Throughout October, the NFTS will mark Black History Month by honouring the achievements of some of our Black alumni and a range of our current students who will soon graduate. 

Whilst we believe Black history shouldn’t be confined to just one month, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate our Black graduating students and the accomplishments of our Black alumni and the trail they have blazed within the film, television and games industry. 

NFTS Celebrating Black History Month

This page will be updated daily during October so please check back to read more on the alumni and students featured.

30 October - Remembering Dan Demissie | NFTS Producing MA graduate
Dan Demissie
In Memory of Dan Demissie, 1982-2019


During Black History Month, the NFTS would like to take the opportunity to remember Dan Demissie, a graduate of the Producing MA who sadly passed away in July 2019. Here, Dan’s brother Simon pays a moving tribute to his sibling and Dan’s tutor Chris Auty remembers an unforgettable student who is much missed by all who knew him at the NFTS.

“Dan was a student I will never forget. He had a gentleness and empathy that made him a natural magnet to the most creative people at the School. That is probably why he produced two of the most distinctive and inventive graduation films during his time at the NFTS. Cocoons (directed by Joasia Goldyn) spun a dreamlike web around the story of two kids inventing a life for themselves in a suburban cul-de-sac where all the adults seem to have gone to sleep, both literally and metaphorically. Cocoons went on to win Most Original Film at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools. It was only when I went to Dan’s memorial on the Isle of Wight did I realise that he had used his own childhood home as the location for the film. Another graduation film, Robomax, (directed by Moad Fahmi) was a wonderfully crisp and hilarious CGI animation comedy about a robot gone out of control in a domestic world.  It is rare to meet a filmmaker who is both very talented AND very kind: the two qualities rarely go together. It is so sad that he is not still making films. I miss him very much.” Chris Auty, Head of NFTS Producing MA

'While we continue to try to come to terms with the loss of Dine we remember fondly his passion for film and how he found community and camaraderie in his time at NFTS. Working with friends and other creative people made this time one that he really enjoyed - and we remember him and the rest of the team working on Cocoons using the island as the film's background, and our childhood home as a crucial place for brief moments of rest and relaxation. We thank the NFTS for remembering Dine during this Black History Month. We won't forget the company, love and support he gave us, and we miss him every day.” Simon Demissie

In Dan’s memory, our friends at the Met Film School where Dan studied the One Year Filmmaking Programme have launched the Dan Demissie Voices That Matter Scholarship. It will offer a full scholarship to a Met Film School BA or MA programme to one Black student annually. The Dan Demissie Voices That Matter Scholarship is designed to support the next generation of Black filmmakers, recognising the importance of accessibility and equality within the screen industry. The scholarship is accepting applications until Friday 30 April 2021. For more details on how to apply go to the dedicated Met Film School page here: bit.ly/34G2vAh.
29 October - Celebrating Danielle Goff | NFTS Producing | Graduating 2021
Danielle Goff
Danielle Goff, NFTS Producing student


Growing up on a council estate in South London, I never saw a place for myself in this industry. Seeing stories that reflect you, by creatives that represent you is a truly powerful thing

NFTS Producing MA student Danielle Goff is a film and television producer whose work focuses on diverse stories by diverse creatives. From British, Algerian and Jamaican heritage, her experiences and the stories she tells are inherently influenced by her class, heritage and culture, as well as her experiences as a carer for her mother and sister. Danielle is currently in pre-production on Dragged Up, ”a powerful and fabulous short comedy film about family, identity and drag”, made via the NFTS Platform! Kickstarter initiative. Her graduation film The Visit is in post-production and will premiere to leading industry figures in March 2021 during the annual NFTS Graduate Showcase.

Here, Danielle reflects on her hopes for the future, shining a light on stories that deserve a platform and how she has found her voice as a producer through studying at the NFTS.

What are your hopes for the future upon graduating?

To continue working with the incredibly talented people I’ve met at the NFTS and learn from those I admire that have opened doors and paved the way. The ultimate dream is to start my own company where the core is inclusivity, working with new and existing diverse talent whilst giving back to our communities and young people that might not have the contacts, opportunities or see themselves reflected in our industry.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

Inclusivity is the act of providing equal access to opportunity and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. This industry has historically avoided actively engaging with the imbalance of diversity both on screen and off. I was a kid growing up on a council estate in South London and never saw a place for myself in this industry. Seeing stories that reflect you, by creatives that represent you is a truly powerful thing. It can also validate your experience and open up dialogue about issues that don’t usually have a platform or are told from the perspective of someone who doesn’t represent you. It helps our understanding of each other as people. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be inclusive. We need to ensure that negative, stereotypical and caricature representations of people from diverse backgrounds are cut out at the root.

We need to empower storytellers and talented crew and protect them as they grow as creatives and build their careers. Nepotism in the industry is a problem, there are some amazing institutions that are opening pathways for creatives from under-represented backgrounds but there is much more work to do. We need a range of leaders in decision making positions to hold hands and move this industry forward together – because everyone that wants to be a part of creating should be given the tools, regardless of where they come from, to achieve whatever they aspire to achieving.

What have been your highlights of studying at the NFTS?

Finding my voice as a producer – through the films I’ve made and the people I’ve met. The masterclasses have been incredible – I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of my heroes and be inspired to push my own practice as a producer. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some super talented people that are now part of the tribe forever. I’ve been given a space to make mistakes, grow and surprise myself at what is possible. It’s been a hard journey but a crazy and magical one at the same time.

