(Actress Kyla Frye alongside actor boyfriend Marcus Onilude)
The much maligned profile of Black British actresses has been well documented on this blog over the past 18 months and most recently in the London Evening Standard with the forthcoming feel-good flick ‘Fast Girls’ and the supposed significance of Leonora Crichlow playing the lead role in a British film. On such matters is primarily where Twitter comes into its own as a live news editor run by the public. It doesn’t take long before feedback is immediate and corrected (many thanks to @ECForde, film critic for @colourfulradio) for his contribution in the debate at the time. Those of you who joined in via Facebook @buffenterprises thanks you also. Since then, BUFF has gotten into the Twitter spirit by launching its own hashtags – the latest one being #FFFF which stands for Fascinating Friday Film Facts. The 1st tweet in this feed related to @NoelClarke and the fact that in 2008 Adulthood was released in June as was Doghouse (in 2009) and 4321 (in 2010). In June 2012, Noel will feature in 3 films – the aforementioned Fast Girls, Storage 24 & What If. The 2nd tweet in this feed relates to this month’s BUFF blog which – for the first time in its history – is being published on a Friday c/o #FryesFridays. The woman behind FryesFridays just happens to be an actress in her own right who, like many others, are self-publishing their experiences as a blog in their chosen profession – and why not! (Apparently that wasn’t the catchphrase of that other film critic Barry Norman).
Anyway get ready to read this month’s edition of the BUFF Blog – guest written by @kylafrye (and don’t forget to FF @kylafrye @buffenterprises plus any other twitter handles that you can handle – literally… )
Greetings One & All…
Welcome to this special British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) edition of Frye’s Fridays! I am honoured to have been asked by the founder of BUFF, Emmanuel Anyiam-Osigwe, to write a blog entry for the website. Thank you, Emmanuel, for believing in me and allowing me to share my thoughts with fellow BUFF supporters.
For those of you who may not have heard of me, my name is Kyla Frye, I am 24 years old and I am primarily a film actress who has also worked in TV and on stage. I have worked with the likes of Noel Clarke, Ashley Walters and Aml Ameen and have been fortunate enough to be nominated for Best Actress twice – Black Filmmaker Magazine (BFM) in 2008 and Black Entertainment Film Fashion TV and Arts (BEFFTA) in 2011. Last year, I also won the Black Youth Achievement (BYA) Award, for my contribution to the Arts.
I would say I am a born performer as ever since I was a toddler, I would sing, dance and act out scenes from my favourite Disney movies. I studied drama throughout school, college and university whilst also attending a variety of theatre groups including, most notably, the youth theatre group at Theatre Royal Stratford East. I joined the Identity Drama School at the age of 17 and it was here where my professional acting career began and I started to audition for shows like the BBC’s Casualty and ITV’s The Bill before eventually being cast in the BBC Three drama, West 10 LDN. Since then, I have done a number of short films, including the award-winning Zion and also Black British feature, The Naked Poet.
Since the launch of my website, www.kylafrye.com in April last year, I have been the author of Frye’s Fridays, where I blog about my experience of being a Black British actress and I have to admit, I have found it somewhat therapeutic. The idea of getting your innermost thoughts and feelings down on paper is not a new thing however, thanks to social networking, sharing these experiences with the world is still relatively new & rising. The most rewarding thing I have found about blogging is that it enables others who feel and think like I do to share their experiences with me… It’s comforting to know I am not alone!
Francis Ford Coppola once said, ‘I don’t think there’s any artist of any value who doesn’t doubt what they’re doing’, and I haven’t found that to be any truer than where I seem to find myself at this moment in my career. I KNOW, without a shadow of a doubt, that acting is what I do best. What is more, I KNOW that my pursuit of a career and success in acting is my destiny… I KNOW that – but that doesn’t stop the “army of enemies” in my mind, trampling over that knowledge and replacing it with doubt, worry and fear.
