Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Talent scout/Casting agent Ms Dorothy with ears and eyes for great talent
1) Tell our readers what you do for those not familiar with who are you and what do you do.
I am a talent scout and online casting agent. My clients require artistes for various projects whether it is in fashion, TV or the music industry. This also includes reality stars for scripted shows. I usually send out a casting to my contacts and online on talent directories and social networks. I short list the prospective candidates and send the most appropriate to my clients. As a talent scout I am also required to attend various shows or live events to find raw talent for clients for future projects. London is so varied that there is always a chance you will find a diamond in the ruff. If I was to put it simply, I am a middle man between clients in show business who produce work and the artistes who perform/showcase. However this is NOT to be confused with a personal agent or manager or publicist which people confuse me with often. I also don’t work in films, it’s just a personal choice. I prefer to concentrate on TV shows, fashion and music.
Apart from people in show business I am also privileged that high ranking diplomats and members of high society ask me to provide them with entertainment for their high profile events. My highlight was providing a choir for the international memorial for Sir Richard Carr-Gomm (OBE ) at Southwark Cathedral attended by royalty and celebrities. The management of Southwark Cathedral said it was the best memorial event ever held at Southwark Cathedral. I am also a Gold Member of the London Diplomatic Association in London which is very exclusive.
In October 2011, I also became a show business blogger for the London Guru Blog www.london-guru.blogspot.com/
2) What do you look for when scouting for new talent?
I look for a naturally talented people but also I admire people who train hard to reach a standard of talent they may not have naturally. When I have established that they have talent or at least potential then I look for confidence, self assurance and self belief. I also want someone with a hunger for success. Then finally they must have the right attitude as well as full confidence and trust in those who are guiding the career in a professional capacity.
I personally don’t care if the person can sing like Mariah Carey, dance like Michael Jackson or strut like Kate Moss, if they have a bad attitude and don’t listen – I wash my hands off them. I know what I am talking about as I have been in this industry since I was a kid as a performer, in production since University and now I am an established executive and have the experience, contacts and know-how. I have great instincts for talent and predicting trends. If artistes can’t behave professionally or respect my opinion then I wave goodbye and wish them well on their OWN!
3) What words best describe you as a person?
I am a free spirit, full of life and very kind natured. You can’t put me in a box because I like being different and doing different things
4) What is one thing you can’t leave the house without?
A self help/motivational book. It is important for me to learn something new that improves me as a person. Unfortunately I can’t concentrate on a hard hitting book or novel that needs attention when I am on the move, but a few words of wisdom here and there each day empower me. I hang around long hours on closed sets so a good read is necessary.
5) What are your thoughts on Little Mix, the winners of the Xfactor 2011?
I have always wanted a group to win the Xfactor, because I managed a band called The Gemstones on Xfactor 2008 when JLS did so well. So I have a soft spot for Xfactor groups. I am absolutely delighted that Little Mix won because they are different, very current and appeal to boys and girls. They were not the most talented vocally and need some work but they can do very well. They are like the Spice Girls for the new generation. I also like the fact that they are not styled to look like a typical girl band who usually look like catwalk models. They look young, fresh, and urban chic and a lot of young people will identify with them. I feel bad that Little Mix did not get the anticipated Xmas Number 1, but I feel it was more important for the Military Wives to top the charts and raise charity funds. The country needs that kind of inspiration and to show thanks to the troops. I wish Little Mix the best of luck in their career.
6) Are you single/married/in a relationship?
Hahaha I am single at the moment. I am very ambitious career wise and have many dreams I want to achieve and it would have to take a special person to get me to sacrifice my dreams. Or at least someone in the industry who shares the same interests so I would not have to give up what I do. That’s all I am going to say for now :)
7) What goes through your mind when you see someone who is not cutting it but family keeps telling them how amazing they are?