29 October - Celebrating Samson Ibitoye | NFTS Directing and Producing Television Entertainment | Graduating 2021
Samson Ibitoye
Samson Ibitoye, NFTS Directing & Producing TV Entertainment student


“Collectively advocating for increased diversity and taking action both off-screen and on-screen will make a real difference”

Samson Ibitoye is a student of the NFTS Directing and Producing Television Entertainment MA course. He is currently working on his graduation project, Britain’s Lost Walks, a television show featuring an artist and an explorer rediscovering lost historic footpaths. Top Gear would be Samson’s dream TV show to work on while the BBC’s Normal People is his favourite show of 2020 due to its use of visual language to tell the story and convey the emotions and internal dialogues of the characters. Here, Samson tells us about his hopes as a director entering the television industry and his advice for anyone thinking of applying to the NFTS.

What are your hopes for the future upon graduating?

The NFTS has given me a solid creative and technical foundation for the industry. My hope as a director is to create films and television series that showcase my creative strength whilst applying the learnings from the NFTS.

What is your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

My vision as a filmmaker is to entertain whilst being a missionary for upright living and a positive attitude to life. Collectively advocating for increased diversity and taking action both off-screen and on-screen will make a real difference. One of the other ways to increase diversity within the industry is to create more platforms to showcase world class creative works and talent from people of ethnic minority backgrounds. This is one of my main aspirations for the industry and a project I am looking forward to.

What has been your highlight of studying at the NFTS?

I have so many highlights but the ones that stood out for me were; the quality of the knowledge from the tutors, the one to one access to top film and TV industry professionals and the quality of The Object of Art, a unique TV pilot I produced and episode 3 of Life After Five, a live TV show I directed during my time at the NFTS.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to the NFTS?

Whatever course you apply for at the NFTS, you can be rest assured to have access to practical experience while working with world class training facilities. In addition to that, you will also learn from tutors who know and own their craft.

For more info on the Directing & Producing Television MA go to: nfts.co.uk/tvent

28 October - Celebrating Ernest Abbeyquaye | Director | Chronicles of Odumkrom: The Headmaster, Hopes on the Horizon, King Lions Law (Musical)
Ernest Abbeyquaye
Ernest Abbeyquaye, 1975 NFTS Directing Fiction alumnus


“Whatever I have done, whatever I have achieved, whatever I am now, I credit all to the grounding given to me at the NFTS – the best film and television School in the world!”

Ernest Abbeyquaye had a childhood talent for telling stories and has been in the film-making business since the early 1960’s. Graduating from the NFTS in 1975, Ernest is a stalwart of the Ghanaian film and TV industry and has written and directed numerous features and documentaries, filming across Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Eritrea. He has amassed an impressive number of accolades throughout his career and was awarded Television and Film Pioneer at the 2018 GUBA Awards in London, an annual event to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of Ghanaian and African based businesses and individuals in the UK.

What are your memories of your time at the NFTS?

During my time at the NFTS we had a bunch of enlightened, focused and eager students, each determined to acquire the necessary training for his or her future career. There were great minds, Conservatives, Liberals and Socialists. Their agitations were always for an all-inclusive community in and out of the School. Whatever I have done, whatever I have achieved, whatever I am now, I credit all to the grounding given me at the NFTS – the best film and television School in the world! To NFTS staff and my contemporaries; Colin Young, Roger Crittenden, Brian Winston, Roger Deakins, Tony Freeth, Sarah Jolly and all the many lovely people who have passed through or are presently going through the School, I say cheers!

27 October - Celebrating Kolton Lee | Writer, Director | Freestyle, Cherps, The Last Card (Novel)
Kolton Lee
Kolton Lee, 1991 NFTS Directing Fiction alumnus


“We are all made poorer through a lack of diverse narratives about who we are as a nation and about who tells these stories”

Kolton is an award winning filmmaker and novelist. For the past 15 years he has been a teacher within the field of writing and directing for film and television and is a former journalist and editor of The Voice, Britain’s leading black newspaper for news, sport and entertainment with an African and Caribbean perspective. Kolton is currently the Programme Director for MediaWorks at Ravensbourne University, leading the delivery of film and television BA courses. He has taught at a variety of institutions over the years at both undergraduate and postgraduate level from Central Film School in London to The New York Film Academy.

Kolton graduated from the NFTS Directing Fiction MA in 1991 and his graduation film A Chance To Dance was screened by the BBC as one of six short films curated by Sir Lenny Henry. Kolton made his mark writing scripts for long running dramas including EastEnders, Byker Grove and Brothers and Sisters and has made two feature films. He was writer-director of Cherps, which went on to become the first independently produced and financed black British feature film to be bought by the BBC, winning the Screen Nation Independent Spirit Film Award. Kolton’s second feature film was titled Freestyle and his first novel, the crime thriller The Last Card was published in 2007.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

Diversity and inclusivity are very much the topic of the moment. As gratifying as that is, it’s been a topic of every moment of my life. Consequently, I view this moment of cultural self-examination with what I believe to be a healthy wariness. But if the industry really wants to see change…change comes from being open and honest with each other about the exclusion of people of colour that has taken place over the decades; change comes from open, transparent and accountable leadership in driving inclusivity, from the very top of our cultural institutions - such as the BBC and the BFI, to name but two; and change comes from white people recognising that we are all made poorer through a lack of diverse narratives about who we are as a nation and about who tells these stories. None of this is easy, but it’s what we have to do if we really want change.

