADO CAMBRIDGE THEATRE BRAHAM MURRAY
THE HUSBAND IN LAW COMEDY THEATRE PATRICK GARLAND

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Pantomime

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PUSS IN BOOTS – STARRING AS PUSS CAMBERLEY CHRISTMAS 1985/86
ALADDIN – STARRING AS ALADDIN STEVENAGE CHRISTMAS 1986/87
ALADDIN – STARRING AS ALADDIN WEYMOUTH CHRISTMAS 1989/90
ALADDIN – STARRING AS ALADDIN SWINDON CHRISTMAS 1990/91
PETER PAN – STARRING AS TIGER LILLY/LIZA EPSOM CHRISTMAS 1994/95
BABES IN THE WOOD- STARRING AS ROBIN HOOD HASTINGS CHRISTMAS 1994/95

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Guest and Celebrity Appearances

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COMIC RELIEF I’VE GOT A SECRET
STAR TURN ALL STAR RECORD BREAKERS
GIVE US A CLUE ALL STAR RECORD BREAKERS XMAS SHOWS
SQUARE ONE PUNCHLINES
ON SAFARI BLANKETY BLANK
VINTAGE QUIZ PAUL DANIELS MAGIC SHOW
IT’S A KNOCKOUT CHRISTMAS PARADE (PRESENTER)
CRACKERJACK RAILWAY CARRIAGES
HERE AND NOW ALADDIN (BBC TV XMAS PANTO)
SATURDAY SUPERSTORE TV-AM WIDE AWAKE CLUB
THE ZODIAC GAME MONKEY BUSINESS 13 eps (TEAM CAPTAIN)
WHERE IN THE WORLD CHILDREN’S ROYAL VARIETY SHOW
BBC BREAKFAST TIME CELEBRITY SQUARES
FAMILY FORTUNES BLUE PETER
PLAYDAYS YOU BET
FULL SWING BIG BREAK (CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 96/97)

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Regular Presenter Channel Comments

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PLAYSCHOOL BBC A LEGEND
WHAT’S INSIDE BBC NOW IN ITS 4TH RUN
FAST FORWARD BBC
PLAYAWAY BBC 3 SERIES, ALSO A LEGEND
SWITCH ON TO ENGLISH BBC
HOW DARE YOU TYNE TEES
ABOUT BOOKS THAMES
LAY ON FIVE BBC WRITTEN BY FLOELLA
FLO’S FROLICS BBC BREAKFAST TIME
BLACK LONDONERS RADIO LONDON
DAYTIME LIVE BBC PEBBLE MILL 2 SERIES 56 SHOWS
A HOUSEFUL OF PLANTS CHANNEL 4 2 SERIES – TOP RATINGS
TREE HOUSE CHANNEL 4 OWN PRODUCTION, 13 SHOWS
THE LORD MAYOR’S SHOW BBC 1985/6/7
PLAYABOUT BSkyB OWN PRODUCTION 131 SHOWS
HULLABALLOO CHANNEL 4 OWN PRODUCTION 26 SHOWS
Sold to 28 countries and was winner of
‘PARENTS CHOICE BEST VIDEO’ – USA
JAMBOREE ITV 4 SERIES OWN PRODUCTON 52 SHOWS
MAMMA MIRABELLE’S HOME MOVIES CBEEBIES 52 PART ANIMATION SERIES
HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE CBEEBIES RADIO 7 (2007) OWN PRODUCTION 42 SHOWS
FLOELLA’S STORY SACK CBEEBIES RADIO 7 (2008) OWN PRODUCTION 21 SHOWS

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Classical Theatre Appearances with

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THE NORTHERN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
THE EAST OF ENGLAND ORCHESTRA
THE WELSH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
THE ULSTER ORCHESTRA
THE DULWICH COLLEGE ORCHESTRA
SCOTTISH OPERA ORCHESTRA

Corinne Bailey Rae

In the three years since she shot to prominence with one of the most successful debut albums of all time, Corinne Bailey Rae has been fêted around the world with critical acclaim and public affection. Hits such as ‘Like A Star’ and ‘Put Your Records On’ helped propel her eponymous album to over 4 million sales and carved her a place in history becoming the first ever-UK artist to debut in the Billboard Top 20, leading the way for the rise of a whole new generation of British female artists to follow.

