Take a read of our interview with local actor Shahj as he discusses his debut feature film role.
Q1. So tell us a little bit about yourself for those who don't know you
I'm Shahj Miah, British Bengali Muslim, born and raised in Luton. I'm an aspiring actor and my first credited role is a feature film The Flood opposite Lena Headey from Game of Thrones so I'm very excited about the release.
Q2. so what was your route into acting?
I started by doing as much as I could to hone my skills like going to acting classes and workshops and just generally getting involved in the area of acting. I took the necessary steps in getting a headshot and getting a showreel. I then started to apply for open auditions and applying for small roles mainly uncredited in student films, web series and tv. I was then able to be a background artist for the BBC drama Rellik and the casting agent from this show believed i had the look for the role in The Flood and so put me forward for it. The producer of the The Flood liked me and I was cast as Shakeeb. I was at the right place at the right time.
Q3. You have spoken about ethnic expectations in terms of profession. How has this impacted on your journey so far?
Expectations from my community was a big hindrance as pursuing acting was frowned upon. Having no support and no guidance impacted my journey to be delayed by 15 years. This mentality is changing now and it helps we are being more represented in the media and we have positive role models like Riz Ahmed in the industry.
Q4. Tell us a little bit about your forthcoming film 'The Flood'
The Flood is an immigration drama showing the plight of some refugees and equally showing the hard decisions an immigration officer (played by Lena Headey) needs to make. I play a character called Shakeeb who is a refugee in the Calais camps. He comes into contact with Haile played by Ivanno Jeremiah who is looking to come to England. The film is about Haile' s journey and will be releasing on 21st June.
Q5. What advice would you give to any young local aspiring actors?
I would say get professional training if possible as this will make it easier for you to join spotlight and get representation. If this is not possible then it's about staying persistent and being patient. Get involved in all aspects of this area and don't give up auditioning and honing your skills. Eventually an opportunity will arise.