Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Actor Suraj Shah is the inspiring founder of B.A.M.E. General Open Auditions - an initiative to connect under-represented actors with the agents and casting professionals with the power to land them roles and give them a break in the industry.
We're delighted to share some snippets from a chat we had with Suraj earlier this year.
When did you start B.A.M.E. and how did it come about?
When I was completing my foundation course in 2018 Acting at the Birmingham School of Acting [now known as The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire] I realised there was a lack of actors of colour in the school. A city that was so culturally diverse and to have a school that didn't even closely represent it was very confusing for me.
I then set up B.A.M.E. Originally created to provoke conversations on diversity and representation within our industry which has now turned into a platform that does that but also creates opportunities for underrepresented actors in our industry.
How have you balanced full-time drama school with such an active and engaged community?
In all honesty, it sometimes is difficult. Doing a course that takes up so much time and energy, planning is key. I know what I want to do with the platform and what I am working on so therefore I plan that around my course.
Although it can be difficult and straining sometimes - with so many emails coming through, people asking questions and wanting advice and help - it all comes down to it being so worth it! I want this to be a platform that not only makes a difference but also helps those that need it - even if it's a 'silly' question.
What do you think are the biggest achievements of B.A.M.E so far?
The B.A.M.E General Open Auditions is by far the biggest achievement for this platform. From this, many actors have gained representation, auditions and meetings with casting directors. It's also created so many conversations from the people who attend, about representation and diversity. What are your biggest aspirations for B.A.M.E. and the community you’ve built?
For me: to have to not do this anymore. The day that we can truly see a diverse industry that represents the world we live in today is the day that this platform has accomplished its original goal. It should be normal to see people of colour in our industry doing all the jobs that are currently denied to them.
On a personal note, what are your biggest goals and aspirations in TV & Film?
To play a character in a fantasy drama like The Witcher. I want to play characters that are not stereotypically associated with South Asian actors. Have you ever seen a South Asian wizard? Or a South Asian King?
I want to break those barriers because I am an actor. Acting is having the ability to convince an audience of your character's circumstance, and you can do that without always playing a character based on your skin colour, your ethnicity.
Where can people find you?