One Year On: Grenfell – Home Sweet Home

To commemorate those that lost their lives and also support the bereaved families we are putting on an event to remember Grenfell – One Year On.

Called simply – Home Sweet Home – it’s an evening of poetry and Art that highlights the importance a safe and secure home makes to all of our well-beings.

Please Spread the word and join us this Sunday 10th June 6pm at the UthinkPDP Art Centre, Riverside Building in Hammersmith W6 9WA as part of the Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Fest.

Please help us by donating to our Fund. We would like to bring the healing gift of Art and Poetry to the affected Communities.

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Hanwell Library Plays host to Ipad Storytelling Taster Group

Ealing Libraries again play host to storytelling group Showpatrol who are based at the Hanwell Workary. Cherington Road. Founder and Ealing Filmmaker Michelle Brooks takes wannabee filmmakers through the basics of using apps to tell stories and build literacy in children in a one off 2 hour session before the two day Filmmaking Classes hosted regularly in Ealing and Hammersmith.

She said, “It’s so important to encourage creativity in the young and the Film Industry in the UK desperately needs more talent so why not start them young.”

For more details and to book you place contact Hanwell Library direct.

Mobile Movie Magic – Digital Filmmaking (West London Details below)

2 Hour Taster Course Overview –  Character and storytelling using 3 Easy Apps, Iphone and Ipads to build literacy and communication skills.

Easter Break Storytelling Session Bookable via Hanwell Library only

Twitter: @ShowpatrolUK Facebook: Like


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Hanwell Library Hosts Half Term Taster Filmmaking Classes

Ealing Libraries at Hanwell and West London Production Company Showpatrol are helping Ealing Youngsters get ahead in the competitive world of Film and TV by running taster Filmmaking Classes over the Half term.

TV and Media Professionals Michelle Brooks and Nicola Gaughan boast twenty year careers in their Industry and are on hand to give an insight into this highly lucrative trade. Michelle’s clients include BBC, Red Bee Media and more recently Twitter UK whilst Nicola’s client’s include Hasbro and Disney.

The first taster class is on the Tuesday 13th February from 10-1pm with a follow up of two days courses at OpenEaling in the Orchard Cafe in West Ealing.

When asked why courses of this nature were important Showpatrol Founder Michelle explained, “The UK Film and TV Industries are very competitive however there is a real shortfall in craft skills like camerawork, lighting, sound and script supervision. If we can showcase how accessible it is to develop these skills early on then it will really give young people a head start when they are trying to get work in the field.”

Nicola added, “Employers are not just looking for good grades at University or College, they are looking for experience, creativity and making something from nothing and that is where this course fits right in.”

If you think you know someone who would benefit from this course click the link here for more details and to book their place. Tickets are limited so hurry to avoid disappointment.

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Alexandra the Queen (of Strictly 2017) and Why I’m Backing her this Weekend!

Standing Up for the Queen  (Why this Weekend I’m backing Alexandra!)

Back in 2010 I wrote Produced and Directed a show called “Brides and Prejudice” about Single Black Women and the perceptions of them in the media.  The show aired on a Black Entertainment Channel on Sky called OH TV, Sky 199 .

In the trailer a single Black woman is soul searching her reasons for not finding a man and heard to ask “Am I too romantic?, “ Am I too sexy?… “ Am I too… Independent?” The woman is shown “left on the shelf”  seemingly she is to blame for her plight as being un-loveable and unwanted.

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

Brides & Prejudice (Promo) from Andrew Webber | Film Editor | PD on Vimeo.

“Brides and Prejudice” tackled the topic of diversity and relationships and aired in 2010. Back then we were used to not seeing many examples of black women on TV and it was no surprise that when we saw them they were usually boxed into stereotypes.

Jane Austen once wrote, “It is a truth universally acknowledge that a man of good fortune must surely be in want of a wife.” However it is also a universally acknowledged truth that black women of good looks, good talent and in the public eye must be seen to be humble and know their place. It soon became clear to me that this old fashioned way of thinking had not entirely gone away and had reared it’s ugly head on BBC TV.

Fastforward seven years on from that show and I’m watching the talented, vivacious and athletic X-Factor Winner, Alexandra Burke, killing it again with a fantastic Charleston routine with her partner Gorka Marquez on the BBC 1 primetime Juggernaut Strictly Come Dancing.



Alexandra Burke’s performance to “Supercalifragilistic” was exactly that. Fast footwork, kicks, flips, endless energy and even Judge Revel-Horwood had to admit, “Your swivels are even better than Gorker’s dahling”!  And yet there she was, for the second week running, down in the Dance Off!

As a black woman myself I have long been brought up with the knowledge that I had to be ten times as good as the next person to get ahead – in business, in school, in life. However to see someone as clearly talented and high profile as Alexandra in that same position in 2017 ironically in a “reality” TV show really made me think.

Wasn’t this the same hideously uneven playing field again. Was she too sexy? Too emotional, too good too soon?