Her many UK industry awards from the likes of Q, Mojo and MOBO plus her multiple Brit, Ivor Novello and Grammy nominations were followed by her recent Grammy Awards for her work with Herbie Hancock (2008) and Al Green (2009) – further acknowledgment of her position as a shining new light in music. As Stevie Wonder was drawn to say, “As long as I hear songs and voices by new artists like Corinne I know the future of music is safe.”

During this time Corinne has seen many other things beyond record sales, world tours, winning awards and collaborations with some of the biggest names in music. Like many other artists, she has tried also to use her fame in small ways to help establish a glimmer of hope in the world of others less advantaged than herself. Alongside her work as an Ambassador for the Nelson Mandela 46664 charity, Corinne has become a Friend of Children Of Peace, an ambassador for CORD, and played a part in the inaugural Peace One Day and Live Earth concerts.

Read her full bio.

Awards and Nominations:

2006 Nominated BET Awards BET J Cool Like Dat Award General
Nominated MTV Europe Music Awards Best UK & Irelnad Act General
Nominated MTV Woodie Awards International Woodie (Favorite International Artist) General
Nominated UK Festival Music Awards Best Urban Act General
Nominated Premios 40 Principales Mejor Artista Nuevo Internacional General
Nominated MOBO Awards Best Song Put Your Records On
Won Best UK Female General
Won Best UK Newcomer General
Won MOJO Awards Best New Act General
Won Q Awards Best New Act General
2007 Nominated Grammy Awards Best New Artist General
Nominated Record of the Year Put Your Records On
Nominated Song of the Year
Nominated BET Awards Best New Artist General
Nominated Best Female R&B Artist General
Nominated BRIT Award Best British Single Put Your Records On
Nominated British Female Artist General
Nominated British Breakthroug Act General
Nominated Teen Choice Awards Best Female Breakthrough Artist General
Nominated ECHO Awards International Newcomer of the Year General
Nominated Ivor Novello Awards PRS Most Performed Work General
Nominated MOBO Awards Best UK Female General
Nominated Image Awards Outstanding Album Corinne Bailey Rae
Nominated Outstanding Female Artist General
Won Outstanding New Artist General
Won Music Week Awards International Marketing Campaign of the Year General
Won European Border Breakers Awards United Kingdom General
2008 Nominated Grammy Awards Song of the Year Like a Star
Won ASCAP Awards Song of the Year Put Your Record On
Nominated Urban Music Awards Best Neo Soul Act General
Won BMI Pop Awards Song of the Year Put Your Record On

Listen to an interview with Corinne.

Petra Letang – A Funny Black Women on the Edge

petra-letangPetra Letang was born in London and is a British-Dominican actress, probably best known for her role as Naomi Julien in the BBC soap opera EastEnders.

Letang grew up in East London, and she attended the Anna Scher Theatre school in Islington, London. She has played Donna Lewis in the five soap Family Affairs in 1999, and the character Pauline in the BBC2 drama Babyfather in 2002. Other television credits have included Jonathan Creek (2004); The Bill (2005) and The Last Detective (2005). She also appeared in the British film Wondrous Oblivion in 2003.

In 2005 she was cast as Naomi Julien—the lesbian lover of Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy)—in BBC’s EastEnders. She left the role in 2007, reportedly because scriptwriters had “run out of ideas for her.” Prior to this, Letang had gone public with her fears that her character would be axed following a “bad public reaction” to the lesbian storyline which saw Naomi break up the marriage of Sonia and Martin Fowler (James Alexandrou).

Letang went on to join the cast of Angie Le Mar’s successful play, Funny Black Women On the Edge. It played at the Hackney Empire, East London in the Spring of 2007.

In March 2007, Letang was one of several television stars who took part in Searchlight magazine’s “Hope Not Hate bus” campaign with the Daily Mirror, which was aimed at spreading a message of goodwill in the build-up to the local elections in May 2007. Letang commented:”This campaign is very close to my heart. We have to make a difference for the young people coming up.”

Source

Tiana Benjamin – On the big and small screen

Tiana Opium Benjamin is an English actress most notable for appearing in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire and for playing Chelsea Fox in the long running popular BBC soap opera EastEnders.

Benjamin was born in Enfield, North London living and is of Sierra Leonean descent. She had a major role in the 2007 21st Century Fox film Wishbaby.

Before appearing in both Harry Potter and EastEnders she had a number of other high profile acting roles. She appeared in two episodes of Dalziel and Pascoe in early 2006 and in 2004 she appeared in The Bill, she auditioned for the role of Darlene Cake in Bad Girls but did not get the role. In 2002, Benjamin appeared as an extra on the video for Lovin’ Is Easy by Hear’say.

