Anne Musisi is a writer-performer, who classically trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Since then she has worked on a number of creative projects both in front of and behind the camera. Most recently, Anne featured in Cake a comedy sketch pilot by Melon Comedy.
The multi-talented creative also produced the short film Rebirth, written for her project MWSF (‘The Man, the Woman, the Spirit and the Flame’) which tackled ending violence against women. Musisi has also directed short films for some of UK’s top drama institutions, including The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Arts Educational School London.
Combining a love of acting, teaching, and all things creative Musisi founded an initiative called ‘Anne’s Creatives’ Encouragement and Advice Hotline’, a support network for non-white creatives focused on empowerment and elevation. The first event in January was an acting class centred around helping actors reduce performance anxiety.
We spoke to her to find out more about her projects …
Please tell us a little more about who you are and what you do?
First, thank you so much for taking the time to hear my story. I admire your work and how dedicated the British Blacklist is to championing creatives of colour. It is an honour to be able to engage with you. I am a multidisciplinary artist. I trained as an actress at Regent’s University London and then later at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Somewhere on my training journey, I learned how important it is for myself as a creative to begin to reclaim and transform the narratives surrounding how I was represented as a Black woman in the film industry and what that would mean for my career.
Where before I was intent on doing nothing but acting, I realised that in order to tell the stories I want to tell and perform the roles I want to perform, I would need to arm myself with the tools to create those opportunities for myself. So as well as being a performer, I am a songwriter, screenwriter, film director, and producer. I say this proudly because it is the act of tapping into all these disciplines that has not only brought me this far but contributed to my confidence and sense of purpose as a creative.
Please give a word or sentence which best describes your life right now…
Can you tell us more about your initiative about Anne’s Creatives’ Encouragement and Advice Hotline and what encouraged its development?
I developed Anne’s Creatives’ Encouragement and Advice Hotline (ACEAH), to share with other creatives of colour what I have learned on my own creative journey so far and be an educational and motivational resource in an entertainment industry that often feeds on the insecurities of artists to survive. I wanted to champion the dreams people have that they’re too scared to speak on; dreams that had been suppressed. To transform how we approach various creative processes to encourage the presence of creatives that are not only talented but empowered.
Has the initiative been affected at all by the Coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions?
I set this initiative up in December 2019, I had created content and platforms to share and I was excited about this new endeavour. In the uncertainty of the pandemic, however, I found that I lost hope in the idea and therefore the motivation to follow through. Not only did I feel like no one would care, I thought the pursuit was arrogant, that it was bigger than me. In that, I had no idea how I expected to exact as much change as I aspired to, on my own. I also no longer felt like I had anything positive to say or share in a way that would be authentic – classic imposter syndrome. As a result, I stopped everything. Even engaging on social media personally. What I found over time was a renewed sense of purpose and identity that I now feel I am ready to share. Oddly enough, this pandemic has been a vital instrument in strengthening me by teaching me about what it means to take care of self. For that, I am most grateful.
You have an MA in Acting for Screen from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. You are also a practicing screen acting tutor at the Identity School of Acting. How has your academic and working background helped with the navigation of your initiative?
My experience, academic and professional, has equipped me with the tools to identify what young creatives need to succeed. My journey has been unique and that has taught me to view each and everyone I engage in a way that considers their multifaceted nature and how that contributes to the way they could navigate their creative journey in a way that leads to success and/or fulfilment they seek.
Why did you think an initiative like this needed to be founded?
Not enough creatives I come across believe in themselves. I wanted to create a space where they could potentially find the positive affirmation they needed to keep pursuing their dreams.
You recently had your first event – an acting class centred around helping actors reduce performance anxiety is this a common issue?
Every actor I come across suffers from a form of performance anxiety, whether it is overt or covert. Most of the time it is due to their lack of confidence in themselves or the desire to ‘get it right’. We all have a tendency to burn ourselves out when we have perfectionist tendencies and my job is to create a safe space for actors to focus on learning the right skills they need to develop their passion into a craft. I have found that actors do best when they learn to channel their talent using the appropriate tools. I help them create a goal, focus on the the task at hand and deliver while maintaining a strong sense of character, yes, but most importantly self.
You are one of very few black and female acting coaches in the UK, what exactly does an acting coach do and what is the importance of having one?
An acting coach trains, advises, and mentors performers in the development of their acting talent. Having an acting coach is significant because they create a space for actors to identify their strengths and how best to apply them in performance. Acting coaches also can identify an actor’s challenges and nurture them through them.
