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Industry Insights: Natalie Edwards

Why do you think you are a Producer and ‘Actorpreneur?

Because as well as being a trained actor and producer, acting in TV, Film and Theatre. I use all my personal skills to create opportunities for myself and other people in the creative sector. It’s not enough to be highly educated in your artistic talent or extremely innovative creatively; you need to have an entrepreneurial spirit for longevity in the film industry, in front of the camera and behind.

If forced to give one tip to new people coming through what would it be?

If you have decided to work in the film or creative sector especially film, my tip is being persistent, consistent and most of all have perseverance, success is simply good habits done over a period of time. If you keep at it you will eventually get there.

Tell us about where you come from and how it filters into your work?

I come from a small leafy suburb on the outskirts of Birmingham; there were no actors or anyone in the creative sector around me when I began acting it was the only subject that I was passionate about and would hold my focus. However, I was told by many teachers that my regional accent would hinder my chances of working in the creative industry primarily as an actor, these comments left a bitter taste in my mouth and made me think why is there this perceived adverse reaction about Birmingham and other northern regions. In my opinion, I believe, its rooted in classism, prejudice and ignorance. Birmingham is not perfect like every other major city in the world, but I am proud of where I am from, and there are so many fantastic stories to be told and an abundance of creative talent in the West Midland region. I guess I like to fight for the underdog, it’s an awful feeling being overlooked or marginalized, that’s why I am so passionate about my current writing project competition Enter.stage.Write in the fight for regional inclusivity.

Tell us about the latest film / exhibition / book / public figure / article to have inspired you?

This is going to sound cliché, but the most inspiring film I just watched was “Black Panther.’ Not just because the movie had an incredibly diverse cast of women, and it was a Marvel, but I feel that there are so many details in this film. Ryan Cogler left no stone unturned; there were so many messages within the messages, not one single scripted word or camera shot was wasted. I could watch it again and find something different that I missed in the first viewing.  I felt the story, and the script along with the Afrocentric futuristic and sci-fi action scenes were well balanced and unique, and the theme of a race was handled dignifiedly. It was refreshing as I think people are bored of seeing issue based movies where people of color are victimized, well I am anyway. Also, it smashed the myth that black casted films do not sell; Hopefully this will open the door for more inclusive and diverse stories because it was fantastic and I believe viewers just want good storytelling and to be entertained whether lead is female or a person of color I don’t think it is the choosing factor in the majority film goers.

What frustrates you about what you do?

What frustrates me the most about being in the film industry, is the uncertainty. As an Actor or Producer. Sometimes moving forward in the right direction is out of your hands, whether it’s a casting director or a someone with the power to fund your film, it feels like you are continually being ‘held by the balls’ or shall I say vagina! I just can’t live with people having so much power over me.

How do you overcome this?

I decided to create a platform and production company called Transition Stage Company, creating opportunities for myself and others, while working as a freelance actor or producer. Furthermore, we live in the age of disruption; where there are so many advances in tech, I am currently reading up on how using block-chain and cryptocurrency within film distribution is helpful for transparency of money. It’s always important to know your industry and never stop learning and growing, because that’s how you can change things for the better.

Do you believe in the ‘female gaze’ and what does that mean to you?

The ‘Female gaze’ to me it just is merely another point of view, another experience and those stories and experiences need to be shared and given a platform equally.

Are you hopeful about equality in film, and wider society? Please tell us why.

This world run by capitalism and the focus is money and control. Unfortunately, most people or hierarchic systems don’t want to change unless it benefits them.  The only way we can have equality and diversity in film and broader society is through disruption of industries. For instance, in the film and TV industry platforms like Netflix and Amazon, YouTube creating TV shows with female directors and inclusive, diverse stories, with so many episodic shows and movies at hand instantly and conveniently. I believe people are becoming bored with seeing the same gaze over and over again, and this is reflecting in the success of studio movies. I am hopeful, and I believe things are changing because more diverse stories and female directors are creating fantastic TV and films and they are incredibly successful, for instance, Shonda Rhimes TV shows and movies such as ‘Get Out.’ They sell, and the audience eats it up, you just can’t ignore it.

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