26 October - Celebrating Rienkje Attoh | Founder of So and So Productions Producer | Noughts + Crosses, You Don't Know Me
Rienkje Attoh
Rienkje Attoh, 2015 NFTS Producing alumna


“Our industry needs to be considered a career path for everyone. Children at primary school should grow up knowing that they have a place in this business”

A 2016 BFI Vision Awardee, Rienkje is a BAFTA member and founder of production company So&So Productions and was recently unveiled as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow 2020’. Her first feature credit was producing her fellow NFTS classmate Shola Amoo’s feature debut, A Moving Image, currently streaming on Netflix. Since graduating from the NFTS Producing MA in 2015, Rienkje has gone on to co-produce the widely acclaimed BBC drama Noughts + Crosses and is due to start prep on You Don’t Know Me, an upcoming drama for the broadcaster. She is currently casting for A Broken Tower, a film developed by her production company and is also developing Cecile Emeke’s debut feature, No Telephone to Heaven.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

The NFTS opened so many doors for me through the training on the Producing MA and the opportunities I had to work with a plethora of talented individuals. I also got the time to rediscover aspects of my creativity, which will stay with me forever. It was the best investment I made in myself and it literally changed my life.

In what way did the Producing MA in particular benefit you?

I applied to the NFTS to learn about the filmmaking business and build up the knowledge and confidence to run my own production company and so far I haven’t fared too badly, I say smiling! The relationships you build at film school are priceless.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

I have seen some promising changes, especially with all the SVOD platforms. I’m encouraged by the diversity in front of the camera but a lot more can be done behind it. Organisations have to actively seek out and train up talented individuals from all walks of life and nurture those talents. George Floyd's death has shown us how quickly the landscape can change if we demand it but we can’t stop now. Our industry needs to be considered a career path for everyone. I’d even go as far as saying children at primary school should be targeted so they can grow up knowing that they have a place in this business.

25 October - Celebrating Marissa Lestrade | NFTS Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice | Graduating 2021
Marissa Lestrade
Marissa Lestrade, NFTS Screenwriting:Finding Your Voice student


“I’d like to replace the word ‘diversity’ with ‘normalising’. Let’s normalise the industry so it looks like the world we live in.”

Marissa Lestrade is a current NFTS student of the Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice Diploma and will shortly graduate, continuing her career as a screenwriter for Film/TV and Radio. Here she tells us about her hopes for the future, how we can normalise the industry so it better reflects the world we live in and why she feels the NFTS is a place to hone your craft, speak your mind and tell your stories.

What are your hopes for the future upon graduating?

My screenwriting career so far has been on dramas for the main TV broadcasters such as BBC, CBBC, Channel 4, Netflix and Fox. I’ve also developed and written dramas internationally in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Botswana and Ghana. I’d now like to have my own show put into development, to work with a production company that shares my vision and to see it fully produced on TV!

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

I’m with Shonda Rhimes on this – the word ‘diversity’ means something other than white, male and straight. So in a world where black and brown people, women, the LGBTQIA community, disabled people and the working-class, make up far more that 50% of the population, I’d like to replace the word ‘diversity’ with ‘normalising’. Let’s normalise the industry so it looks like the world we live in. I’d like for the decision-makers to believe that by hiring us their product becomes better, because a variety of voices and perspectives makes for more interesting drama content. I’d like for there to be a variety of people in decision-making positions so different kinds of stories are commissioned and made. I’d also like for there to be a variety of people in decision-making positions at OFCOM, to ensure broadcasters are held accountable if they don’t hit their targets.

What has been your highlight of studying at the NFTS?

The highlight has been working with our tutor Tammy Riley-Smith, and attending the incredible masterclasses online.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to the NFTS?

This is a place to hone your craft, to speak your mind, to tell your stories. This is a place where you belong.

23 October - Celebrating Nathaniel Price | Writer | Noughts + Crosses, Tin Star, The Offenders
Nathaniel Price
Nathaniel Price, 2016 NFTS Screenwriting alumnus


“We need to back our wide pool of talented, diverse writers and creatives who have a plethora of stories to tell – not just the ones the gatekeepers think or are comfortable with us telling.”

Nathaniel is a writer for film, television, theatre and radio. He graduated from the NFTS with an MA in Screenwriting in 2016 having successfully trained as part of the School’s on-going Scholarship Programme. Nathaniel penned two episodes of the widely acclaimed BBC1 drama Noughts + Crosses which is still available on BBC iPlayer and is currently streaming in the US on Peacock TV. He has also written episodes of Sky’s Tin Star - the final series will air in the winter of 2020. He is currently writing on The Offenders, a BBC One/Amazon series and has a number of original dramas in development with his first original play, First Touch commissioned by Nottingham Playhouse.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

Attending the NFTS helped to make my dream of becoming a writer a reality.

In what way did the Screenwriting MA in particular benefit you?

It not only helped to develop my confidence in my craft, but it also exposed me to genres and mediums that would previously have been out of my comfort zone in terms of exploring. The course was also great at promoting me within the industry, helping to foster relationships that are still invaluable today.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

We need to back our wide pool of talented, diverse writers and creatives who have a plethora of stories to tell – not just the ones the gatekeepers think or are comfortable with us telling. Greater representation at the top would definitely help with this.

22 October - Celebrating Ebele Tate | NFTS Directing Fiction MA | Graduating 2021
Ebele Tate
Ebele Tate, NFTS Directing Fiction student


“It is my intention to tell our stories from an authentic perspective, subvert racist stereotypes and readdress the balance."

Ebele Tate is studying the Directing Fiction MA course. She is currently in post production on her graduation film, The Visit, a semi-autobiographical account of the first time she went to see her estranged mother in Edinburgh, the delicate nuances of their relationship and the world around them. The Visit will premiere to leading industry figures in March 2021 during the annual NFTS Graduate Showcase. Upon graduation, Ebele plans to develop a slate of film and TV projects for the UK and US markets with a view to eventually setting up her own film company. Its focus will be on amplifying the voices of marginalised and underrepresented groups both in front of and behind the camera.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

When I studied filmmaking my understanding for the power of the image was fully realised, how it can and does shape societal perceptions around identity and how these perceptions become global truths whether they are truth or not. Film has been weaponised against BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) and it is my intention to tell our stories from an authentic perspective, subvert racist stereotypes and readdress the balance. It is no longer acceptable for the BIPOC experience to be told through a white lens and we must support each other to make our space and opportunities within the industry.