I feel gutted as I feel they may be wasting that someone’s time in the wrong career while they may have other skills that could prove very successful in the right profession. I knew when my career as a performer was over and decided to concentrate on working creatively behind the scenes. Last year I had the parent of a young girl phone me and shout at me on the phone when she was not selected. She was saying they had been told how wonderful her daughter was and I was wrong. Truth is she had no stage presence to start with so needed work on that. She had some talent but needed further development and at that time there were at least 5 other girls who were much better. Indeed 2 of the girls I put through came 1st and 2nd in the talent show. So I was right!
8) How can someone who lives on the other side of the world view your work?
Unfortunately this is not something that is possible. My scouting and casting work is obviously work in progress for clients. I get the brief from my clients, post it online anonymously, short list the talent and send it back to the clients. Work at this stage is always confidential unless “specifically” stated otherwise. The difficulty is that what I do is tied up in confidentiality agreements sometimes indefinitely or until the work is completed. So unfortunately I can only discuss work with people who work with me directly already or 3rd parties who have signed a confidentiality agreement. Social networking and SKYPE has allowed me to communicate with people globally and have discussed various projects with industry people from abroad. The people who designed my logos are based in Tampa Bay and Hawaii. I am also discussing a script for a movie with a Hollywood executive for 2013 whom I came upon online. It’s looking good.
9) Describe your fashion sense?
This makes me smile as I don’t think I have a fashion sense. I mix and match clothes and accessories bought from different places – high street, charity shops and many markets in London. I like wearing clothes that no one else has and prefer to shop in Europe when I can. I grew up in Europe so I have family and friends there that I visit. I actually go with an empty suitcase and shop like mad. When I attend Diplomatic events I have to be conservative as you can so easily offend.
I am however known for my big hair – I love experimenting with wigs and weaves. I went to the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a big curly brown weave with very Orange high lights. The TV crews there went crazy, I was being stopped all the time.
10) What inspired you to become a talent scout?
I was performing after I came back to the UK in 2002 for a while and whatever projects I was involved in they always had people letting them down. As I am a very helpful person, sometimes I would call people I knew to see if they could help out. Fortunately I knew lots of people who were equally professional and reliable as myself so I impressed the executives. Eventually the people I worked with regularly would follow up and ask again if I could send over more reliable people. It felt good to be trusted like that. I then thought maybe this was something I was good at and could do full time. I researched the profession and found a book on Amazon by Ruthie O’Grant “Show Biz Kids” one of the best talent scouts and agent in Hollywood. This book changed my life! Ruthie O’Grant had even trained as a lawyer like me and her book revealed there was a large number of talent scouts and agents in Hollywood who used to be lawyers. Ruthie O’Grant’s book is very informative and gives practical advice. I followed the advice and tips and very soon I was working with kids for children’s TV and bands on music videos. My first 2 bookings were big! I managed to book Monica, a 15 year old fashion designer on special edition of hit UK magazine show “This Morning” and she was featured heavily and later commissioned to dress a celebrity. I then managed to book Lydia, a child presenter to present a show on popular channel Nickelodeon. However I had to move on from children’s TV because it was not commercially viable as children’s interests diminish over time and parents can get apprehensive. I successfully made the transition to working with adults. I find it very thrilling when I discover someone and give them their first big break.
11) NAME A FEW UPCOMING PEOPLE YOU THINK WILL MAKE IT BIG IN THE INDUSTRY?
I just interviewed a band recently called Dorian Graze. They are the breakthrough British band of 2011 and they are incredible. They got signed to Ingeny Music Label and are going to be really big in 2012. I also have a lot of faith in my own scouted talent, a 10 year old called Tyriek Clement who is going to be one of the biggest RnB artistes in the UK. Even at that young age he is confident, knows what he wants and he can SING! In fashion I recently interviewed and booked on the Sporah show, haute couture model – Harriadnie Beau. This girl is going to be dominating the British fashion industry very soon and then the world. She is stunning, very humble, and media savvy already. Also designers already love Harriadneu Beau and she is the face of 3 designer labels and two of them have named a dress after her.
