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Tanya Vital's Blog

Sunday, 20 September 2015


Flash-mob doesn't always run Smoothly!

Our favourite thing ever - flash-mobbing in Leeds
Doesn't always runs quite so smoothly though!!


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Being a Black Actor in the North

VITAL Voices - Leeds Inspired

A link to the blog post I wrote for Leeds Inspired and Get Seen Showcase

Leeds Inspired

Sustained Theatre Artists Yorkshire (STAY), an organisation which has been developed to support and provide a platform for diverse artists in the region, have a showcase event taking place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the 20th of July and ahead of the event, one of the selected performers, Tanya Vital has given us an insight into what it's like being a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Et

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


 Hamlet Act 2 Sc 2 - Chicken Shop Shakespeare Style!

Here's Hamlet's famous speech - 'What a piece of work is a man' aptly filmed in Leeds City Centre on a late Friday night. Enjoy!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Hey y'all!

Guess what comes up when you Google "Yorkshire people"?

Guess What comes up when you Google Black Yorkshire Smiley

Google Search

I recently went to the brilliant Act For Change event at The National Theatre. I was so excited because I missed the launch last year and being back up north doesn't make it easy or cheap to get about. I booked my tickets super early and cancelled the diary, because come hell or high water I was going!

I wasn't sure what to expect because us BAME'rs have been to every diversity debate known to man. However I went with an open heart and mind. (See Drama School taught me something!)

Here's the full footage of the event c/o Act For Change if you missed it.

It was interesting, harrowing, scary, disappointing, heartbreaking, liberating and brilliant all in one but, one thing that stuck out and has been a bone of contention of mine for a long time - that led me to write this blog was...

Just how London-centric our idea of diversity is

Chris Bryant the Labour MP and now Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was on the panel and he made a point at 55:00 on-wards, that theatre/arts outside of London is in danger and that 90% of  arts sponsorship is all spent in London. He made some other comments - some of them silly but, the 1st point was not. 

90% of all Arts Sponsorship is spent in London 

This is worrying for all of us in the regions and has been a worry since the last coalition Government, where many regional theatre companies had their entire arts council funding removed and in turn folded. This blow was even harder for the very few black/minority lead regional theatre groups who now no longer exist at all.

With all this talk of "diversity", "representation" and "quotas", you'd think that we were on the road to recovery in the arts, that BAME'rs were finally being heard and taken seriously and progression was on the way. I actually think we are on the precipice of change but we MUST be careful!

I found an alarming trend that has plagued me throughout my career. It affects every part of the industry when it comes to BAME artists/workers in the entertainment industry and is getting worse;

When we talk about diversity in the arts 
we often mean BAME London.

There is belief held by many people of power in the arts, that there are no good artists outside of London. It is said to people in the regions time and time again as if it were a gospel truth. This means anybody of any notable excellence (in their eyes) is only based in London.

 I know this to be wholly preposterous because A) I'm excellent and in Yorkshire  Hair Flipping Emoticon and B) I know other excellent artists also here in the north. This idea becomes especially solidified when they think and talk about BAME artists, particularity ethnic artists and even more so BAME females.

I've lived in London on and off for ages and I consider it as much my home as I do Yorkshire but, ethnic artists are usually not considered at all if they are not from London. Regional theatres, time and time again 'buy in' ethnic artists from the south. If there is ever an "urban", (you know I hate that word) part then 9/10 times the artist will be brought up from the south.

*Disclaimer - northern BAME artists can do "urban" too   we can also do accents and everything its ace!

It's almost inconceivable if you will, that someone of a darker skin tone would have this accent, or Geordie or Scottish for that matter (Shouts out to Siu). Brown in this country (on screen and in gentrified minds), usually means a London vernacular, so in return, BAME northerners are almost never used in the south. 