What has been your highlight of studying at the NFTS?

Being submerged in the filmmaking process 24/7 for almost two years at the NFTS, has enabled me to understand and hone exactly who I am and what I want to say through my storytelling as a writer/ director. Being surrounded by other storytellers in other specialist filmmaking disciplines has a thousand times over levelled up my own practice and created this magical space for creative exchange and support.

21 October - Celebrating Nigel Tadyanehondo | NFTS Digital Effects MA | Graduating 2021
Nigel Tadyanehondo
Nigel Tadyanehondo, NFTS Digital Effects student


“I think the industry needs to help make education more accessible so we can tell different stories.”

Nigel Tadyanehondo is currently studying the Digital Effects MA and will be graduating next year. Alongside his studies, Nigel is also an independent colourist working on Web/TV commercials, music promos and short films. Below, Nigel tells us about his plans for the future, his views on diversity within the industry and making education more accessible for different voices.

What are your hopes for the future upon graduating?

I am aiming to open my own boutique Post Production Company at some point in the future. I never applied to work in post houses because I was intimidated that I might not be welcome. I’d go to their ‘About Me’ pages and think ‘I’m not going to fit in there’ so decided to take an unconventional route to becoming a colourist. My aim is to create a space where you are welcomed based on your talents and not because of your race, gender, religion or social class.

I also have slow growing plans to get a team of people together and hold workshops and events in different countries to teach people how to be amazing filmmakers and tell great stories that people can enjoy and relate to. I want people to start having more conversations with each other, learn to be more kind and understand each other’s different lives. I think filmmaking is the best way to showcase those stories.

What is your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

I think the industry needs to help make education more accessible so we can tell different stories. I couldn’t afford to come to the NFTS initially and without people supporting me it wouldn’t have been possible. This made me realise how many talented people are left on the side-lines based on the fact they do not have access to funds. It’s sad when you think about how many talented people are out there and we don’t ever get to hear their voices or see what they’re capable of as creatives.

I also think there is a lot of nepotism within the industry which goes hand in hand with why there is a massive diversity issue. There needs to be more teaching on equality, diversity and inclusion to the people with significant power within the industry.

What has been your highlight of studying at the NFTS?

My biggest highlight has definitely been meeting all the talented students and teachers here. One of the main reasons I applied was because you have people who are actively in the industry teaching you how to do the job. I think it’s grown me as a filmmaker, as a creative and as a person. It’s taught me to be more effective with how I communicate with people as you are working with people from nations, so you have to be sensitive to people’s cultures and their way of life. I don’t think I would have had that experience if I had just stayed at home and kept freelancing from my bedroom!

20 October - Celebrating Athena Sammy | Production/Producer's Office | Fantastic Beasts 3, The Batman, Wonder Woman 1984
Athena Sammy
Athena Sammy, 2017 NFTS Production Management alumna 


“I want to see more people that look like me, not only on screen - but on set, in the workshops and the production offices.”

Athena graduated from the NFTS Production Management for Film and Television Diploma in 2017. Since then, her career has gone from strength to strength working in a number of behind the scenes roles including Production Secretary, Assistant Production Co-ordinator, Production Co-ordinator and Producer’s Assistant for blockbusters such as Wonder Woman 1984, Bloodshot, Spider-Man: Far from Home and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Recently Athena worked on the much anticipated The Batman and is currently on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

Everyone knows about being a director, an actor, a cinematographer. Many young people are unaware of the vast range of exciting and fulfilling roles that exist behind the scenes in so many different departments. A key element to improving diversity is introducing this world to young people from diverse backgrounds, who are unaware of these career opportunities. No one wants to be hired simply because of the colour of their skin or their gender. It’s about having a fair shot.

In the near future, I’d love to start a program where current crew visit schools and sixth form colleges to share and showcase the different roles available within departments across a drama production.

Diversity shouldn’t simply be an exercise in ticking boxes, it’s time for society to wholeheartedly and unapologetically embrace people of all colours and creeds. I want to see more people that look like me, not only on screen - but on set, in the workshops and the production offices. This needs to start from the top down. It’s not enough to consider diversity when employing people in junior roles, it’s important to have representation at all levels.

19 October - Celebrating Basi Akpabio | Executive Producer | The ABC Murders, The Pale Horse, Ordeal by Innocence
Basi Akpabio
Basi Akpabio, 1991 NFTS Script Development Alumnus


“Film and TV have an extraordinary power to shape the cultural conversation”

Basi is the Creative Director at Agatha Christie Ltd, the company which has managed the literary and media rights to Agatha Christie's works worldwide since 1955. With a 20 year track record of delivering highly creative content for all the major UK broadcasters as well as internationally, before joining Agatha Christie Ltd, Basi held roles with the BBC, ITV, Red Bee Media, Acorn Productions and The Africa Channel.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

As many of us ponder how to help change the industry for the better, one element I’ve heard little about has been education. For me, the Script Development course I did at the NFTS was a crucial element in being able to change direction in my career, and it opened the door to a senior role as Creative Director at Agatha Christie Ltd.

Much has been said about the need for more diverse talent in positions of influence and becoming Creative Director has given me a voice at the top table. Not only with our BBC productions in the UK but also with our films in Hollywood and in territories around the world which are making or developing Christie shows. I hope that in my way, this voice is making a difference.