It’s natural at times to feel doubt, especially when working in this industry. You are constantly under scrutiny and being picked apart by people who believe they can sum you up in the space of three minutes in what can quite often be an awkward situation. Furthermore, the constant rejections are very difficult to continually rise from. The only thing that keeps me (and I suppose, many other artists going), is the knowledge that this is the right path laid out for us by the ‘Big Man’ upstairs and that one day, He will reward us for all our efforts.
Whilst watching a recent episode of The Graham Norton Show, I witnessed an interview with the Avengers star, Mark Ruffalo (i.e. Hulk) who explained that it “took years to become an overnight sensation…” and that he had roughly 600 auditions before his big break. In that moment, I tried to calculate the amount of auditions I have had but I couldn’t. The answer was simply, “countless”. Did Mark’s story inspire me? No, because it comes with the territory but it sure did console me.
I always knew (as most people do) that trying to become a global star is one of the hardest things you could ever embark upon. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I have to remind myself that patience is key! Being in this acting game is like being in a marathon… you just keep chugging away until you get to the end. Through all the stitches, breathlessness, cramps and blistered feet, you WILL get to the finish line & bask in the glory of your achievements. However, I wasn’t much of a long distance runner – I am a sprinter and like a kid at Christmas – I literally just can’t wait!
How do you tell your heart to settle down and chill out when all it wants to do is jump out of your chest and onto a film set or onto the stage? I have NO idea and that, I have to say, is my biggest problem. I love acting… I love becoming someone completely different to myself and telling their story in a way they couldn’t do themselves. Acting is my air and all I want to do is breathe! So what do I do whilst waiting and working towards my “lucky break”? They say that luck is opportunity meeting preparation so I choose to focus on being in a constant state of readiness and I do my best to wear my skin basked in resilience. Not only that, but I feel that I’m in a position now where I can finally take ownership of my craft. From my years of experience and also, the inspiration I receive from my peers, I have been encouraged to write and direct my own work. The whole idea of hanging around, waiting and hoping that someone will cast you in a project is something that I can no longer stomach, so I’ve decided to be the change that I want to see.
I’m tired of the same old, stereotypical, negative and destructive stories depicting an unrealistic and unrepresented look at the Black British experience. It is time for those in charge of new writing and production at the big movie companies and television networks to wake up and the only way this can happen is if the work that I and my peers create, ring a very loud alarm in their heads!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to go out of my way to be famous for famous sake. Fame doesn’t appeal to me, however I do want to reach out to millions and be successful. Success is what drives me and through my own success, I want to encourage others to live out their own success stories. I’ve always said that my motivation is to inspire a generation and earlier this month, I became a BYA (Black Youth Achievement) ambassador which enables me to speak to young people up and down the country, share my story and hopefully, inspire them to turn their dreams into a reality. I believe there is a star in each and every one of us and it is our duty to let our own light shine bright!
So what is next in store for me? Well, the great thing about being an actor is that you never know what’s next. You trust and hope that your agent is working as hard as they can to get you seen by the right people. You also trust and hope that when you do get an audition, the casting directors et al. see and hear exactly what you do when you go through the scene and that is greatness!
At the moment, I’m in rehearsals for two Writer’s Avenue events; the first being the Writer’s Avenue Films Launch on Tuesday the 29th of May and following that, in “6 Degrees” on Saturday the 23rd of June, both at Soho Theatre. Other than that, who knows what the good Lord has in store for me? He knows my heart and I trust in Him to fulfil my heart’s desires. In the meantime, I will continue to work hard on my craft, give the best of me in every situation handed to me and leave the rest up to Him.
Thank you all for taking the time out to read this and to everyone who has continually shown me their love and support- It has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!
Wishing you all nothing but love & blessings…
Buff Enterprises is the home of urban film coverage in the UK – keep up to date online at www.britishurbanfilmfestival.co.uk BUFF 2012 comes to London in October