Delia-René can do it all. She acts. She Directs. She writes. She can even find you love. Her web series “Venus vs Mars” has won her two national awards in the UK and she now has her firmly set on the BAFTAs!
We spoke to the multi-talented UK thespian about her rising career and her creative influences.
Ayara: Tell us about the inspiration behind your blog, “Vex In The City”
I started Vex In The City nearly 10 years ago, back then blogging wasn’t the lucrative business that it is today. But my inspiration has to 100% be the readers whom I’ve termed as the “Renegades” because, throughout the years, they have been loyal, honest, supportive and just as real as I am. Compared to well know social media influencers my numbers aren’t high or “marketable” in the eyes of major brands, but I know that it’s really not about quantity…it’s the quality of those around you. Every time I feel like what I’m doing doesn’t matter, or that no-one really cares without asking someone will reach out to me and show support to any event, film or idea that I have.
Ayara: Did you always know that you wanted to write? When did you realize that you had a real talent for it?
It didn’t dawn on me for a very long time! Growing up I was actually a singer, grew up in the choir and did performing arts. In secondary school I loved English, I loved reading books and created little stories (including B2K fanfiction.., I’m still lowkey in love with J Boog) but it never dawned on me that writing was a possibility, even when blogging through the year with Vex In The City. I think it truly dawned on me that I had a real talent for it when I put on my first theatre production “Ex-periences” at the Lost Theatre, hearing the audiences reactions and the standing ovation afterwards made me think “I could happily do this for the rest of my life” plus I was crying like a baby…I don’t like to cry point blank period that made me realise how badly I wanted it, that final moment of my play was something that I had been praying for throughout the year and God had blessed me to see it done. Furthermore, my friends and family was there to share that moment with me, that was priceless.
Ayara: You co-write web series “Venus vs Mars” which won two Screen Nation Awards. Describe the feeling of having your work recognized in such a grand way?
In one word…surreal. Never at any moment was I thinking of awards, interviews, let alone a TV opportunity. All I was focused on was creating quality content and a web series that people would enjoy and watch! I knew we had a talented cast that were an absolute joy to work with day in and out, and seeing them perform the words I wrote was such a humbling experience. When we won at the Screen Nation Awards, I just felt proud not even for myself, but for them because it was truly what they deserved!
After winning the Screen Nation, I began to really think about what I wanted next…BAFTA’s just know I’m coming for you!
Ayara: How difficult is the scriptwriting process and what is your process?
Oh, my days…scriptwriting is a process and a half! Yes, I enjoy it and you really have to because it takes your patience and then some! Everyone has their own way of writing scripts and it took me a good year to find my own method! For one, I always walk around with a notebook in my bag, I know in this time & age I could write on my phone but I’m old school, nothing beats a good old notebook and paper! Plus I’m a stationary fiend so coloured fine line pens are my thing! If a scene, character or idea comes to me I write it in my notebook first. When I get to script writing itself, I only listen to jazz or classical music something about that music just makes the creativity flow easier and I can see the scene in my mind as I write it. I have to be alone (although I’m a hermit anyway I like my own company) and just totally shut off from the world, no phone or distractions. I also know the importance of taking a break, going out and enjoying life because if you don’t go out…you won’t get time to switch off and more ideas come to you.
Ayara: Where is the weirdest place you’ve found inspiration for your writing?
Hands down has to be a graveyard, I was walking through it to visit my grandparents and after spending time with them, an idea for a short around elderly people came to me from watching an old man from afar laying flowers on his wife’s grave, it was the most endearing act of love I had ever seen.
Ayara: Wakanda fever has taken over the globe! How do you feel that the success of the movie has affected the future for Black screenwriters and directors?
I feel it has motivated us to a different level. Of course, we are aware the market in the UK is very different to the US and internationally, however it does give us hope as well as fuel a fire in our belly that we need to continue doing what we are, and perhaps like Jordan Peele cut of the middle man and create our content without major distribution, budgeting or a cast. Clearly, there is a want for our own movies/TV and we have to keep kicking those doors down to have a scratch of that success domestically. Furthermore, I hope it highlights to black creatives within the UK that we are stronger together than apart, we don’t have to look at each other as competition and taking food from our table, there is more than enough money and opportunities out here for us all and we can’t have it all anyway! Stop being greedy and help those around you!
Ayara: Who are the writers who have had the most influence on your work and why?
Maya Angelou shaped my teenage years, her poems, activism, and books still resonate with me as a grown woman. Zadie Smith, of course, is a bad girl author, no matter where I am, her books and stories take me to a next world. I even remember Eric Jerome Dickey and Zane that my mum would kill me for reading if she ever really read the books that were in my room during my late teens! Iyanla Vanzant not only fixes, she breaks, builds and strengthens my life regularly!
But of course, I am a huge fan of Issa Rae and Ava Duvernay, everything that they write, direct and produce is golden!
I am just a fan of writing that tells the stories that are emotionally driven, intense and gripping. In fact, I have a responsibility myself to champion and support talent that are in the UK more!
Ayara: You are a relationship expert and run events to bring people together. How much do these events inspire your creative works?
*Laughs* I wouldn’t call myself a “relationship expert” it makes me cringe! I see so many “influencers” out here on social media, purposely aiming advice at single women looking for love and when I look at their videos I honestly want to punch them in the throat because some are just capitalizing off it and exploitation. Especially when a lot of what they market…is common sense. My premise is just to speak about relationships because I enjoy it, it’s necessary for life whether its personal, platonic, sexual, business or whatever! My events are for those are like-minded as myself to have the opportunity to network, have fun and drink basically! Like I mentioned before I am humbled to even be in the position that I am today because of my events and the people that attend so anyway that I can help others and continue networking with individuals I’m going to do because you never know who might be in the room and could be an answer to your prayer! I can’t front I am a really good matchmaker…attended a wedding a few years ago that I helped initially with the introductions, I’m a hopeless romantic, seeing people happy and in love…is infectious! But I’m not an expert, and I never claim to be, I’m quite open on my blog on my past mistakes and the lessons I’ve learned but there’s a lot I keep private as I can’t blaze my ENTIRE life I have to leave something for myself and my sanity but can’t be an expert when I’m single haha! But I know what I want for myself, for my business and for my future and that’s what everyone should have.
Ayara: What is the ultimate goal/ dream project for you and who would be involved?
The absolute dream project would be several TV projects across broadcast channels and work on my first feature film! I would want to be able to collaborate with upcoming and established writers and production companies to produce original content that is seen as prime time all over the UK. I honestly think that the path to get into TV/Film within the UK needs to change, it’s so hard as a writer to get representation firstly, then the playing field of opportunities is not level especially when you are a creative of colour AND a woman…we need our own movement, more mentors, opportunities, budgets and badasses at mid to top level to help us get our big toe through the door, once we have that…we become an unstoppable force.
Ayara: What’s can we expect from you for 2018?
I honestly couldn’t tell you, I’m just going to continue to fulfill the purpose that God has put me here for. I’m humbled to be in a position to create content, whether that be through the medium of visual content, or putting on events is truly up to God. I am just a willing servant to any and every opportunity that he gives me this year. I termed this year as 20 Cre-18 because I want it to be a pivotal year for me creatively, working with others, getting my own content out and being the best version of myself that I can be.
To find out more about Delia-René, you can head to her website, DeliaRene.com.