I’m Nyla, Creative Arts Development Officer and Drama Tutor for G-Expressions.
This blog post is my personal journey about how I have been inspired by a specific person in my life among others, to get to where I am today. Thats me on the top left of that group photo!
I have always had a passion for performing arts, my dream like many was always to be a big Hollywood actress, ever since I was a little girl, to see my name in bright lights, to be on the big screen and be a star on the walk of fame. Sadly, as is for many this dream seemed to get further away from me the older I became and because of decisions that I made in life.
At the age of 16 I became a mother…
I had left school with no GCSE’s, the only talent I had was to perform but with a baby and the position I had put myself in, that was a dream I felt I would have to let go of. By 19 I had my second child and had no idea where life was going to take me.
In 2016 I got involved with a project run by G-Expressions whom I had been involved with before, teaching dance classes and helping with performances. This project was part of a youth festival which was held at Tredegar House, Newport where the young people involved would put on a play about the Morgan Family who once resided at the house.
The play was written by Alex Riley who was also the director and drama tutor for G-Expressions. I was keen to get involved after I had watched their 2 previous productions written and directed by Alex Riley, ‘Romeo and Juliet, from the streets’ and ‘Make or Break’ which I thought were amazing and this boosted me to reconnect with my passion of performing arts
This was the start of my journey with Alex Riley…
I assisted Alex with the play at Tredegar House in 2016 and again in 2017.
In the Summer of 2017, I auditioned for her take on Sister Act 2, ‘Sister’s Acting up’ and landed myself the lead role as ‘Sister Renee’ this was a huge step for me. I was also given the opportunity to be assistant director and support Alex with the cast and rehearsals.
I learnt so much from Alex through out this time and was able to get advice and tips on my acting as well as directing. In 2019 I assisted her with G-Expressions latest production ‘Hard Knock Life’ this enabled me to direct more and I was given a bigger responsibility as Alex was in between shows which meant some rehearsals I had to lead and on the night of the shows I sat side of stage to make sure lights and sound went how they were supposed to.
Working with a professional…
Alex studied Applied drama at Newport university graduating with a 2:1. She then went on to teach drama at several organisations including the Pauline Quirke Academy and G- expressions where she wrote and directed 5 shows. After a few years of teaching She decided to pursue her dream of acting and studied a masters at Royal Welsh College of music and drama.
Since graduating in 2016, Alex has worked in several theatres such as The Sherman, The RSC, Manchester Royal Exchange, Clwyd and Theatre by the Lake. She built a great career with many great roles acting alongside people such as Denise Black, Rhodri Meiler, Richard Mylan and many others. She got a huge break by being cast in the huge cult series “The End of The F***ing World” which appears on Netflix. Other programmes include “Bang”, “Almost Never”, Bafta award winning series “In My Skin” and is now filming for a brand-new ITV drama, ‘The Pembrokeshire Murders’. Alongside her acting she is also writing for stage and screen and is part of the New Welsh voices at the BBC as well as a writer’s group for the Royal Court and The Sherman theatre.
Alex is currently a leading role in a comedy series called ‘The Tuckers’ written by Steve Spiers, which is on BBC1 Wales. This series has become very popular especially in Wales, where it is based.
She has inspired me…
Alex has 4 children whom she has raised pretty much as a single mother. Being in a similar situation to her, as a single mother of 2 I was able to look up to her and relate.
I had so much self-doubt for a long time and I believed that my dreams of performing were over the day I became a mother, but Alex helped to put the fire back into me and helped me to find my spark again. Watching her journey and seeing her achieve and accomplish some amazing roles that made me think if she can do it, why can’t I?
Alex’s drive to succeed and her big personality rubbed off on me, making me take a big step in my own life and getting out of my comfort zone, putting myself in a position to do what I have always loved to do.
In 2019, after working on the shows with Alex and G-Expressions, I began to feel quite low with working in the job I was in. Seeing Alex do what she loves and watching her grow and succeed made me think about me and what I could do to put myself on the career path I wanted.
An opportunity was then given to me by G-Expressions to have a 16hr post as a creative arts development officer within the organisation, to be able to teach my own drama classes and write new scripts and ideas for new shows. This was just what I wanted, but it meant leaving a permanent job. However, I didn’t hesitate in accepting right away and I took a risk, but it was a risk worth taking.
Alex Riley has always told me I can do anything I want to do and although I have been told this by my parents, family members and friends, seeing her and watching what she has done inspired me to truly believe I can.
And here I am…
Now on my own journey, I have written and directed a play based in Tredegar House, following in the footsteps of Alex and have also just written a new production ready for G-Expressions next big show. Alex is a true inspiration in my personal and professional development in performing arts, she continues to be an ambassador for G-Expressions and is always there to support me.