#NWDTalks with Olivia Fraser

(Photo Credit: GeGe Urbangem)

Olivia Fraser is the fierce female who we’ve been keeping a close eye for over a year. We first came across this beautiful and warm-hearted creative force when we watched her first release Ladyhood a webseries based on 3 females who were being played by the same one guy. Back then we knew this was just the beginning, for his high-achieving young lady who was on a mission to portray sisterhood and unity between females through the creative arts. Last year Olivia continued to let her creatives thoughts and ambitions drive her forward to create and release ‘Pretty Ok’ and ‘I Am’, two films which deal with different topics relating to the industry and society. Her exquisite yet down-to-earth and relatable screenwriting and directing skill ass well as her need to continue to fuel and grow creativity are have given her confidence to take another big leap in her career with her new theater play ‘Sirens’. 

With help of Bridge Media, Fraser has written a theater play, which stars three Black female leads played by Scarlett CarterAilema De Sousa and Oyin Balogun. It’s among the first of new generation of plays coming from the Black British perspective we are fully 100% in support of it. Afterall, it’s not a norm to see three young upcoming Black females play the lead in one play. Nevertheless, it’s a new challenge and an exciting one for Ms Fraser who has taken it all in her stride simply because Black theatre is on the rise in the UK and it is about time. Already plays such as ‘Kinks and All’ and ‘The Barbershop  Chronicles’ has received whopping positive reviews. ‘Sirens’ is an independent piece silently screaming to diversify and built an empire within the industry no matter the cost, time or effort. Theatre has a vital role in the world of entertainment and we’re seeing many big actors (e.g John Boyega in Woyzeck) perform at the West End. We believe the last standing area within the UK entertainment industry that needs diversifying.

1.Tell us how you developed an interest in screenwriting and how you embarked on a journey?

I developed an interest in screen writing when I realized that opportunities weren’t going to land on my lap. So I knew I had to create my own, not only for me but for others who also needed a chance. I’ve always loved improvising and creating stories so it just made sense to put my love for acting with this.

2. Not only are you’re a writer, but you’re an actor and director. If you had to choose among these three (writing, directing and acting) which one would you consider your preferred choice? 

I’d say my preference has changed over the years. Now, it would be directing, writing than acting.

3. With your strong talent in screenwriting, what made your lead to you to transition into the world of theatre with your new play ‘Sirens’. How did your collaboration with Bridge Media and The LOST Theatre come about?

Well, from a young age theatre was all I knew. It wasn’t until I moved to London that I looked into screenwriting. I had written this play for university and I loved it. I then saw Josh advertise that he wanted to produce a theatre production. I had re-written my play and was hoping he’d choose mine. When he showed interest that he wanted to take it on we started working together and that’s how it all began.

4. a) Have you always had an intriguing interest with theatre?

Yes, I’ve always loved theatre! I did theatre during high school and college. Both in school and outside of it. There’s nothing like a live performance.

b) When did the idea of playwriting come to you and how long has it taken the idea to become your first show date?

During university, I wrote this production and it was my first time writing a script on that kind of level. The script originally was a three male lead, which I changed after speaking to one of my friends. I developed the idea last year, so a couple years after university. Once I and Josh started working together that’s when things got a lot more intense. I broke down the script even more. Added depth to the characters, had to do research for relevant information etc. Those 3/4 weeks meeting with Josh and editing and rewriting was tough but created a great production.

5. Has becoming a play writer and theatre director being as hard or easier than you assumed?

I believe it’s been easier than I thought. I feel like this journey has been easier for me because I’ve had the help of Josh handling the production side of things. I just focus on the script, directing and the creative elements. I’m also working with amazing actors who can take direction and can execute their characters without too much stress.

6. What made you continue forward in telling the Black experience in a play following from ‘Pretty Ok’ and ‘I Am’

I feel like the black experience now has a lot more exposure on screen but I feel it lacks a presence on stage. The theatre is a platform I’d love more people of colour to feel like they can go to and see their stories. It isn’t for a certain type of people it’s for everyone to experience and appreciate no matter their walk in life.

7. ‘Barbershop Chronicles’, ‘Kinks and All’ and ‘Girls Trip’ are just a few titles that have proven to be successful with the public audience. Do you think that creatives should explore more the world theatre alongside film and television?

I 100% agree that they should explore world theatre more, especially in England. I didn’t get to see Kinks and all but I will be watching Barbershop Chronicles as they’ve released more tickets! Movies are great but there’s something about live performance that affects people in a different way.

8. Despite the success of ‘Girls Trip’ breaking the box office, many critiques on the film’s convert agenda of pushing stereotypes of Black women and not breaking ground of revealing a new narrative away from the status quo. With ‘Sirens’ being among the first plays in Britain to have three Black female leads, how important is it to you to give audiences a new perspective of being a Black female whilst keeping the balance between entertainment and quality?

Well, Sirens definitely breaks certain perceptions of who young black females in London are. But it also raises issues and touches subjects a lot of people will always be able to relate to whether you’re black, white, male or female. I felt it was important to bring a piece of reality to the stage. It’s not the reality of everyone but it is for some and I want the audience to be able to look further than the subject matters and have a bond with the characters. Because this script was originally written for three males I do feel you’ll see these women bringing a presence to the stage that you wouldn’t ‘normally’ see.

9. How would you describe ‘Sirens’ in one word/sentence? 

Three experiences on the stage of a friendship unraveling in front of your eyes.

10. What’s the possibility that they’ll be three male leads in your next theatre play (if you decide to do one)?

There’s always a possibility that it could happen! I’d love to do another theatre production, let’s see what God has planned.

11. Do you have any future plans that you can tell us?

At the moment I have a few projects I want to work on this winter but it’s something different, that’s all I can say for now.

Photo Credit: GeGe Urbangem

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