12) What do you say to someone who you think just doesn’t have what it takes?
I hate wasting time so I have to give them the brutal truth. If they are young I try to be as sensitive as possible. I will tell them I can’t personally work with them and wish them the best whatever they decide. I don’t have the time or resources to invest in someone who doesn’t have what it takes. I won’t tell them to give up if they really want it bad because it’s their life and their dream. After all they could get lucky and succeed. If they are hard working and professional and I feel they have the skills or potential in other areas in show business such as producing, styling etc I will refer them to someone who can give them the opportunity.
13) Name one person who you admire and why?
This is a difficult one because I admire different people for different attributes and truly believe I have been inspired by so many. I will have to give you 3 names;
Oprah Winfrey for becoming such a huge success in show business and overcoming a childhood full of terrible abuse. She is one of the most influential celebrities globally and has used her status to help others. I was a human rights lawyer for children so I love the fact that children surviving abuse can look at her and believe they can overcome their terrible childhood too. She has also reached the heights of success at a level which had previously been difficult for women andpeople of colour. So she paved the way for others to succeed.
Ms Wangari Maathai (nickname Mama Miti) – Environmental and political activist and first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She changed the path of politics and environmental policies in Kenya with the Green Belt Movement. I personally worked with her when I was a human rights campaigner, as my organisation exchanged training and skills with the Green Belt Movement. I feel very privileged to have met and worked with such a heroine and a good example of Africa that is rarely shown in Western media.
Anthony Robbins – One of the leading self help authors and motivational speakers. I love his books and have been to one of his seminars in London. This man makes you believe that you can do anything and he started me on my motivational journey in life. I dream big because of people like him. We get so many people telling us what we can’t achieve in life, therefore I am glad people like Anthony Robbins can pass on his wisdom and power of self activation. World leaders seek his guidance and I dare anyone to go to his seminars and not feel inspired.
14) What are your views on Simon Cowell?
I think he is a living God. He is the main reason why I have stayed single, just in case I have a small chance (joking!). I love that he can say what he wants and get away with it and has made millions out of it. He is also primarily a talent scout (A & R Executive) for Sony BMG Records, the TV judge persona he is famous for is a different aspect of him which he came into later in life. When it comes to knowing talent, he gets it right most of the time, but like anyone he is human and makes mistakes. He says it himself he regrets passing on The Spice Girls and Take That. Of course if Simon Cowell makes a mistake it is magnified in the media and over shadows his successes. The rest of us can get away with moving on very quickly with our mistakes. I have Simon Cowell’s book which I read over and over and always tell music industry protégées to pick up a copy as well if they want to learn about the pop music industry.
I have actually met Simon Cowell and he really liked me, he actually said on camera he thought I was attractive and he was impressed by my talent scout abilities. My band the Gemstones and I, did a calendar with Simon Cowell. He was asked to choose his favourite calendar girl. He chose me as Miss August. I have a photo of me and Simon with my section of the calendar. It’s hilarious!
15) What are your connections within the industry?
Not quite sure what you are looking for so I will answer in two fold. I come from a family who have been big in broadcast media for 2 generations. My grandfather owned the first big independent media company in East Africa in the 50s. My great aunt worked for BBC world service in London in the 50s and my uncle followed in the 60s working for BBC World Service London and the United States Information Services (USIS) in Africa. That was very unusual for that era. We still own a newspaper and media consultancy company in East Africa.
Otherwise currently I am very honoured to have met some A-List personalities and celebrities through my charity work and show business. I worked with Oscar winning actress Susan Sarandon during a UNICEF child immunisation project and Grammy nominated Swedish singer/songwriter Robyn for the Special Children’s Assembly at the United Nations. I have worked with A-Listers such as Gordon Ramsay (TV Chef), Ant & Dec (TV Presenters), Alan Carr (TV Presenter), Paul Mckenna (TV Personality) and have many more in my database. I am also in touch with members of several bands in the UK charts who were up and coming in the early days when I worked on their music videos.