Previously Alexandra had slayed the opposition with her detailed and steamy Salsa and that fantastic and feel good Jive as early as week 4. Still online voices felt the need to draw attention to the fact that she cried when praised or given high scores as if she should be arrogant and “As if she doesn’t know she’s good? Why should she? She’s never danced Ballroom or Latin before and never been on the show before.

When she started receiving 10s, that too was seen as a problem. “Couldn’t she just make a mistake and get booted out?” One Twitter troll lamented!

So did Alexandra peak too soon,  or  is there a problem with people’s expectations of women, in particular black women, in the Media? Should we all just play nice and quietly, not enjoy ourselves too much, or be too loud or too confident?

Alexandra’s routines have been marked down on several occasions and she is doing more then many of her peers but maybe her journey on Strictly was always destined to beat the same path as so many other black contestants on reality TV?

Alexandra Burke Jive: Proud Mary


For someone who has only recently lost her mother Alexandra Burke’s Jive performance is even more remarkable. How is she able to do that, I wonder? I suppose she can only be channeling her grief and energy into the dance in a bid to distract herself from the realities of her sad loss.

And yet some people in the media, online and even it seems on the set of Strictly itself seem keen to highlight Alexandra’s flaws as being “emotional” in an attempt to drag her down further and perhaps get more attention for themselves online.

“Why is she always crying?” they ask. “How can she possibly not believe how good she is?” “Her tears are fake.” She’s not wiping anything away.”  These nasty comments say more about the people trolling the star then Burke herself and it seems that even the press with their bully boy tactics are wading in.

“Stories” resurface about comments she made seven years ago on TV and supposed  backstage feuds appear to paint her as the proverbial, “black bitch.” The only problem being no one including her colleagues and dance partner want to back up those stories. The people leaking the “headline news” are nowhere to be seen, but sadly mud sticks.

Is becoming upset or having a “meltdown” when you’re in the bottom two again, really “news”? As a creative I don’t believe it is. Many creative people are hardworking, perfectionists and fiery! They want to do well and they care. Thank God for those people who do push boundaries and who DO NOT SETTLE! Thank God Alexandra cares enough to work hard and treat us to these great performances week after week.

When you add all Alexandra’s achievements to the fact that no one else on the show has had to endure this level of criticism if really makes me question how enlightened people really are towards race and talent in the entertainment industry. This Campaign of spite has been really remarkable for a wholesome show like “Strictly”.

Musical Advantage

Alexandra “haters” cite the fact that Alexandra Burke has “appeared in musicals” and yet they fail to mention that Sister Act and The Bodyguard did not feature Latin or Ballroom in either. In addition to this the actor Joe McFadden has previously appeared in Rent and Chitty Chitty Bang and we’re supposed to simply marvel at his unbelievable performance, skill and improvement.  Molly King lovely though she is, is from girl band The Saturdays and yet we never hear how much extra experience she has in her day job.  Instead we are fed the “she’s done three hundred hours of rehearsal” line. Personally, I believe all the dancers in the Semi-Final are committed and telling me how many hours you rehearsed one dance just makes me how you will keep that up when required to do two or even three dances in the final! Debbie McGee at 59 is a fine example of fitness and flexibility and even though troll persist in reminding whoever will listen about her ballet training but even that pales into insignificance when compared to what Alexandra has been exposed to.

People say “we just don’t warm to her,” and they “just can’t put their finger on why?” Well I have a few ideas why and I’d suggest it’s mainly down to a mixture of the stories circulated and their own limiting beliefs about what is natural and unnatural behaviour in women.  People state they want “someone likeable” to win. What makes someone likeable? Can’t passion, dedication and talent be likeable? Or do we really want another Chris Hollinsworth (lovely but average) Strictly Winner?

Fake or Real?

Alexandra’s “haters” say she is “fake” for expressing emotion when she has only recently lost her mother and also when everything you have ever seen of Alexandra – including her win on X-Factor -shows her to be an emotional girl. It seems to me that black women are not supposed to show emotion. Unless of course it’s emotion deemed acceptable to certain members of the British public. We’re allowed to be comical and bubbly like the adorable Chizzy Akodulu but not so confident that we inspire envy amongst others and actually might want to win.

As both a feminist and a lover of dance, I am tired of seeing a talented woman, quick to pick up routines clearly incredibly passionate about dance being boxed in and vilified for it. There’s nothing wrong with caring, wearing your heart on your sleeve and being good at what you do.

Also when it comes to emotion why should she tone it down? Is it seriously all about “stiff upper lip”? And if so why? Black culture is not known for playing small and why should Alexandra have to change her behaviour? How does that serve the show or even Diversity which the BBC professes to care so much about? With Chizzy Akodulu, Aston Merrygold, and Oti Mabuse also out of the picture will Alexandra now be under pressure to hide her real emotions and if so is this not MORE fake then her just being her natural self?

The Strictly experience will be over in two weeks and all this drama will just be a memory. So called newspapers like “The Sun” and the “Daily Mail” who reported Alexandra’s “furious” arguments with her dance partner Gorka Markez (who recently went on record as saying how much “fun” they have together during rehearsals and how she “makes his life easy”) will be clamouring for interviews and then we’ll see who’s fake and who’s real. I for one hopes she tells them where to go.