Film and TV have an extraordinary power to shape the cultural conversation and amidst so much current discussion, I hope that education in general and the NFTS in particular, will be valued as a way of equipping diverse talent with the skills they need to thrive in the industry.

17 October - Celebrating Marcus Thomas | NFTS Directing Fiction MA | Graduating 2021
Marcus Thomas


“Creating narratives with a diverse range of lead characters feels important and natural to me”

Marcus Thomas is a current student of the NFTS Directing Fiction course. He is currently in post production on his graduation film Caterpillar, a drama depicting modern-day slavery on a cannabis farm. The film will premiere to leading industry figures as part of the annual NFTS Graduation Showcase in March 2021.

Upon graduating, Marcus is keen to develop his own feature film and television projects and would like to mentor young people to show them what is possible in life. Here, Marcus tells us more about his ambitions for entering the industry and how his time at the NFTS has given him the space to create stories that add to the cultural conversation.

What have been your highlights of studying at the NFTS?

I’ve most enjoyed being able to have the space to create stories that can hopefully add to conversations that are happening in society. As a black person, I know that the stereotypes about people who look like me hold little weight, and so creating narratives with a diverse range of lead characters feels important and natural to me. I find the researching, the building of relationships with communities and the exploration of unseen lives as exciting opportunities to create a richer world, rather than perpetuating a dated world view that doesn’t enrich the world we live in.

What can you tell us about your graduation film project?

I’m currently in post-production on Caterpillar, a drama about modern-day slavery. It follows a young Vietnamese boy who is held on a cannabis farm, with the film showing the complicated relationship he has with the person who keeps him there. It’s a project I first wrote back in 2014, but I’ve never had the opportunity to make it as it needed a lot of resources to come together. I’m really excited for people to begin watching it and to bring some exposure to a highly important subject.

What are your hopes for when you graduate from the NFTS?

In the short term after graduating, I’m going to look at how I can make myself become economically stable within the industry whilst developing my own feature film and television projects. In the medium to longer term I want to look at how I can make the pathway into the industry more accessible or at least seem more achievable because it is quite invisible to a lot of people as it stands. I left secondary school with two GCSEs and without positive role models I may not have ended up on this path, so I would like to look at mentoring or being involved in showing younger people the possibilities life has.

16 October - Celebrating Abigail Dankwa | Stage Manager | 2012 Olympics & Paralympics | Director | Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club
Abigail Dankwa
Abigail Dankwa, 2012 NFTS Directing & Producing TV Entertainment alumnus


“From being a Stage Manager on the London Olympics and Paralympics two months after I left the NFTS to series directing a prime time entertainment show is more than I could have imagined when I graduated.”

Named by the Edinburgh International Television Festival as a ‘One to Watch’ in 2017 with the potential to “go far in the TV industry”, Abigail is a multi-camera and fixed rig gallery director of studio shows, live events and ambitious TV productions.

Shortly after graduating from the NFTS, her specialism led to her taking on the floor and stage managing of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies.

She has been house director on both Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother and directed popular game shows Impossible and Tipping Point. Abigail recently directed Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club, her first prime time series and she has also studio directed the discussion elements of Rankin's 2020 for Sky Arts. Abigail has also worked on Sky’s Life & Rhymes, a celebration of the spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah and is gallery directing for the fifth consecutive year, on Channel 4’s award winning 24 Hours in A&E which will air in 2021.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

Being an alumni of the NFTS, coupled with my own persistence and support from great mentors, gave me a world of possibilities when entering the TV industry. From being a Stage Manager on the London Olympics and Paralympics opening and closing ceremonies two months after I left to series directing a prime time entertainment show for a national broadcaster this year, is more that I could have imagined when I graduated in 2012.

In what way did the Directing and Producing TV Entertainment MA in particular benefit you?

In my year on the Producing and Directing Entertainment Television MA, we produced, directed and production managed our graduate shows, so the hard work (and mistakes!) I made on that and throughout the course were valuable lessons. The other extremely important thing about the School is meeting like-minded individuals, who have a passion for their craft and want to entertain and educate others, supported by amazing staff. I'm truly grateful knowing I'll have those friendships for life.

15 October - Celebrating Trix Worrell | Writer, Director | What You Lookin' At?, Desmond's, For Queen and Country
Trix Worrell, 1986 NFTS Screenwriting Alumnus


“I knew that if I were to be taken seriously as a black filmmaker, I had to be trained by the best”

St Lucia born Trix Worrell is one of the most noteworthy black British television writers of his generation. After graduating from the NFTS in 1986 and having won Channel 4’s Debut Writers competition, Trix went on to create Desmond’s, Britain’s most successful Black sitcom.

He wrote and produced all seven series, a remarkable achievement both for the ongoing presence of Black representation within peak time television and also for a British comedy. So iconic and well-loved was the show, a clip from Desmond’s was featured in the ‘best of British TV’ segment at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. Ending in 1994, Desmond’s was followed by Porkpie, which ran for two series.

Trix went on to become highly sought after in Hollywood and his many screen credits include For Queen and Country starring Denzel Washington and The Young Americans starring Harvey Keitel and Thandie Newton. In 1998, Trix received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Television Society.

Trix will shortly launch new multi-platform production company, Distant Voices which will champion new writers and offer on the job behind-the-camera training. The first project out of the blocks will be a comedy drama with award-winning producer Barbara Emile.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

Attending the NFTS was, for me, amazing. There was only one film school I set my heart on getting into. I knew that if I were to be taken seriously as a black filmmaker, I had to be trained by the best. Because of its reputation, I also knew that graduating from the NFTS would be the start of a conversation with leading figures in the business.

In what way did the Screenwriting MA in particular benefit you?