What difference does a black acting coach make to especially black actors?
When Black actors see themselves reflected in those that teach them, it gives them hope that there is in fact space for them in the industry. Space for their presence, story, experience, contribution, and talent. It provides the very validation that Black actors need and deserve. We deserve to be seen, to be heard, to be understood. We deserve to be reminded that we can manifest our dreams into reality and that we are not alone in the endeavour to balance the scales of inequality that we face in our creative pursuits.
Do you notice a difference in the way that Black acting coaches are represented in the industry?
I can’t say I notice a ‘difference’ exactly as I have only engaged with a handful of black acting coaches. From what I have seen and experienced I think the world would benefit greatly from the continued identification and celebration of Black acting coaches. People need to know we are here.
What other events can people look forward to?
Currently, I am hosting a Meet and Greet networking event called Challenges with Aspirations. My endeavour is to host this once a month to give creatives an opportunity to engage with me and network with other creatives in an encouraging environment. Our next event is on the 13th of this month. The topic of discussion will be: ‘Understanding WHO YOU ARE, and how it is vital in the creative journey.’ Additionally, I am in the planning stages of hosting more acting classes that are centred around relaxation and eventually I will expand and offer classes centred around various classical acting principles and networking.
You have also worked as a film director with students from some of the top institutions for performance education what excites you most about your work and what drives your passion to teach?
I love when young actors finally get to see how their hard work and training manifests in the medium of film. I love the moments I can see it ‘click’ for an actor, the moment they shed their insecurities and surrender to the role. The magic moment when I see they are living their dream right now, by exploring and discovering parts of themselves they never knew they had. That’s what makes my work exciting.
You are also a filmmaker, can you tell us about your latest project The Unravelling, and where it currently is in terms of release?
The Unravelling written by Grace Ofori-Attah screened online and was commissioned and hosted by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). Further screenings and or release is yet to be confirmed. I am also currently in post-production for a second film I directed for RADA at the end of last year called WAKE, written by up-and-coming writer George Morgan. This story is incredibly personal to me as it follows a young black woman’s experience trying to navigate a white-dominated space in the wake of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. I am so grateful to Pamela Jikiemi (Head of Film, TV and Radio at RADA) and RADA for providing me with the opportunity to bring these stories to life. A screening for WAKE is also yet to be confirmed.
If you would like to see any of my previous work you can go to my YouTube Channel. One of my projects is called Ruth, it is the first film I ever directed and it was written by Abeo Jackson, a close friend and fellow creative. Ruth is a film that sheds light on the life of a young Afro-Caribbean woman and her experience with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease. I loved being a part of this project and I am honoured I had the opportunity to launch my directing career with a film as meaningful as this.
If you’re wanting to watch something light-hearted, feel free to check out Steups, a short film I wrote, produced, and acted in during my time training at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Steups is a silly film I wrote about a truly hopeless romantic called Tanya, who hires a crook ‘Cool Money‘ to kidnap her crush so she can ask him out on a date.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to keep focusing on projects that bring me joy and fulfilment. I want to make and release music this year. I partnered with music producer E. Hill, who’s also a radio presenter at Pie Radio. We recorded a song called Symbol of My Love, due to release soon. I also want to finish some screenplays. While I take on the mission to mentor the next generation of actors/creatives, I want to remember that I am one too. My dreams are valid too. I am determined not to lose sight of that and I can’t wait to show the world what I have to say and what I can do.
Is there anything you have currently going on that you would like our audience to be aware of?
In terms of dates, currently my work is ongoing. I am hosting a meet and greet this Saturday 13th March at 2pm. Tickets are free. These will happen once a month. In addition to that, I am always available for private tutorship and I will be offering a series of group classes every few weeks.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU…
● A book you have to have in your collection – Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams – The Story of Black Hollywood by Donald Bogle (Historical), a book recommended by my dear friend and vocal coach Raina Welch. This book changed my understanding and perspective on the black presence in the development of Hollywood.
● A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date – Easy (Acoustic) by Seinabo Sey
● A film / TV show that you will watch whenever it’s on repeatedly – (Guilty pleasure)Twilight series or Pirates of the Caribbean series
● What’s made you sad, mad, and glad this week? The Megan Markle and Prince Harry Interview with Oprah Winfrey
Follow Anne’s Creatives’ Encouragements and Advice Hotline Instagram
Annes next event is a FREE online meet and greet Challenges with Aspirations Feb 13th 2pm book here