She competed in the National Lottery: Big 7 event in 2007 and sang in the 2007 and 2008 Children in Need charity appeal. She recently won the 2008 Screen Nation Award for ‘Favourite Female TV Star’ and was nominated alongside Leona Lewis, Alesha Dixon and Miquita Oliver the awards recognise the best television stars from the British black community. She was nominated for ‘Sexiest Female’ at the 2008 British Soap Awards and is again at the 2009 awards.

Belinda Owusu – Studying acting and working in the business

Belinda Ruth Owusu is a British actress of Ghanaian and English descent, who rose to prominence in 2006, aged 17, when she won the role of Libby Fox in BBC’s EastEnders.

She became a student at the Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School school, which opened in Hackney in 2001. She won sponsorship for a place at the school, which helped her to get a role in the BBC soap EastEnders, in 2006. She has played Libby Fox in EastEnders since May 22, 2006. Prior to getting this role, she had appeared in a pizza advert and had a short part in a Catherine Tate sketch in Comic Relief 2005.

Owusu has also been a contestant in an EastEnders special of The Weakest Link, in 2008. She was the fourth one voted off.

Nina Toussaint-White – Acting in London

Nina Toussaint-White is an English actress best known for her role as Syd Chambers in the BBC One soap opera EastEnders.

Toussaint-White trained at the Italia Conti Academy on the BA Acting course in Clapham before making her television debut in an episode of Casualty in 2007, which was closely followed by an episode of The Bill, released in 2008. She was soon picked up by EastEnders bosses for the part of dog-lover Syd, a new love interest for Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements), making her first screen appearance on 6 February 2009. She has also appeared as a guest character in an episode of Primeval.

Credits:
2008, Television, Syd, Eastenders (Regular), BBC, Various
2008, Television, Melanie, Primeval, ITV, Tony Mitchell
2008, Television, Janice Pool, The Bill, ITV, Olivia Lichtenstein
2007, Television, Bunmi, Casualty “Core Values”, BBC, Robbie Del Maestro
2007, Film, Mirtha, Italia Conti Academy, Mark Street
2007, Stage, Woman and Child, The Possibilites, Italia Conti Academy, Janice Dunn
2006, Radio, Natasha, Three Sisters, Italia Conti Academy
2006, Stage, Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Italia Conti Academy, Chris Leaver
2006, Stage, Lin, Cloud Nine, Italia Conti Academy, Sue Colgrave
2006, Stage, Paula, The Positive Hour, Italia Conti Academy, Alice Bartlett
2006, Stage, Josephine, Under Their Influence, Italia Conti Academy, Ben Thomas
2005, Stage, Mother, The Bloody Chamber, Italia Conti Academy, Sarah Fahie

Diane Parish – The first Black actor in the UK to win a major Royal Television Society Award

Parish: ““All black actors want to do is what everyone else does, be a part of telling stories truthfully and representing characters truthfully.” “.Source

Diane Parish is a British actress who was born to Caribbean parents. Her father is from Dominica and her mother is from Montserrat. She graduated from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and worked mainly in theatre, using the received pronunciation she was taught at RADA to extend her repertoire of Shakespeare. She later received some minor television roles including Beth Taylor alongside Ian McShane in Lovejoy, and Lola Christie, girlfriend of Mick McFarlane, the manager of the EastEnders night cafe, in 1998.

Parish has also appeared in television dramas including The Bill and its spin-off M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team, playing DC Eva Sharpe. Before The Bill she starred in Babyfather, for which she received the Royal Television Society’s best actress award in 2001making her the first black actor to win a major RTS award.

Parish returned to EastEnders in May 2006 but this time playing regular character Denise Fox.

Parish: “I’m getting sick of seeing my black contemporaries getting one scene every 15 – there’s no need for it any more, and there’s no need to be afraid of speaking up about it”. Source

Filmography
EastEnders – Denise Fox (2006—)
M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team – DC Eva Sharpe (2005)
The Bill – DC Eva Sharpe (2002–04)
Babyfather – Lesley Bailey (2001–02)
Clocking Off – Sylvia Robinson (2000–02)
Real Women – Rachel (1998)
Picking up the Pieces – Lisa Gee (1998)
EastEnders – Lola Christie (1998)
Holding On – Janet (1997)
Indian Summer – Millie (1996)
The Final Passage – Milkie (1996)
Lovejoy – Beth Taylor (1993–94)