Tag Archives: Dorothy Koomson

Meeting Dorothy Koomson

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When Keysha met Dorothy

This week I met one of my writer heroes. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I’m a massive fan of Dorothy Koomson, the prolific best-selling author who has penned an impressive eight novels. On Tuesday Dorothy invited me and several other journalists to a special lunch held at Soho House to celebrate the imminent arrival of novel numero eight – The Flavours Of Love. Check out the blurb:

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Six Screen Moments to Look Forward to in 2013

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2013 is shaping up to be quite an exciting year on both the little and big screen. From films with pretty sizeable budgets starring Hollywood heavy hitters, to smaller indie productions using ever inventive ways to get their cinematic visions across to the masses – things certainly look promising for Black British creatives in the film and television industry, with everyone from actors and screenwriters to producers and directors getting their much-needed time to shine. Here is a round up of six super screen moments to look forward to in the new year.

6. BELLE   

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Based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the  mixed race illegitimate child of a British slave captor, Belle is a period drama based on her life directed by BAFTA Award winning director Amma Asante. Scheduled for release in 2013, the film stars  Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson. With very little information available about Dido Elizabeth Belle this promises to be a captivating watch.

5. GONE TOO FAR!

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Bola Adbaje’s Laurence Olivier award-winning play ‘Gone Too Far’ gets the cinematic treatment  which marks the feature film directional debut of Destiny Ekaragha. Shot in London over four weeks in October, Gone Too Far stars Malachi Kirby and O.C Ukeje who play two estranged brothers (one who grew up on an estate in London, the other Nigeria) who meet up for the first time and spend the course  of a day ending up in all kinds of compromising situations while getting to know each other beyond their cultural differences. Backed by the BFI, there is no official release date as yet and very few details available online. But with Bola and Destiny at the helm, I fully expect this to be a top class production.

4. HALF OF A YELLOW SUN

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I was a little flummoxed when I learned that Thandie Newton had been cast as the lead character in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel Half of A Yellow Sun. I read the book a few years ago so can’t recall clearly whether the lead character of Olanna was given a detailed  physical description or not. But I definitely envisioned a darker skinned actresses playing the lead role and as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one – a petition was created by a group of Igbo Nigerian women who rightfully raised questions about the film industry’s  tendency to white wash Black narratives, and how the practice inadvertently contributes to the growing demand for skin bleaching products in Nigeria. But anyhow, I digress. After seeing this movie still I’m more than a little excited about seeing how Chimamanda’s epic novel based on the Biafran war which took place in Nigeria between 1967-1970, will translate on the big screen. There is no official release date yet, but I’ll be sure to post more info when I receive it.

3. THE ICE CREAM GIRLS

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As mentioned in a previous post, Dorothy Koomson’s novel The Ice Cream Girls is being turned into a ITV drama miniseries which will air in spring 2013. The book is based on two teenage girls who are accused of murder and although they both maintain that they are innocent, their lives are forever altered and they go their separate ways until they meet over fifteen years later and are forced to confront their harrowing past. Lorraine Burroughs of Fast Girls fame plays Serena, one of the accused girls. Based on the book – which is thrilling, thought provoking, nerve wrecking and heartbreaking – I’m expecting a quality drama, so please do it justice, ITV.

2. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

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Nelson Mandela’s autobiography The Long Walk To Freedom is coming to the big screen in 2013. Idris Elba will be playing the great man himself, while Naomie Harris will appear as his wife, the controversial and polarising, Winnie Mandela.  Now this should be interesting. While I have much respect for Idris as an actor/movie star, whether he is able to pull off such an iconic and important role with the required gravitas remains to be seen. That said, I’m rooting for him and if he does manage to nail it and the film pulls in decent numbers at the box office, I’m pretty certain that this will propel him into the acting elite.