Having looked at Alexandra and Gorka’s performances thus far it’s clear to me that a Strictly final would not be worth watching without Alexandra and Gorka in it. They have brought fire and excitement to this year’s show and we they audience would be the poorer without it.

Yes Alexandra Burke is a great dancer and makes it LOOK effortless and natural but does that mean that it IS effortless or that she did not work hard to make it look so, and therefore should NOT win the show? Strictly cannot have an entire show of people who lack musicality and struggle to improve until Semi Final week. I for one wouldn’t still be watching if that were the case and the BBC wouldn’t have a series.  Reality TV needs a good mix for it to be watchable TV.

Having said that, Oti Mabuse choreographed and danced some amazing routines with her partner Danny Mac in Strictly 2016.  By rights they should have definitely walked off with the title and yet they were cruelly pipped at the post by a late bloomer.

So this Saturday, will you sit back and watch another travesty happen again? I know what I’ll be doing. Standing up for the Queen!

Michelle Brooks is a Writer, Producer and Founder of Production Company @ShowpatrolUK She has featured in the TV Documentaries “Brides and Prejudice”, “Why Should I Get Married?” and Produced the TV Series “Black Women in the Media” which received 9.2 million views when it streamed online.

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Five Hidden Career Lessons in Hidden Figures

The new Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures is a true story about three African American women who worked as “human computers” at the NASA Research Center in Langley, Va. in the early ‘60s: programmer Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), math genius Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) and engineer Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). At its core, the film is a powerful reminder of the destructive consequences of discrimination. But it also holds important career lessons about how to manage and excel at work, even under challenging circumstances.

Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer attend the ‘Hidden Figures’ New York Special Screening on December 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Set in the Jim Crow South, the women are subjected to constant racial and gender discrimination. They are denied promotions, forced to use separate, distant bathrooms and are expected to never complain. But if not for the critical contributions of these three, NASA might never have successfully sent John Glenn into orbit.

Here are five key career lessons I gleaned from the film and ones I think could help women and men at work:

1. Be indispensable. At the start of Hidden Figures, the three women are assigned to a larger group of “human calculators” who toil away anonymously in a back room, far away from the more important male scientists. But thanks to their hard work, smarts, dogged determination and prowess, each of the women eventually finds her way to a promotion.

Rather than allow the negativity to defeat them, however, the women do what they can to lift themselves up: they work hard, bond together and find significant ways to contribute that others can’t ignore.

The takeaway: Fortunately, few of us will ever face such extreme conditions at work. But no matter what frustrations you do face, you’ll be happier when you focus on your work, your attitude and your professionalism. As Spencer explained to People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle in an interview about the film, “No matter what is going on, you have power.”

3. Cultivate a strong support group. One of the more uplifting themes in Hidden Figures is the power of sisterhood. The women depend upon each other for advice, laughter, support and a safe haven from the daily stresses of their lives and workplace.

The takeaway: As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in this essay, “Everyone needs this kind of connection. We need people who encourage us, believe in us, support us, and remind us that we are not alone. For women, this kind of support can be especially important — because, too often, the world tells women what we can’t do.”

4. Look for the greater meaning in your work. Despite all the injustices at their jobs, the women in the film clearly take tremendous pride from their association with NASA. One of my favorite scenes is when Glenn requests that Johnson be the one to double-check NASA’s calculations before the final approval for his lift-off. (The look of surprise on Henson’s face when Glenn asks for her input is priceless). Knowing that her work is vital to the outcome of such an important national mission clearly sustains Johnson, even though her colleagues are shamefully reticent to acknowledge her efforts.

The takeaway: Admittedly, it’s unlikely that you’ll find an employer with a mission quite as grand as NASA. But, meaning can be derived in any number of ways — by having a positive impact on customers; contributing to your community or by offering a much-needed product or service. When you connect with meaning at work, it inspires you to work harder. And that, in turn, leads to better outcomes for you and your employer.

5. Never leave a high-stakes career moment to chance. In one of the most riveting scenes of Hidden Figures, Jackson petitions the Virginia State Court for the right to enroll in engineering classes at the local segregated high school. She makes an impassioned plea to the judge for his help making her the first female engineer at NASA, reminding him that he was the first in his family to join the Armed Forces and to attend college.

“Your Honor,” Jackson says, “Out of all the cases you’re going to hear today, which one is going to matter one hundred years from now? Which one is going to make you the first?”

The judge is clearly swayed by Jackson’s personal appeal and, to the amazement of everyone (including himself), agrees to her request — with the caveat that she only attend night classes.

The takeaway: There are high-stakes moments in every career — job interviews, performance reviews, making important presentations — when careful preparation is a must. So the next time you have a critical career moment like this, do your homework, refine your message and practice relentlessly before making your pitch.

Who knows? Done well, it just might lead to your own Oscar-worthy performance.

Contributor: Nancy Collamer, Contributor, Forbes Online

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