Monday 2 May 2016

Hey guys! So I decided to bring back the small interviews on my blog featuring some very talented, unique and inspirational people. To kick that off I sat down with Rowena Alice Lewis to chat about her very exciting career so far! She is a writer as well as a film critic and radio presenter. She's had the chance to work with the likes of Steven Speilberg and Simon Pegg and has even received an ITV Award for best Documentary. 

rowena lewis

Hi Rowena! Thanks for chatting with me. I’m very impressed with everything you’ve managed to achieve at the ripe age of 26. truly inspirational. Whilst working on documentaries, presenting for the BBC3CR and writing for Kettle Magazine - what would say have been some of the highlights of your career so far? 

The biggest highlights of my career have to be the people I’ve met whilst working on the documentaries and for BBC3CR. In 2013, I flew to LA and got to work in a group with just five others on an interview with Steven Spielberg in his personal screening room at Amblin Entertainment, Universal Studios – I still have to remind myself that it was not a dream! Another memorable interview was with the delightful Simon Pegg, who has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager watching ‘Spaced’. Working for BBC3CR has given me the opportunity to attend film screening and press events, with my favourite being ‘Spotlight’ in January, followed by a Q&A with Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo. All I kept thinking was, “BATMAN AND THE HULK, BATMAN AND THE HULK!”. One of the questions I asked Keaton led to his response being in national Newspapers, which was extremely cool. Kettle Magazine is also a fabulous opportunity for me to speak my mind and voice my opinions, so writing for them is always fun!

Wow that sounds incredible, I bet no two days are alike! What would be a typical week at work for you? 

Being self-employed and doing a lot of freelance work means that my workdays can be very up in the air and change weekly. Currently, I attend the cinema on Mondays to catch up on the new film releases from over the previous weekend, and then start work on my reviews; they are then typed up and posted on Tuesdays. I have recently started as the co-host for the Fashion Show on Hoxton Radio in London, and so I am in the studio in Hackney on Wednesdays recording that. Whilst in London, I also meet up with my personal manager Hayley to catch up on new writing work that has come through or events that I want to attend. She’s my hero as she ensures I’m keeping on track – it’s easy to become disorganised and become lost with what is going on when you don’t have a regular working day! I try to use Thursday to catch up on articles I need to write up and interviews that I have sent to me, which I love to do whilst I binge on television series and movies at home or listening to music at my favourite local cafĂ©. Friday evenings are when I am on BBC3CR, so I use the morning for research into the week’s top entertainment news and gossip that I might have missed before heading to the studio in Dunstable. We’re never given a set itinerary for what we’ll be chatting about, so it’s best to dip into as much as you can throughout the week as well. When I have a bit of free time and I’m not keeping up with social networking, I try to squeeze in some drawing too – it’s a wonderful break from staring at screens a lot!

That sounds hectic! Organisation is definitely key. I’m also a fellow film lover! I’d say 40% of my blog posts are movie related. What have been some of your favourites you’ve seen lately? Any in particular you’re excited for this year? 

My favourite movies so far this year have been ‘Deadpool’, ‘The Witch’, ‘Anomalisa’, ‘Spotlight’ and, most definitely, the sublime ‘High-Rise’ by director Ben Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump. A formidable team that have produced some of the most incredible films over the last few years, and this was their biggest budget film to date; they did not disappoint! 

Films I’m looking forward to are: 

· ‘The Nice Guys’ – Shane Black (of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) directing, Ryan Gosling and a thriller story set in 70s LA? Yes Please! 

· ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘X-Men: Apocolypse’ – like most people, I’m a sucker for a good Marvel action-fest, and I think the Captain America films have been some of the strongest they’ve produced when it comes to narrative, character development and action sequences. With the X-Men films, I pretty much love anything with James McAvoy in, so he makes these films a big plus for me!

· ‘Ghostbusters’ – The originals (particularly the first) will be hard to beat, but I believe director Paul Feig and the all-female cast reboot will do a damn good job at holding up the legendary supernatural-fighting comedy heroes. Plus, if Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver have given it their approval with cameo appearances – I’d say we’re in for a fun ride!

· ‘The Neon Demon’ – the premise of this film’s story mixed with Nicolas Winding Refn of the superb film ‘Drive’ and Keanu Reeves results in a movie that I’m very excited to watch! It’ll be another nice change from the big blockbusters out this year too.

· ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ – Richard Linklater’s latest movie looks like another hit; sweet, funny and perfectly judged nostalgia with a fabulous 80’s soundtrack!

I actually watched Captain America last night and it did not disappoint! So what would you say are some of the challenges of working in this industry? What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps? 

Finances will always be challenging when working in a creative industry; we are still unfortunately expected to do a lot of work for free because it is deemed as good exposure. Whilst this is true to some extent, it doesn’t happen that often in other professions! There is very much a sense of entitlement to art, music, photography and films in society now – especially with the ease of access and sharing online! Be strong, get the experience, but ensure that you are not being used for all your hard work. Make friends with others in your industry, join groups on Facebook – you will soon find out who are the best people to work for and who are the worst when it comes to respecting your profession. 

Being a female writer and visual artist (who is also extremely vocal about feminist and social issues), I tend to receive a fair amount of backlash when I speak openly about these in my work. Do not stand for this… whether it is happening to you, or you observe it happening to a peer – keep speaking out and don’t allow them to silence you. I have had to report comments I have received to the police in the past, and I will keep doing this until this type of abuse is no longer tolerated and seen as just being ‘part and parcel’ of being a female in this line of work. Finally, lists and diaries will become your best friend! Erratic workdays with new projects coming in weekly, you will need to keep on top of things – for your own sanity if nothing else.

That is some great advice - and it's definitely an industry where you have to work hard to get what you want. Thanks for your time Rowena, what would you say is next for you? 

My pleasure! Thank you for your great questions. My plan is to carry on doing what I love for as long as I can! I’m hoping to develop my career on radio on the side of writing, whilst hopefully becoming an ambassador for some charities that I hold very close to my heart. 

You can keep up to date with Rowena on twitter @Rowenaaaa

♡ G ♡ 


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