1. LUTHER – SEASON 3 

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2013 looks likely to be the year of the Elba. Alongside ‘Long Walk To Freedom‘ Idris is also set to reprise his role as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the BBC cult drama Luther. The bad news? There are only three episodes scheduled for season 3 (why only three measly episodes BBC, WHY?). But nonetheless expect your Twitter feed to  explode as once again we embark on a white knuckle ride through the life and times of this flawed, sexy, conflicted detective as he attempts to balance his catastrophic personal life with solving the violent crimes occurring on the gritty streets of London. With the runaway success of the first two seasons and rumours of Luther being turned into a film  we are pretty sure that Luther won’t be hanging up his tatty tweed jackets anytime soon.

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Date For Your Cocoa Diary: I’mPossible

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Ladies, can you believe it’s almost the end of the year? I know we say this every year, but my gosh, this year has really flown by. But before you switch off, kick off your shoes and unplug from the world as you prepare for the festive break,  I urge you to check out the last I’mPossible Conversation for 2012 which takes place on Wednesday December 12th at Pearson PLC at the Strand. Remember I told you about this event already? Well this super special Christmas edition will be hosted by Hannah Pool who will be interviewing author Dorothy Koomson, social entrepreneur Foluke Akinlose MBE, actress/model Rachel Ritfield and founder of Enright Entertainment Rachel Springate about their paths to success. Hurry and purchase your tickets as they tend to sell out fast. For further information click here.

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Blackhair – December/January 13 Issue

If you live in the UK  by now you would’ve probably seen the stunning new cover of Blackhair magazine featuring the gorgeous, uber cool Shingai Shoniwa from the Noisettes. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but it has to be said – I’m so darn proud of this cover. Shot in the opulent surroundings of Shaka Zulu restaurant in Camden, London, this  cover is the delectable fruit of one arduous labour consisting of numerous calls, emails, last minute cancellations and an extremely short time frame to make. ish. happen.

But thankfully Shingai brought her A+ game  and nailed the cover within the first ten minutes. Shout outs to my amazing team at BH and the awesome, first class glam squad which included: Joseph Sinclair (photography) Erica Matthews (stylist) Jayne Williams (make up artist) and Charlotte Mensah (hairstylist). The elaborate heart shaped hair piece was created by Mario Dionisi. In addition to Shingai you’ll also find interviews with Chrisette Michele, Dorothy Koomson, an Autumn/Winter trend report and a round-up of our favourite black cast Christmas films. The issue is out on sale now at WH Smiths and all good newsagents.

After Shaka Zulu, we stepped outside into Camden market for an impromptu shoot

 

 

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The Ice Cream Girls and 4 Other Books That Should Head To The Small Screen

I can recall going off on an angry tweeter tirade while watching the  Channel 4 drama Top Boy which aired at the start of the year. For those who missed the memo, Top Boy is a TV series starring Ashley Walters and Kano, about a gang of black men who (yawn) sell drugs and  find themselves in life threatening situations as try to navigate through the brutal and ruthless world of class A drug dealing. My annoyance stemmed from us having to go round this particular mulberry bush yet again. Yes, we get it. SOME young black men are involved in various acts of criminality (like many other races of people of course), and I don’t deny that it’s a story worth telling, but haven’t we got the message from Adulthood, Kidulthood, Bullet Boy, W10 LDN and any other identikit film/TV series that we’ve been exposed to over the last five years or so? I recall tweeting that I longed for the day that books by Black British authors such as Dorothy Koomson, Lesley Lokko and Lola Jaye were given the TV treatment to show that we aren’t one homogeneous bunch and  our lives are as varied/ beautiful/complicated as any other race. So I was delighted to learn recently that my favourite book by Koomson, The Ice Cream Girls, is scheduled to be made into a TV drama which will air in Spring 2013.

No doubt I’ll be comparing the TV series to the novel when it comes out, and although the screen versions never quite compare to the books, I’m still super excited that  it has been given the green light. When I heard the news, it got me thinking what other books by black British authors would make for good TV? So Mr TV Commissioner, if you’re reading, here are my suggestions.