There are also some well known celebrities that I consider as personal friends like Priscilla Morcrette (French Fashion Model turned adventurer), Rachel Christie (Former Miss England & athlete), Johny Pach (TV Presenter), Sporah (Chat Show Host), Nana Afua Antwi (Top Model of Colour UK, Designer), Colin Campbell Austin (Executive, Channel 4), Stuart Phillips (A-List Celebrity hair stylist), Gem Allen (Pop star) and Tausi Likokola (Supermodel). I thought I should give them a shout out as they have really been supportive to me. I absolutely adore these people.
16) Do you think someone’s talent can be over looked because of skin colour?
I strongly believe the industry has evolved beyond that now and anyone can do well if they work hard. What I do think is that eventually when people are successful they should continue to be professional, hard working and become good role models. It is easy for members of the public to confirm negative stereotypes when someone portrays themselves negatively in the media.
17) What message do you have for all our readers who think they have what it takes?
Ask you first do you really want to be in show business? Do you have the hunger and drive? If not it might not be worth your time, it is a brutal industry with a lot of rejection. But if you want it really bad, it is worth it! Build a strong resilience as there will be rejection and disappointment and you have to bounce back very quickly.
Find something relevant to YOU that inspires you daily and fits in your life. You will need that inspiration when things are tough. Only YOU can genuinely believe in yourself and make it work, so believe in yourself and tell yourself everyday that you can do it and NEVER listen to anyone else. It is your life and no one else’s. You may have to sacrifice something along the way or burn bridges with people so be prepared. It is hard at first but preserver and you will realise it was all worth it!
Of course if you don’t have the skills and contacts you have to do your research, train and network a lot. You have to live and breathe show business until you make it. It is also important to practice to improve your audition skills and presentation.
Lastly have A PLAN! This is the part that is often forgotten. It is good to have dreams and self belief but if you don’t have a plan then when the pitfalls come you will get lost. It is like planning a journey but without a map or destination. You may enjoy the journey, discover places and meet people but you will still be travelling in circles if you do not have a map and final destination.
18) DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A TRUE REPRESENTATION OF A TODAY'S WOMAN, IF YES/NO WHY?
Depends on your definition or how society sees today’s woman. I am not sure, I don’t think so ha ha! I am not very feminine or girlie even though I’ve tried a bit harder to be feminine as I have gotten older. When I was growing up I was very athletic I liked boys’ hobbies and preferred men friends because I had more in common with them. I’m not a girl’s girl – I’m often misunderstood by women.
I prefer being a career woman than a home maker. I love my work and the adventures I have had following my dreams. I believe if you can make yourself happy and content it is easier to find the same happiness and contentment with other people.
19) What do you admire most in a man?
Someone who is honest, kind, secure, respectful, has drive in whatever career he chooses, treats women with respect and knows what he wants out of life. Self esteem and inner strength is also important as I believe this is the root of overcoming any pitfalls in life. Things will always go wrong in life and if you don’t have inner strength and self esteem you can give up at the first hurdle.
20) If you were given a trip to fly to any part of the world where would you go and why?
Hawaii!! That is my dream place. It is a paradise Island, it looks stunning and it has a lot of interesting history. Also there are so many adventures you can have there and so many things to do and discover. I first saw it in a programme in the 70s called Hawaii 5.0
21) Name one perfume scent you love?
I am very sensitive to smell so I like perfumes that have a very sweet scent. My daily perfume is Anais Anais, it’s timeless and I always have men asking me what it is so they can buy it for their wife. The perfumes I like spraying when going out are Dolce and Gabbana Red, J’Adore and Bulgari Pour Femme.
22) If you go clubbing what kind of music will get you to the dance floor to shake your booty?
I don’t go out as much as I used to. I used to be a party animal in my 20s. I still like old skool RnB and current dance tracks. I love 80s music so I love it when I got to a place or party that play music from the 80s. There are some more current artistes that are guaranteed to get me on the dance floor like Rihanna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.