How did you become an artist?
Z: By accident, when I was younger I enjoyed English and storytelling and had a brilliant English teacher. I started reading poetry, watching plays and going to spoken word events. I was writing but at first I didn’t perform. Eventually I found out about Leeds Young Authors (established by fellow Associate Artist Khadijah Ibrahiim) and joined in 2005. Within a year, the Leeds Young Authors went to America to compete in a Slam poetry competition. I carried on writing and two years later realised that this is what I wanted to do. I completed my BTEC in Performing Arts at Leeds City College in 2008. I then completed a BA in Arts, Events and Performance at Leeds Beckett (previously Leeds Metropolitan) before doing my Masters in Writing for Performance and Publication at Leeds University. At first I was interested in doing Clinical Psychology, I guess I have a general interest in human behaviour and it was just the field that changed.
Who and what inspires you?
Z: I have a genuine fascination with people and how we live together (or don’t) and I’m interested in how people respond differently to the same events.
I look up to powerful women such Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author of ‘We should all be feminists’) and Shonda Rhimes and their ability to influence how the audience feels.
What was the proudest moment of your career?
Z: The opening of my play Boi Boi is Dead at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was a big moment for me. It was the culmination of 4 years’ hard work, during which I had no recognition or security that it would be commissioned. It was my first full length play. I learnt a lot about character development and creating a story over 90 minutes. I had been quietly developing the idea in my mind for years and I’m glad that I didn’t quit. It led me to the epiphany that as a writer you must persevere and have patience if you believe in your story.
What do you think are the challenges for young artists?
Z: Finding the right platform which can help you develop in the long term and with individuals who are committed to seeing you through your development as an artist.
It’s also difficult to find paid work as a writer and transition from doing free work to asking for payment for your services, particularly as there are few people willing to invest in new writers/artists.
It’s easy to stay caught in development schemes as an ‘emerging artist’ and trying to move forward professionally can be frustrating and disheartening. With the uncertainty of being a professional artist it’s all about learning how to work as a freelancer, being open utilising your skills in many areas, being brave in your ability and knowing that there will be sacrifices (and rewards).
What can we expect from your Creative Café workshop?
Z: My workshop won’t just be for writers. Whether you’re developing and idea or writing is new to you, you should come along. If you want to develop a character, or just like stories you should come along. I’ll be discussing some of the things every writer should have in their ‘writers toolbox’ and we’ll discuss some of your favourite characters (so come prepared with some thoughts). Finally’, we’ll discuss how to create or develop your own characters and their individual narratives.
Where can we find out more?
To find out more about the Creative Cafe and register for updates CLICK HERE!
You can find out more about Zodwa and her work on the following links
OR! Check out Zodwa’s latest play ‘Ode to Leeds’ inspired by her time with Leeds Young Authors and taking place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 10th June 2017-1st July 2017