The past four years have been wild for me really. I left school in 2014 and started modelling full time, which was amazing because of the travel and the network it allowed me to grow, as well as having some incredible jobs and experiences; sky diving in South Africa, chasing sunsets in Arizona, doing a runway show across the largest Sumo arena in Tokyo. It also came with it’s own baggage, mental exhaustion and body image issues being the most prominent if I’m honest, as well as the feeling that I wasn’t chasing what I truly wanted, which was to tell stories, about things that matter to me.
"Mental illness is something that throughout my life has become something I feel incredibly strongly about…”
So, in 2016, I decided to relax my modelling career and do acting alongside (which I’ve been doing on and off since I was a kid really). I also started making my own films. It’s been going really well for me and it’s been amazing to explore these issues that are important to me through film as a medium. The first indie feature I acted in, To Tokyo, looks at how young women deal with sexual assault, has just started its festival circuit run and I’ve found it incredibly humbling to attend screenings and hear from the audience that they find something in it that moves them. It reassures me that, this is something I want to continue to take seriously and invest my time in.
So far that the most overwhelming response I’ve had was in regards to, my latest short film as a director, All The World’s A Stage. This was an deeply personal project, as the narrative of the short film, is based on a poem that a friend of mine from my hometown in Dorset wrote, in response to a friend of ours that died by suicide.
Mental illness is something that throughout my life has become something I feel incredibly strongly about, not only because of personal losses, but also because I’ve seen first hand how the industries I work in can put enormous pressure onto people, that can twist their view they have of themselves and hurt their lives, and I guess it’s just made me want to try and do something to help in some small way. So yeah, I turned my friend Charlie’s poem into a screenplay, and put up and Indiegogo to crowdfund the budget for the film and with the help of some wonderful people we drew together an amazing team, including Olivia Colman and the guys at Abbey Road Studios, who all volunteered their time helped make my film a reality.
“I’ve seen first hand how the industries I work in can put enormous pressure onto people"
We released it online earlier this year, during Mental Health Awareness Week alongside as many suicide prevention hotlines we could find, for the UK and beyond at www.atwasfilm.co.uk. And it’s just been incredibly moving, with the amount of personal responses I got, on Instagram or whatever, people opening up about their struggles or friends that they’ve lost. It’s got really overwhelming at times, because I’m still processing my own emotions, but I feel very humbled that people feel able to reach out. I guess it’s encouraging to know that it’s making an impact and that people are beginning to feel comfortable speaking to others about these feelings, because I think that in itself can be a release. And that was always the aim, to start a conversation.
There’s been support come through from some bigger institutions too, which has been wonderful because I think that so often we write these places off as heartless, but when it comes down to it, they still have humans at the core of them, with human wants and pains. For example, the Dorset branch of the NHS have been hugely supportive, and have spoken about incorporating the film into their suicide prevention training, and then, on the entertainment side of things, we’ve had huge film institutions like Raindance and the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood showcase the film, which is amazing as the bigger film festivals normally avoid films that are available to stream online. It’s really touching to have these institutions back the project, and it makes the future seem more hopeful.
The year ahead looks just as busy as the one I’m moving on from, and it’s exciting to see that I’m going to be able to spend more time doing what’s important to me. I’ve got a feature in development that deals with mental health and what it means to be a young woman in today’s society that I cannot wait to get started on, it’s gonna be so cool to take what I’ve learnt from To Tokyo and All The World’s A Stage and develop those skills further, and I guess just continue to try to raise awareness about things that matter.
white dress - Thomas Tait
jumper and trousers - Lou Dalton
floral dress - Edition
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