Adjani Salmon is the award-winning writer, actor, and director of Dreaming Whilst Black which is loosely inspired by real-life events.
The series was adapted from the hugely popular web series Adjani created with Ali Hughes and has racked up a number of noms and award wins in the past year propelling Adjani’s career and leading him on to new roles in programmes.
We spoke to Adjani about the massive impact Dreaming Whilst Black has had on his career and being part of the BAFTA Cohort 2023
Please introduce yourself …
My name is Adjani Salmon, Winsome’s one son, Gladys’ grandchild. I’m Jamaican-British and I tell stories.
What’s been the most significant project of your career to date?
I think that’s yet to be defined being we have not seen all the fruits of Season 1’s labour. However, I’ll say it’s the web series of Dreaming Whilst Black because my career took it’s biggest turn after it was released.
Why did you want to follow this career path of becoming a multi-hyphenate creative ?
I became a hyphenate out of necessity. I wanted to become a director. I wrote because I needed scripts to direct. I acted because I couldn’t afford actors to say the lines in my script. I fell in love with the other elements (writing and actors) as I love storytelling and all those roles are storytelling skills.
And is everything going to plan …?
I threw out my plans a long time ago. the goals is the same but I’ve learnt early on that you have to be super adaptable. So I change plans all the time when I learn new information about the industry landscape.
Why was now the right time to apply / be submitted for BAFTA Breakthrough?
I think this was the time to apply for BAFTA Breakthrough because I have finally a “foot” in the industry. When I had the pilot I wasn’t guaranteed the series. So I had a glimpse but didn’t feel secure in it. This year after airing the series was when I finally felt, “yes Adjani, now, you can safely say you’re in the industry.“
What was the first thing you did when you found out you are part of this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough Cohort?
I had a quiet moment with myself, thanked God for the continually blessings then probably called my agent to rave about it!
What does it mean to be recognised by BAFTA, and what are you hoping to gain from the experience?
BAFTA recognition is always flattering as they are the Gold Standard of our industry in the UK. I hope to meet and build relationships with my cohort as well as have conversations with the industry people who I have looked up to for so many years. I would also love to get a mentor (or loose mentorship) in what seems to be a pivotal moment in my career too.
Who of your peers would you recommend for next year’s BAFTA Breakthrough cohort?
I will keep recommending my PeopleDem till they are all put on. They are my writing partners Ali Hughes and Yemi Oyefuwa; my producer Nicola Gregory; our HODs Jodie-Simone Howe, Angel Parmar, Peter Davis, Ash White, Gez Morris, Kwame Kwei-Armah Jr. and Nathalie Pitters; our directors Koby Adom, Joelle Mae David, Jermain Julien and Sebastian Thiel. My success is not my own, it is the team that made the show why I have been put into this spotlight, therefore I would like them all to have the spotlight too.
Tell us about a challenging moment during your career that you had to dig deep to get through?
To be honest the no’s are probably the hardest in the beginning. To be developing your craft continually, knowing you have the potential but still be told no in an insurmountable amount of ways makes it harder to keep getting up each time. It chips away at your confidence and self-belief. What got me through were my friends and comrades who were in the struggle with me. We kept each other’s mindsets up when we realised they were low and encouraged each other with each other’s work and scripts to keep pressing on. Equally with each opportunity we got, we tried to bring through as many people (even if just an introduction) to whoever we met. My fellow practitioner friends got me through.
I’m writing a classic sitcom for BBC Studios about a Jamaican family that run a Caribbean Takeaway Restaurant. I’m also working on my first feature film with Film4.
How do we keep up to date with you and your work?
Instagram: @s.adjani Twitter: @theadjani
What are you reading, watching, listening to right now, and what’s the last thing you saw on stage?
I’m reading between two books at the moment, The Drama of Being a Child by Alice Miller and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The last thing I watched on stage was Clyde’s Diner which had FANTASTIC performances all round but I was particularly spellbound by Ronke Adekoluejo and Gbemisola Ikumelo.