Learning the language of film was the biggest benefit of the course for me.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

Currently, there is a lot of guilt associated with BLM, BAME, and diversity. If the broadcasters, distributors, and large film companies felt less of that, then and only then, we could sit down and have a serious conversation on how to increase diversity.

14 October - Celebrating Mary Waireri | NFTS Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice Diploma | Graduating 2021
Mary Waireri


“I hope the industry shifts from seeing diversity as box-ticking to being about simply representing the world we live in as it is and meaningfully connecting with audiences”

Mary Waireri is a current NFTS student of the Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice Diploma and will shortly be a new graduate making her way into the film and television industry. Here she tell us about her hopes for the future, how we can increase diversity and her own personal highlight of studying at the NFTS featuring the one and only directing legend, Steve McQueen!

What are your hopes for the future upon graduating?

I hope to be able to continue developing my portfolio, take my work into the industry and launch my career.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

I hope the industry shifts from seeing diversity as box-ticking to being about simply representing the world we live in as it is and meaningfully connecting with audiences.

What have been your highlight of studying at the NFTS?

Having weekly access to Masterclasses with incredible filmmakers outside of my course was amazing. My personal highlight was the session with Steve McQueen!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to the NFTS?

Do it! The tutors, resources and opportunities available to help you develop your craft are unparalleled.

13 October - Celebrating Ian Aryeh | Director| McDonald and Dodds, In the Long Run, 4 O'Clock Club
Ian Aryeh
Ian Aryeh, 2012 NFTS Directing & Producing TV Entertainment Alumnus


“Now more than ever is the time to nurture Black artists and Black talent in the creative industry. Variety is the spice of life and should only be celebrated”

An award winning director, Ian was selected as a Broadcast ‘Hotshot’ by the industry trade magazine in 2016 and is a resident director for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Showcase, working with a variety of new talent both behind and in front of the camera.

A recipient of the NFTS’ Toledo Scholarship, Ian is one of the youngest ever graduates of the School, with his graduate film Doubt on Loan shortlisted for the Student RTS Awards. Working across both comedy and drama, Ian has also directed a range of commercials. He recently directed the third series of the Sky One comedy In the Long Run created by Idris Elba and a brand new children’s comedy series Andy and the Band for the BBC.

He has several projects in development across film and television in the UK and US and will shortly direct a feature length episode of the ITV drama, McDonald and Dodds. Ian is known for his ability to deliver stories that are cinematic and textured, mixing his African heritage and London upbringing to bring his own unique voice to every production.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

With all that has happened this year, now more than ever is the time to nurture Black artists and Black talent in the creative industry and support of their contributions to the culture of life. To really make a difference we need pragmatism, not lip service from key decision makers. Now is the time for true purveyors of change who want to create rich stories from diverse storytellers. Take risks and support Black talent financially, mentally and creatively. I love working in the creative industry and I want to see more creatives and storytellers who look like me. Variety is the spice of life and should only be celebrated.

12 October - Celebrating Malorie Blackman | Writer | Noughts + Crosses, Pig Heart Boy, Doctor Who
Marlorie Blackman
Malorie Blackman, 1994 NFTS Screenwriting almuna


“Attending the NFTS truly was one of the defining periods of my life”

Malorie Blackman OBE is a celebrated author and screenwriter, having written over 70 books for children and young adults including the multi-award winning Noughts + Crosses series which was recently adapted for BBC One.

Malorie is widely acknowledged as one of today’s most imaginative and convincing writers for young readers and viewers who effortlessly addresses social and racial issues within her work.

In 2007, she edited Unheard Voices, an anthology of stories and poems to commemorate the bicentenary anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and in 2009 contributed to Free?, a book of stories celebrating human rights. The six part television adaptation of her moving book, Pig Heart Boy won a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama.

Malorie co-wrote the acclaimed Doctor Who civil rights themed episode Rosa which won TV Show of the Year for ‘making a positive social impact’ at the inaugural Visionary Honours in 2019. In 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature and was the Children’s Laureate between 2013 and 2015.

Malorie was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the NFTS in 2017. Malorie’s autobiography will be published by Stormzy’s publishing imprint #Merky Books and is due for release in 2022.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

I found the Screenwriting MA invaluable in terms of what I learned about the film and TV industries and the lessons I learned during my 18 months at the NFTS have never left me. Attending the NFTS truly was one of the defining periods of my life.

9 October - Celebrating Julius Amedume | Director | Rattlesnakes
Julius Amedume
Julius Amedume, 2010 NFTS Directing Fiction Alumnus


“When you give someone the opportunity to share how they see the world, it can only give us a better understanding of our shared human experience and the world we live in.”

Julius was awarded a Toledo Scholarship to study the NFTS Directing Fiction MA. During his time at the School, he wrote and directed four successful short films which were selected by festivals around the world. His graduation film, Precipice, won Best Short at the Pan African Film Festival 2011 and an African Oscar for Best Diaspora Short at the 2011 African Movie Academy Awards.

Julius was one of 18 students selected to help develop his graduation film into a feature. He was later selected from over 3,000 applicants for one of 12 places offered by Channel 4 to work with writers to create an original series or serial for television.

His 2019 psychological thriller, Rattlesnakes, won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Pan African Film Festival and won an Independent Film Production Spirit Award at the ScreenNation Film and Television Awards. Julius was also nominated for the Michael Anyiam Osigwe Award for Best African Director Living Abroad at the 2019 African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Nigeria. In 2019, Julius was invited to become a member of The Academy.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

The NFTS is the only place where you will be constantly surrounded by like-minded individuals who are as passionate about film as you are. My fellow classmates at the NFTS have turned into my major collaborators within the industry.

In what way did the Directing Fiction MA in particular benefit you?