LOVE ME by Gemma Weekes

I adore this little book. I so, so, so wished it had received the exposure it deserved, because it’s  one of few books that I’ve read that perfectly captures  the elements of being a young black girl in Blighty. The vernacular, the streets, the places and spaces so reminded me of my life as a single, childless twenty-something living in the big smoke that I read through the first few chapters feeling like I was hopscotching down memory lane. What starts off as a classic tale of unrequited love between the original awkward black girl, Eden, and her sexy, self-assured object of desire – Zed – suddenly shifts gears, transferring into a heart-wrenching tale about family secrets, redemption, cultural history and a woman’s journey toward self-discovery. It was not only beautifully written but traversed between the gritty urban streets of London and New York city, to the lush, earthy landscape of St Lucia. I can imagine this transferring beautifully on-screen.

BITTER CHOCOLATE by Lesley Lokko

Remember that old school eighties drama set in Australia, about a woman who got attacked by a crocodile but managed to shell out major moola for some pretty amazing plastic surgery, re-emerging as a successful model? I can’t recall the name of the series, but I remember it being a riveting drama that kept me on the edge of my seat alongside the rest of the nation. Although there aren’t any deadly animals involved, Bitter Chocolate by Lesley Lokko reminds me of that old school drama. The best way to describe this book is EPIC. The characters are EPIC. The book size (at 500 plus pages) is EPIC. The plot = EPIC, it’s just one big, gregarious, over the top piece of fiction that would make for an ideal TV mini series. The story is essentially a cautionary tale about how decisions we make could potentially negatively impact our lives. I can’t recall any narrative with black central characters getting the blockbuster treatment on British TV, so Bitter Chocolate would be perfect in all it’s brash, glamorous, melodramatic splendour.

ON BEAUTY by Zadie Smith 

For some reason programme makers have a hard time processing the fact that a black middle class exists in this country. They have no problem portraying  us as the underclass (see intro), or the ‘barely getting by’ type of working class (think Patrick Truman, market trader, Winston, or any other Black character to have graced Albert Square), but as educated, socially mobile, aspirational? You’d have to search long and hard to find anything of that nature on the box. For this reason I’d like to throw Zadie Smith’s On Beauty into the mix. Although the novel about two rival middle class families – one black, and one interracial – received countless accolades, it seemed to polarize a lot of readers. But l really liked it. It made Ivy League academia and intellectualism look crazy, sexy, cool. Also some of the social issues examined i.e. cultural identity in mixed race families, atheism versus traditional, black Christian values, would make for compelling viewing.

UGLY Constance Briscoe  

There was such a buzz surrounding this book when it first came out that I’m quite surprised it hasn’t been optioned for a TV show already. Based on the best-selling memoir by Constance Briscoe, UGLY tells the harrowing tale of Briscoe who suffered physical abuse at the hands of her mother who disliked her for being a repeated bed wetter, and in her twisted eyes, ‘ugly’. Despite physical punishment being illegal in this country, there are still a considerable amount of folks within the Black community who continue to support it as a means of punishment. And although Briscoe’s case was extreme, a televised version of her book would present such a great opportunity to bring the issue to the forefront. Couple that with the fact that as a narrative it’s well-plotted, engrossing and has a positive, fairytale ending – and voila,you’re onto a ratings winner!

 

 

 

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Cocoa Read: The Rose Petal Beach

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Take a peek of the cover art for Dorothy Koomson’s forthcoming novel The Petal Beach. Isn’t it gorge? I love the juxtaposition of the fresh, clean background with the scarlet petals. And can I get an amen for the gorgeous profile of the cocoa toned protagonist on the cover? Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge Dorothy Koomson fan, and her latest sounds like another pulsating page turner. Check out the blurb:

Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of a terrible crime – but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into free-fall. Scared and confused, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But her choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn . . .

Dorothy Koomson is a best-selling author who has written eight novels. The Rose Petal Beach, is published by Quercus and is on sale the first week in September. Look out for a review at a later date. 

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