As I've mentioned in Change Your AccentQuintessential Britain and Y'up Mush! - "Buht buht buht, ducks - buht buht buht faahrms" (the phonetic sound of my glorious mother tongue) is never shown unless it's shown in a fetishised, quintessential idea of Yorkshire/The north. BAME north almost doesn't exist on screen or stage and yet its ALWAYS existed! Check out Joe Williams and Heritage Corner

This saddening state of affairs was made even clearer to me when I recently had an issue I wanted to take to the Minority Ethnic Members (MEM) Committee of the Equity Union. Each of the committee members were based in London. I also didn't see all of the wonderful BAME artists I know from the north at the Act For Change event. (This isn't about allocating blame it's just an observation that we are quite marginalised up here which, I believe, is leading to a complete disconnect to the industry). Many artists in the North - BAME or not, do not feel that they are taken into consideration by the industry.

It's important that national publicly funded theatres and creative establishments (especially the regionals!) take into account the whole country and not just London. I get it - it's easy to forget when you're actually IN London (as Rufus almost did in the video), that there is another world but we are here.

You see it's a bit like Game of Thrones in essence and here's why:

  • Winter is coming - The Arts cuts are going to hit us all HARD
  • Winterfell/Casterly Rock/Kings Landing - are all on their arse without the allies of the north
  • Jon Snow (The love of my life) is holding an olive branch - we must work together

I am doing what I can. I am trying to get more involved with the Yorkshire Ridings General Branch of Equity. I'm trying even harder to get more involved with the (MEM) Committee of the Equity. I do try to write my own material. I am trying to be the change I want to see and there are many. many more like me, especially Anamaria at CidaCo, George at Sustained Theatre Arts Yorkshire and Stephanie at West Yorkshire Theatre Network.

All we ask is that when you talk about diversity
you don't leave us out

Stiff Drink for whoever translates the most of these sayings!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

What Does it Take to Make it in Soaps?

 I throw my 2 pence worth into this article by Industry Careers Adviser; John Byrne in The Stage News 

(C) Tanya Vital Emmerdale

To see how far ‘soap opera’ has developed from its origins in 1930's American radio, where daily domestic dramas sold the detergents and other cleaning products to a very narrowly (and patronisingly) defined audience of ‘ordinary housewives’, one needs only to look at the four million to eight million viewers across a very wide demographic that an average episode of any of the top prime time UK soaps pulls in today...

Read the rest here

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Your Showreel's Too Long!

So what constitutes as a good showreel? 

I think the main point to remember here is that fashion, taste, style and personal preference changes all the time and it is the same for Casting Directors. There are many more Casting Directors and Assistant Casting Directors working now than ever before. They are younger and they have grown up with the digital age, so their personal preferences about edit and music style will be very different to their seasoned counterparts.

However one thing is a universal truth. Casting Directors are extremely busy. They do not have the time to sit and watch every actor's showreel from start to finish, that would just take forever. Average showreel length 5 minutes x 5 Actors = almost 1/2 hour of a very busy day. Not gonna happen.

My last showreel was edited at the time when it was popular to create promo videos. The fast editing, the montage and the fast music. My editor (Richard from Take 5 Studios) is excellent! He gave me exactly what I asked for but threw some of his own artistic vision in there too. I loved my showreel...

But it was damaging! 

  • I chose popular music of the time - which becomes quickly dated (not to mention really annoying). Choose something generic

  • The montage took up too much time - Casting Directors just want to see you act. That's it
  • Ask Amy Hubbard of Hubbard Casting what she thinks of montages - I dare ya!
  • The scenes were ok, they showed a good range of work but the tone again became quickly dated - largely due to the soundtrack etc. I needed a more mature tone.
  • It was too long - It scraped 5 minutes. Technology has changed, our attention span for watching content online tops at 60 seconds. Hopefully a Casting Director will take a little longer to watch your reel but how do you know? 
  • Keep it to the point with whatever you feel are your best scenes at the front.

I'll test the waters with this new cut and let you know what happens

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Acting Secrets I Never Knew!