The Directing Fiction course really helped me focus in on my craft and aided me with the tools needed to further my career within the industry. There isn’t another course that realistically prepares you to become a director more than this course at the NFTS.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

Unique stories that have universal themes and emotions, we still need unique storytellers to bring an authentic truth to those stories and characters. When you give someone the opportunity to share how they see the world, it can only give us a better understanding of our shared human experience and the world we live in.

8 October - Celebrating Nosa Eke | Writer, Director | Something in the Closet, The Grind
Nosa Eke
Nosa Eke, 2016 NFTS Creative Producing Alumna


“The NFTS introduced me to the people who I would either work alongside or companies I would create work for in the future”

Nosa describes herself as a ‘platform agnostic’, acting as a storyteller across varying platforms. Since graduating from the NFTS in 2015, Nosa has written an interactive narrative mobile experience, which led to being featured within Apple’s app store as one of ‘Britain’s Next Level Gaming Talent’ in 2018. She has also written an episodic series on Amazon’s Alexa for the BBC and her short film, Something in the Closet, had its world premiere at the London Film Festival in 2019.

Nosa was picked for the 2018 BFI Flare/BAFTA mentorship programme where she shadowed director Wayne Yip on the Christmas special of BBC’s Doctor Who. The following year, she also shadowed director Destiny Ekaragha on Season 2 of End Of The F***ing World.

Nosa was chosen as a 2019 Trailblazer by Accenture and TCOLondon for her work in the cross-section between technology and storytelling. This year, she was selected as a Film London Lodestar, one of the emerging talents nominated to create and inspire future works in the industry. Nosa is currently writing and directing an AR feature film which is in development with the BFI and StoryFutures Academy, run by the NFTS and Royal Holloway, University of London.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

My NFTS course essentially gave me an early co-sign to the industry I was about to enter.

In what way did the Creative Producing for Digital Platforms Diploma in particular benefit you?

One of the many benefits of my NFTS course was that during my studies at the School, my work was constantly being put in front of the leading figures of my industry for pitching and feedback. Not only did this help to give me a foundation to be able to effectively and creatively get my ideas across at any pitch I had in the future, but it also introduced me to the people who I would either work alongside or companies I would create work for in the future.

7 October - Celebrating Toní Adepegba | Camera Operator | Sky Sports, Sky News, Portrait & Landscape Artist of the Year
Toni Adepegba
Toní Adepegba, 2016 NFTS Cameras for TV Production Alumnus

“Representation is crucial across all levels if we're going to see any positive change when it comes to diversity.”

Toní graduated from the NFTS Camera, Sound and Vision Mixing Diploma in 2016. The course is run in partnership with Sky and allows students to specialise in cameras, sound or vision mixing. Toni pursued cameras and since graduating has been working at Sky, starting as a Camera Assistant before moving on to become a Camera Operator & Jib Operator on a variety of different studio shows including news and sports in addition to doing portable single camera and OB (outside broadcast) work.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity?

I'm currently in an industry where in 2020, there's still not a lot of people who look like me. My hope and vision is that we can get to that place where black and brown people are not only properly represented in this industry, but are also taking up senior exec roles, especially when it comes to making key decisions on what sort of content is put out to the general public. The sad but harsh reality is that the TV and media industry are, to an extent, to blame for their part in fuelling racism in this country. Representation is crucial across all levels if we're going to see any positive change when it comes to diversity.

6 October - Celebrating Victoria Thomas | Producer/Director | Born in New York, Raised in Paris. Creator of Cues (App)
Victoria Thomas
Victoria Thomas, 2015 NFTS Creative Business Alumna


Confidence to be myself, trust my instinct, choose my slate based on my vision, press on with the work and let go of detractors are some of the many soft skills I picked up that I will forever be grateful for.”

Victoria Thomas is an award winning and BAFTA nominated British filmmaker working across fiction and documentary. With a passion for politics and comedy, her films tend to combine both, often using satire to comment on socio-political dynamics. Victoria has been previously selected for Berlinale Talents and Jihlava Documentary Film Festival’s Emerging Producers programme.

Her screenplay, Street Food, is one of the winners of The Writers Lab, a programme backed by Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey and hosted by New York Women in Film and Television. Street Food has also been selected for EAVE and IFP Week 2020.

Victoria’s short screenplay House Party is one of nine films selected for Sharp Shorts, a new film talent initiative delivered by Film City Futures with Glasgow Film, and supported by Screen Scotland and the BFI. She is currently in post production with her documentary Born in New York, Raised in Paris which chronicles the role of hip hop in protesting and highlighting police brutality in France.

In what way did the Creative Business for Executives and Entrepreneurs (CBEE) MA in particular benefit you?

I did the CBEE MA because I felt that it was important as a creative to understand the business I wanted to spend my professional life in. I don’t think it is a coincidence that since graduating, my slate has progressed in its development quicker and in the right direction because I became so much more in tune with the skills required to survive.

Today, I am pressing on with the post production of my documentary Born In New York, Raised In Paris. It’s a labour of love I started five years ago when police brutality was not such a hot topic and luckily, Screen Scotland has backed me to get to the finish line. Today and quite serendipitously, the topic has become very relevant but nothing changed for me because I was in tune with those realities before it became a headline.

That confidence to be myself, trust my instinct, choose my slate based on my vision, press on with the work and let go of detractors, are some of the many soft skills I picked up during the course that I will forever be grateful for.

Final places remain on the incredible course that Victoria studied at the NFTS!
Find out more about how you could start following in her footsteps as soon as Jan 2021 here: nfts.co.uk/cbee

5 October - Celebrating Segun Akinola | Composer | Doctor Who, The Last Tree, Black and British: A Forgotten History
Segun Akinola
Segun Akinola, NFTS Composing Alumnus


“The NFTS is such a special environment, one in which you can learn from absolutely anyone.”

