The Creative and entertainment industry can be a pretty daunting place, with many trying to break into just one area of the industry, not daring to stretch themselves to far for fear of failure! But there are some exceptions and we met up with Ann Akin who proved you can do it all and do it all well!! With her fiercely determined attitude and contagious personality, Ann is successfully creating a name for herself both off-screen and on, and still manages to fit in time to encourage the next generation of creatives with her “Young Harts” Theatre company.
Can you tell us in 3 words who is Ann Akin?
Funny, loyal, hardworking
When it came to trying to “pigeon-hole” you we couldn’t! So how would you describe what you do, who you are and what you’re trying to achieve?
It’s probably harder for me to try to describe me, than it was for you. I’d say I’m an ‘artist’ or is creative a better word?
I’m an actor, writer, producer and artistic director of Harts we can maybe throw dancer into the mix as well
You’ve recently had your first public sharing of your one woman show “Trying to find me” how did it go?
It went really well. Better than expected. It got a standing ovation, which really took me by surprise.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a private viewing of your show a while back when it was still under construction and loved it, the honesty, the comedy and the real ness was so easy to relate to! How did this show come about ? (How does it feel being so honest?its very bravee that’s for sure)
So it’s an autobiographical silly, funny, serious and sometimes painful one woman show. Where I’m presenting my true, raw self on stage. As you know, I shy away from being private in public. I’m barely on social media and when I am I only talk about work. People don’t really know much about my personal life unless they know me. But within this play I show so much. So I’m always surprised by how well it/I’m received… it’s scary being so honest on stage because I open myself up to personal criticism. People won’t just judge the piece, they’ll automatically judge me as it’s my story and the character is true to me.
It came about because one of my closest friends has been telling me for years that I should write a show. My life can be such a comedy at times and I love story telling. I’ve never taken her that seriously before but I few years ago I was part of a project called Home Theatre with Theatre Royal Stratford East (where they match 50 artists with 50 homes and you creative a specific show written/created for your host to be performed in their home) and I was paired with a host who didn’t want me to write a show about him or anything to do with him. He projected onto me and just wanted to hear my story. At the end of our meeting he said “that’s what I want. I want you to write your show” so that’s how the show was birthed. I did a very very early version of the show as part of that project.
Looking at your cv is like looking at the cv of three or four people, you act, write, dance, and launched your own theatre company!!! Is there one particular realm you prefer the most?
That’s a difficult question. I guess the answer depends on what part of ‘the thing’ that I love and the different part of me that it feeds. I absolutely love performing. It’s what I’ve been pursuing since I was 11 and I adore the fact that I’m able to still do it.
But creating stories gives me such a buzz, it taps into a different side of me. I hadn’t created a show in such a long time that I forgot how much it makes me happy. Tech week really excites me, when I’m working with the lights and sound design and seeing it all come together. Being an Artistic Director is something really special. We have very little control over our careers in this industry and that can be a very frustrating thing at times. It’s hard when it doesn’t matter how talented you are or how hard you work, this still doesn’t bare reference to how successful you may become. But Harts gives me some control of my career and I’ve managed to get the company to a secure enough place where everyday I’m still able to do exactly what I want to do and make up my own rules. That’s magic!
So in summary (lol) that was a long-winded way of saying… I have no preference 🙂
Following on from all the different things you have achieved!In a dream world what would you be doing??
Exactly what I’m doing now but more established. I want to run my own building one day and to produce our festivals on a bigger scale. I’d love to produce an outdoor festival.
Tell us about Young Harts theatre company?
So it’s a community theatre company that has young people at its heart. It really is about providing really great opportunities but in an accessible way.
We run drama classes for kids in Barnet and south London.
A new writing festival in collaboration with Lyric Hammersmith called Young Harts writing Festival and also run mental health awareness workshops for schools and charities called Normal Education.
What is in the pipe line now? Will you be taking a break following your recent showcase?
No! We never take a break. Currently we are producing a festival called iAm Fest (iAm Normal Festival) which will be on the 23rd September at Arts Depot in Finchley. This derived from normal education.
It’s a wellbeing music and arts festival for all ages. This year our theme is bringing the outdoors indoors. So we’ll have real trees and plants. Deck chairs and bean bags. We have amazing performers like Omar and Bushkin from Heartless Crew and Jermaine Riley. We’ll have trading and information and food stalls and workshops and activities that people can engage in. Time to change and MQ Mental health will also be speaking. It will be a lot of fun and I’m very proud of it
We hear whispers of a Michael Caine film coming up??? Are you at liberty to gossip some more with us???
Yes, I’ve just finished filming the role of Ds Amy in the new movie about the Hatton Garden robbery which has an amazing cast and I had a great time filming in. But I’m also really excited about the Strike Series for BBC and HBO which starts this month. It’s a 3 part series told over a number of episodes and I appear as DI Ekwensi in the 3rd part of the series!
Can you tell us about your training? This industry is so competitive right now, what advice would you give any budding actors, writers etc
I knew I wanted to be a performer when I was 10. So I went Sylvia Young Part time when I was 11. I went to the BRIT School, I did a degree in media performance and then studied acting at Drama Studio London. I’m a perpetual student. I really love to learn. I don’t believe that the tradition route of drama school is the only way into the industry but I do believe it’s important to train.
My advice would be to always stay proactive. What else creatively stimulates you? Find time for that thing as well. We spend a lot of our time in this job ‘not working’ rather than focussing on that, put that energy into creating your own work.
You trained at the infamous Brit School, which is now under pressure to raise funds due to cuts just to stay open? How do you feel about this (like myself I attended the Brit School and feel incredibly passionate about the school and the fact it offers free training in the arts)
What is your take on The Arts in education?
One thing about the Arts in education that is extremely painful at times is how expensive it is and having to watch some people who are extremely talented not be able to take a place at drama school due to lack of funds really hits a nerve for me.
Places like BRIT are so so important and I really hope that it is able to keep its doors open l!
Where can we find further info about Young Harts?
Check us out at:
Harts_theatre (twitter and instagram)
You can also find us on Facebook /hartstheatrecompany
Head along to the IAM FEST next month!!