Ever wanted to know the secrets of Cannes? Ever wondered how to get involved with some of the great influencers in the UK? Look no further because fellow northern creative Tommi Murshed recently spilled the beans and I have to admit even I didn't know some of this stuff!


In his recent blog: 
  • He mentions why financiers, producers and directors all love the Galway Film Fleadh.
  • He tells us great places to network
  • About showreels
  • AND... He talks Cannes!


"Now some will say that you should go to Cannes only if you have a film. But as a thespian pal recently said, 'to get many a decent auditions, you need someone of influence to say ‘I know someone who would be great for the role’”. 
And there you have it." 

To read these wonderful jewels of knowledge please click here

(Thank him and tell him I sent you) 

Monday, 9 February 2015


Read anything to do with news, marketing and psychology. it won't take you long to realise that we read/engage with/click-on/buy more things with negative headlines. Outrage sells and as smart as I think I am and as media savvy, I still fall victim to basic marketing bait every now and again.

 This time it was ...

This actor Katie Redford, was sacked by the well known TV Soap because it turns out that 'she had lied' about her real age. The actor had apparently auditioned as a 19 year old and was to play 14 but, is/was actually 25. The actor had been given the role but, hadn't filmed any scenes yet. However it was apparently an online community ...

... that had managed to find Katie's CV and revealed her true age and the actor was unfortunately released.

It's all very Miss Marple is it not? Well no not really - you see actors 'lie' ALL THE TIME. Its funny you know, we even have a cute little name for it, its called - brace yoursen's...


The whole fiasco is a complete joke on every side to be honest. I completely understand that legally if Katie had fabricated a birth date on her contract, she was most certainly in breach. If she had been asked and told the Casting Director, again muddy ground but, potentially also in breach of verbal contract - which is a sackable offence. I get it.

But here's the thing, if she got past round 1,2 and 3 without anybody being any wiser - was she really hurting anyone? Actors either blatantly lie or dance around the issue of age ALL THE TIME. Appearance is such a subjective thing and if companies are going to be worrying about an actor's real age from now on and actors playing real 'this and that' - every actor in the UK/Europe/World is screwed, especially me!!

I will NEVER be able to play my real age (never say never but, black don't crack). You see I'm actually 75 with a really good cleanse/tone/moisturise regime. 

No seriously all jokes aside I'm a fully grown woman who still get's I.D'd for things like alcohol, lottery tickets ... lighters. The funniest thing about it is being I.D'd for not looking 25 - for something you only have to be 18 years old to buy - mental.

It's a gift and a curse. Whilst I'm glad my eye bags don't need a sports bra just yet, the downside is people don't take you seriously (if they don't know you). You get talked down to (my height doesn't help that). You are, for the most part treat like a child in the outside world. So I'm gonna take that and expect to be offered roles that follow suit. 

However when asked your age, automatically it's like 'uh-uh you can't play that then'. 'Uhmm lady - you just thought I was 12 - let me play the goddamn 12 year old and go about my business mmkay? You just asked me if I wanted bot-bot - don't tell me I'm now too old for Primary School!'

You know it's actually illegal in the US to ask an actor their age and rightly so. It's technically ageism. (Hark at her - you can tell I'm ancient banging on about ageism). But seriously, if someone puts on their CV they're Japanese and doesn't get the job because they're Japanese - courts can get involved. If someone says they're Catholic and doesn't get the job because of that - same thing. But this is and will forever continue to be one of the grey areas in Entertainment (See what I did there?).

I will NEVER forget a few years ago I was at a casting and in the same building they were casting, what was to be a HUGE TV series. I'm a nosey git so I was like 'Oh what's goin on in here then?' The Casting Director came out and told me what it was and asked very swiftly but enthusiastically, after eyeing me up and down "How old are you?". I told her my age and in that very second I was immediately dead to her (and my age wasn't even that far from the mark then!)

I learnt that day, if EVVVVHUAH I'm asked my age - I will make it as difficult and painful as possible before I'm forced to give it up. 

You won't make me talk myself out of a job EVER again...

You'll never take me alive!



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