Women of the Lens Film Festival

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News  I  Commentary

Women Of The Lens returns for 2022

Stay close for updates about our upcoming events for 2022.


Rachel Zegler is Snow White

UK actors and the cost

of leaving

UKActor tweet

Ahhh…the perennial challenge for British Black actors; to stay or leave…the UK that is.

Daniel Kaluuya came away with an Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for his part in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ in April of this year. The chances that he’d have been offered roles in the UK that would have taken him on a pathway to this climatic event are pretty slim.

What this tweet from @lailatweetzx hints at is that for many Black UK actors, their career trajectory falls short and any effort to propel themselves to fulfilment must include leaving UK shores for, more often than not, the USA. The move many Black UK actors make to then take up roles in Hollywood have become gristle for a few arguments about Brits taking on African American roles that should be for African American actors…so the argument goes.

A lot of this topic ties into an earlier piece of ‘news’ about the BBC’s Miranda Wayland who chastised the television detective series ‘Luther’ for being inauthentic. Wayland, the new ‘diversity’ head-honcho lamented that the character had no ‘roots’ of any kind, he didn’t eat Caribbean food (hmmm…do we know if ‘Luther’ is of Caribbean extraction?), nor did he have any Black friends.

The series creator, Neil Cross admitted that ‘Luther’ was not written as a Black man and that to maintain integrity, Cross couldn’t have written about that part of the character.

Erm…couldn’t Black writers have been hired to do the job? Why didn’t anyone on the ‘Luther’ production think to look at recruiting Black and/or people of colour you know, for authenticity?  

Decisions, decisions. Should they stay or should they go?

Daniel Kaluuya Oscar Winner

Daniel Kaluuya, 2021 winner of the Academy Award for ‘Best Actor In A Supporting Role’

(image credit: @quillemons for Vanity Fair Magazine)

Afro hair care is being recognised in film, television and theatrical industries

It’s good to see the industry, albeit slowly, recognising the need for training and opportunity in the area of the care, maintenance and styling of afro hair on set. 

Two platforms present such schemes; 1) ScreenSkills are offering a hair and make-up transfer programme in an introduction to film and tv and they’re specifically seeking artists from Black and ethnic backgrounds. More details here

In theatre-land, Manchester Royal Exchange is currently in the process of producing educative videos about the care of afro hair and the making of wigs for peformers with afro hair and multi-textured hair. More details here.


Having said all of that about afro hair care on UK sets, in the USA the dilemma still continues as Euphoria actress Storm Reid explains how difficult it can sometimes be when she’s faced with those who don’t know how to style and care for her hair whilst she’s at work. Storm says in People Magazine; “…in a way, it feels dehumanising…when it’s time for your hair to look nice and there’s nobody on set to be albe to help you achieve that…” Reid recently garnered a sponsorship deal with Dark & Lovely.

StormReid Dark&Lovely

Storm Reid (image credit: Dark & Lovely)

Black Film Bulletin revived via the BFI’s Sight and Sound

The influential publication, Black Film Bulletin, founded by Gaylene Gould and Dr June Givanni closed around 20+ years ago. It’s good to know that it’s been brought back to life. Helmed by Jan Asante, curator at Think Cinematic, Mel Hoyes, BFI Industry Inclusion Executive and Dr June Givanni, curator/director of the June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive, the BFB now appears in print format in the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound magazine. 
Black Film Bulletin Logo

Lack of opportunity in UK industry laid bare…again

Game of Thrones

(image: Nick Wall/HBO)

Currently starring in the latest of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Nathalie Emmanuel discussed in an Essence Magazine interview her experiences of working in the British film industry.

We probably know Emmanuel best (so far) for starring in one of the most popular television series of all time – HBO’s Game of Thrones. When discussing the perennial topic of a ‘British invasion’ of UK actors in Hollywood, she explains that…

“…The British industry hasn’t always embraced us…so many Black mixed people like myself have come out to America because the opportunities just weren’t here for us. What’s happened is a lot of talent has been lost to the States…”

There have been a number of British Black actors who’ve begun to shine a little in the UK industry, but it’s like they only get to shine just so. Actors, industry professionals want to work, they want to hone their craft, they want opportunities to develop into the best versions of themselves. But still, Black actors struggle moreso than their equivalent counterparts to reach the top of their profession. 

Contraversially, there is a raft of British Black actors leaving UK shores to reach self actualisation – and the latest to reach the dizzying heights of the profession is Daniel Kaluuya who picked up an Oscar this year. 

As the industry ground shifts once again post lockdown…post the Black Lives Matter movement, galvanised potently after the death of George Floyd, it’s gonna be interesting to see how established institutions make good on the black squares they shared all over social media in 2020. 

Idris Elba as Luther

Idris Elba as ‘Luther’

(image: BBC)

One of the reasons this platform exists is to showcase and show off under represented  women who get limited, if any form of exposure. What Nina Simone experienced should not happen again.

Women Of The Lens 

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You don’t have to be a black woman to engage with us. We look forward to linking with you. Whomever you are, you do have to be invested in making changes that repairs the career chances and images of black women. Simples. 


Our 2020 Festival returns online. We’ll be interviewing industry professionals through Zoom calls. Watch out for the updates on our social media. 

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