Rising star and former Excelsior Academy pupil Kema Kay was back in familiar surroundings passing on the tips and techniques which have earned him rave reviews in the smash hit film ‘I, Daniel Blake.’
Kema took part in a workshop with English lesson pupils and the Young Writers’ City project in Excelsior’s drama studio.
He took time to go through their lines, pass on acting tips and even took part in a Mannequin Challenge with the pupils.
Kema, who is also carving out a successful career as a rapper, plays Daniel Blake’s next door neighbour China in the acclaimed film which tells the moving story of joiner Daniel who suffers a heart attack and has to navigate his way through the state benefits system.
The film directed by Ken Loach has won rave reviews and a Palme d’Or with nominations for a host of other awards.
Kema attended Excelsior for a year when it first opened in 2008 and remembers his time at the academy fondly.
“For me, everywhere I’m going now I’m getting recognised, it’s just amazing, I’ve been cast for other parts with so many other opportunities coming since the film, it’s changed my life a lot,” said Kema, 23.
“I knew the film would make an impact but I didn’t realise how big the film would be.
“Excelsior looks like it’s changed a lot but it still has that same feeling being back in school, it’s good to be here and it brings back a lot of happy memories.
“The year I was here was really good and I really enjoyed it. I do remember lessons here, I wanted to get into music and drama and I remember Miss Kain who was really nice.
“For me, what I learned here was the discipline and the way everything works, it helped me a lot. The main reason for coming back here is to inspire the pupils, to show them that I started where they are starting, so if I can do it, they can do it as well.”
Alison Kain, Excelsior Subject Development Leader for Key Stage 4 and 5 English, said: “Kema was always a really good natured young man, polite and helpful.
“He got into music at a young age, teacher Mr Krishnan was a big influence on him and he also enjoyed his art and drama as well.
“I always saw a talent in him. It makes me feel so proud that with so much talent out there he has made it into the industry through a vehicle as special as a Ken Loach film.
“Kema has come back to Excelsior to help pupils with their performance skills, singing, drama and writing skills.
“Kema has been where our pupils are, he understands the huge importance and positive influence the performing arts have on young people.”
Anna Disley, Programme Director of New Writing North, said: “Young Writers’ City is all about supporting young people to express themselves creatively, to help them to find their talent and to come into contact with artists and writers they might not usually encounter.
“Kema was supported by Excelsior to find his talent and we hope that many of the pupils in Excelsior will see how passionate he is about music, writing and drama and aspire to the same.”