A BAFTA Breakthrough Brit 2017, Segun is a composer for film and television. Having learnt the piano and drums from a young age, Segun is best known for scoring the recent series of Doctor Who, starring the first female Doctor, in addition to the critically acclaimed VR experience, Doctor Who: The Runaway.

Meeting as students at the NFTS, Segun collaborated with fellow graduate and writer-director Shola Amoo on his first feature film, A Moving Image before going on to compose the critically acclaimed The Last Tree which premiered at the Sundance Festival and earned him a ‘Discovery of the Year’ nomination at the World Soundtrack Awards. Segun’s other work includes scoring BBC Two’s landmark four-part series Black and British: A Forgotten History, written and presented by historian David Olusoga OBE. Regularly collaborating on BBC projects, he completed the scores for the major three-part series The Human Body: Secrets of Your Life Revealed and two-part series Expedition Volcano, both for BBC Two and PBS.

In what way did the NFTS Composing MA benefit you?

Whatever your specialism may be when you start at the NFTS, the truth is that by the time you leave, you’re a filmmaker. That’s certainly how I felt because I noticed once I’d left that I was reading film/TV in a different way, I was taking in even more than I had been previously. What’s so great about the School is that this isn’t just down to the classes but also the other students I met whilst there. It’s such a special environment, one in which you can learn from absolutely anyone.

2 October - Celebrating Christiana Ebohon-Green | Director | Grantchester, Call The Midwife, Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle
Christiana Ebohon-Green
Christiana Ebohon-Green, NFTS Directing Fiction Alumna 1998


“The NFTS provided me with excellent training and a solid foundation to begin my career as a director.”


Christiana is an award-winning drama director, selected for the BAFTA Elevate 2017 scheme to promote female directors. She graduated from the NFTS Directing Fiction course in 1998. Over the last 20 years, Christiana has directed a wide array of dramas for a range of UK broadcasters including The Mallorca FilesGrantchester, Soon Gone: A Windrush ChronicleCall the Midwife, Father BrownHolby City, Doctors, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale. She has also directed a number of short films, including Some Sweet Oblivious Antidote starring Sir Lenny Henry which was long listed for the 2018 BAFTA Awards. She is currently focusing on high end drama and feature films. 

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

The NFTS provided me with excellent training and a solid foundation to begin my career as a director.

Tell us about your vision for the industry and how we can increase diversity? 

I hope that we continue to address the lack of diversity within the industry and champion inclusion going forward. It is not a level playing field.

1 October - Celebrating Ronald Bailey | Sound Mixer | Small Axe, Pennyworth, Poldark
Ronald Bailey
Ronald Bailey, NFTS Location Sound Diploma Alumnus, 1987


“The networking opportunities at the NFTS were invaluable. I still know and work with many of my contemporaries”

An RTS winner, BAFTA and CAS (Cinema Audio Society) member, Production Sound Mixer Ronald Bailey graduated from the Location Sound Diploma in 1987 (then called Sound Post Production).

Ronald has worked on a huge variety of films and television dramas including BBC One’s Poldark and Death in Paradise. In 2019 he was nominated for a 2019 RTS Craft and Design Award for his work on Channel 4’s Pure. Ronald’s most recent credits include DC origin story Pennyworth and the five part anthology Small Axe directed by Steve McQueen. The highly anticipated series stars Black Panther's Letitia Wright and Star Wars John Boyega and is due to premiere on Amazon Prime and BBC One from November. The series title come from a Jamaican proverb which has resonance throughout the Caribbean. “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe,” meaning relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful voices.

Ronald is a member of the newly formed Black Sound Society (www.blacksoundsociety.org) which provides a network for advice to support those already established in the industry as well as offering help and guidance to the next generation of black sound technicians.

How did attending the NFTS help your career?

The networking opportunities at the School were invaluable - I still know and work with many of my contemporaries. It was also great to be able to concentrate on learning both the theoretical and practical aspects of sound recording, sound design and post production in a supportive environment.

In what way did the Location Sound Diploma in particular benefit you?

The course encouraged me to work on different types of filming that included drama as well as documentary and in various technical departments before focusing on sound, which in turn allowed me to obtain a more holistic understanding of the film making process. Because the course was taught by practitioners, we were given an insight into the reality of the industry before we entered it.

As the UK's national film and television school, it's our mission to seek out home grown British talent and to help it flourish. Having established our Anti-Racism Commitment (Read more here: nfts.co.uk/nfts-anti-racism-commitment), Black History Month is an important juncture for us to create a space to both celebrate and address issues within the industry. The alumni featured have shared their stories and experiences and we hope that by recognising their many achievements, it will inspire and motivate those keen to follow in their footsteps and make their own unique mark on the industry.

Similarly, we are very proud to highlight some of our Black graduating students during October. It has been a joy to nurture and guide them to ensure they reach their full potential. They are entering the industry at a critical time. It is our hope that they will help remove some of the barriers facing Black and minority ethnic people, paving the way for a more multi-racial UK film, television and games industry for future generations. 

With the NFTS due to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2021, we have outlined the steps we are taking to effect meaningful and lasting change. We want an NFTS that reflects the full diversity of our country. Showcasing what some of our Black students and alumni have accomplished whilst at the NFTS and after graduating provides a valuable insight into their journey and the role the School has played in helping them achieve their goals. 

At the NFTS our mantra is ‘Our Credits Tell The Story’ and we hope that throughout Black History Month you will join with us to honour our alumni and students from a School where all should feel welcomed, valued and celebrated for many more years to come.