By Theresa Goodwin
Four Antiguan and Barbudan women have been honoured for their contribution to the development of film in the country.
Actress and Drama Coach Julie Hewlett, Film/Television producer Mitzi Allen, Visual Artist, and Actress Heather Doram and Film/Television producer based in Toronto, Canada, Sandie De Freitas, were honoured recently during the Motion Picture Association of Antigua and Barbuda (MPAA) film festival.
OBSERVER media spoke to three of the four women about their recent accomplishments.
Hewlett was trained in England and has a degree in Acting from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
When she returned to Antigua several years ago after receiving training and formal education in England, she had no clue whether or not she would have gained employment as an actress or other areas of interest.
She made major inroads when she met Independent Film Producers Howard and Mitzi Allen of HaMa Films Antigua and got the opportunity to play a role in HaMa’s first featured film, The Sweetest Mango.
Hewlett said this was the start of what has turned out to be an exceptional career in film.
“Not only have I done The Sweetest Mango, I have been able to be a part of the Paradise View and it has been so well received throughtout the Caribbean, I have done voice-overs and commercials. I feel really privileged,” she explained.
In addition to film, Hewlett has also taught Performing Arts in a number of schools across the island, which later gave rise to the National Youth Theatre, which still exists today. Weeks ago, she also hosted Drama Dreams – an acting workshop for aspiring actors.
Mitzi Allen, a Broadcast Journalist and Film and Television Producer with over 30 years of experience, teams up with her husband Howard Allen to do film and television production.
The couple has produced the Sweetest Mango, a Caribbean love story; No Seed; Diablesse; and The Skin. The fifth feature film entitled Deep Blue is currently under production.
“At this moment I am very grateful and I appreciate the recognition. It gives me motivation to keep going with what we have been doing in training and development and with pursuing our work as independent producers,” Allen told OBSERVER media.
In addition to filming, the couple also offers training in film and television in partnership with the Youth Department and several other government and private entities as well as through internship with the company.
When many people in the society hears the name Heather Doram, they generally think about the famed designer of the National Dress and Former Director of Culture for Antigua and Barbuda and several other titles that she holds.
Doram has worked in and off the stage beginning with her role in two staged plays When a Woman Mourns and the Vagina Monologues by Women of Antigua and short plays by an English based writer who once resided in Antigua.
She also went on to take up lead and support roles in films produced by HaMa Films Antigua and later a series on state television, dubbed Keeping It Real. Doram said this is how she took up a role she had no prior plans for.
“I have been recognised for so many other things in my life [but] I never even thought of me being recognised in this particular area. The important thing about my involvement with film and things like that, I have always thought and I still feel that as Antiguans and Barbudans, we need more opportunities to see ourselves,” the awardee said.
OBSERVER media was unable to make contact with the fourth awardee, Sandie de Frietas, for her comments.