Chantelle Ampomah Aboraah is a talented writer and director hailing from Essex.
Her debut short film “NIA,” funded by the BBC showcased at the Aesthetica Film Festival, and delves into a powerful narrative inspired by a true story close to her heart. The film, centrered around self-discovery and forgiveness, tells the compelling story of a young woman seeking to find something she never had after her grandmother’s passing – her mother.
Chantelle, who has worked on notable projects like the Disney+ TV series “Culprits” and BBC’s “EastEnders,” opens up about the significance of this heartfelt project …
Please introduce yourself …
Chantelle Ampomah Aboraah – a writer/director (and script editor) from Essex.
What or who started you on this particular career path?
When I was 8 years old and I watched Moulin Rouge (directed by Baz Luhrmann) for the first time.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently a script editor/storyliner on Eastenders. But writing a family driven comedy-drama series in between.
Tell us about your short film NIA …
After the death of her grandmother, a young woman embarks on a journey of self-discovery and forgiveness, to find something she never had, her mother. NIA is a true story inspired by my niece, who has been estranged from her mother since she was 4 years old. My mother (my niece’s grandmother) has been raising her ever since. I started writing this film because I wanted to explore the complexities and contradictions of being black and growing up in a white environment – and by extension, the profound connection we share as a human race with our identity. In my niece’s experience, I began to notice her struggling with the same challenges and internal conflict about appearance, identity, and her blackness, that I found myself facing – as I was raised in the same white, countryside town. There is an endless battle that takes place of confusion, surrounding self-acceptance, and feeling very alien.
Tell us about your team on NIA …
I was truly blessed with an incredible crew. My producer, Martina Russo, never gave up on trying to make my vision a reality – even when it felt impossible and yet she made it happen. My executive producers, Sheila Nortley and Leon Mayne have taught me a lot, particularly the business side of filmmaking, which can be a struggle for new filmmakers. My DOP, Jasper Enujuba, brought the film to life in a way that was even more beautiful than how I imagined it in my mind. And of course, my leading lady, Priscilla Fagbemi – who is going places let me tell you. Her dedication to the character and the work she put in to understand Nia’s trauma is what a director dreams of.
What has NIA taught you about yourself as a filmmaker and a person?
As a person, I’m a perfectionist but as a filmmaker trying to achieve perfection… it’s not possible. There will always be something you wish you could do differently, or change, or edit a scene in a different way. The lesson is knowing when to stop. When it comes to your own creativity, I’m not sure perfection exists…
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
What are you watching? This Is Us, Westworld.
What are you reading? Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development Book by K. M. Weiland, Eastenders scripts, the Bible.
What are you listening to? Scarlet by Doja Cat.
Last thing you saw on stage? Tina: The musical. It was phenomenal.
Whose footsteps are you following in? Steve McQueen? One can dream.
What’s next? Make another short, and get the pilot I’m writing commissioned.
What’s your socials?
IG: @chantelleaboraah @bbcnia (film page)
NIA will be available on BBC iPlayer early 2024.