The Welsh Exotic: Finding Happiness In Creativity
In her first column for 2018, Danielle Fahiya discusses Welsh Happiness Day, her writing progress and The Wales Theatre Awards.
Happy New Year! Can I still get away with that? It is still technically January albeit the end of (thank God!) and also my first column of 2018 so yeah, I said it!
Why does January always feel like the longest month ever?! I took advantage of that this year and hibernated every weekend of the month to dedicate time to my writing. It helped that most people are miserable this time of year and don’t want to be social as well as being too freezing to even think about going anywhere; aka writer’s dream being alone! Yes, most of the UK is miserable this time of year, but did you know that Wales falls to the bottom of regions for being the least happy?
WELSH HAPPINESS DAY
This brings me on to what was held in Wales for the first time this January - ‘Welsh Happiness Day’ 23rd January, now there has always been an International Happiness Day held later in the year in March but because of this statistic the powers that be decided that Wales needs their own happiness day.
I was able to be a part of this day last week as I was invited to the studio audience live recording of ‘Make Wales Happy’ at BBC Llandaff where along with Dr Bronwyn Tarr and famous faces like Kriss Akabusi several experiments were tried out to see how the nation can become happier.
To see more check out the programme available on BBC iplayer Personally I think it’s crucial to our well-being that we engage in activities that raise our endorphin's and serotonin levels as being happy should be one of the most important parts of our lives.
PERSONAL PASSION PROJECT
As I mentioned previously, I have been spending my time when not acting on writing my migrant play. I have just completed my first draft which was quite therapeutic but now to nail down on my re-drafting and getting to the heart of my thoughts on being a third-generation migrant and the impact of that in your life at defining moments i.e. turning 21, 25, marriage, children etc...
It really is a personal passion project for me and very exposing in some areas as I delve into my family history and the politics within that. Through my mentoring I have realised that the only way to write about a subject like this that is relevant to me is to make it personal and not be afraid of that. I think that there can be something liberating about owning that part of you and giving your truth on that to a world that has sometimes ill informed and harsh views on that subject that is part of you.
Aside from my writing developments I have been self-taping for TV/film projects and also recently shot some stills photography for an ad campaign for Welsh Government, so you may see me coming to a billboard or bus stop near you soon! I have also signed with a new agent BAME Models and Talent Management based in London as well as my existing agency in Wales- Shelley Norton Management so looking forward to continued and new opportunities.
WALES THEATRE AWARDS
As some of you in the Welsh arts industry may know there has been some controversy in the run up to the Wales Theatre Awards I regularly write reviews for Arts Scene in Wales and was one of the people asked to submit my nominations for this year’s awards.
However, following this year’s nominations announcement there has been a lot of social media posts about the lack of diversity in the nominations and there were talks of boycotting and criticism of those attending the awards who had signed an open letter of dismay at the lack of diversity.
As a woman who is multi ethnic and is always seen as being different (which is something I am extremely proud of.my social media handle is The Welsh Exotic after all!) I know first hand what it’s like to be seen as an outsider for a role or at times a risky choice unfairly based on my ethnicity, but I don’t think that boycotts or lengthy social media debates are the way forward. I didn’t attend the awards but unfortunately what I have seen on social media is calling people out who attended the awards as being hypocrites. Surely this kind of behaviour creates further hostility between the organisers of such awards and doesn’t move matters forward for a chance to talk openly and freely?!
Also, it makes those who were nominated and those who won feel uncomfortable in that and unable to enjoy the merits of their hard work due to not wanting to be hit with backlash. What is needed is for an event/day/series of talks to be held fairly in an open environment for matters and issues to be discussed and proposals to be heard. It gives the chance for everyone to have their opinion heard through the appropriate channels.
I think that it’s great that people can use their social media to talk about injustices (hell I do!), their opinions and the chance to highlight an issue but the downside of that sometimes causes heightened emotions, misinterpretations and creates more hostility than positivity. I say this as a person who uses social media quite regularly to talk about issues, but I do think that these important issues need a larger and more effective platform to be fairly dealt with and actual action to take place from that.
I am now pleased to hear that the Wales Theatre Awards have responded to the issues raised and that a meeting is being arranged to deal with this.
- If anyone would like to get in touch or has any questions for me or topics they would like me to discuss then please get in touch via my Twitter @TheWelshExotic