Ladies n' Genminminmin' (er, min...) absolutely thrilled & delighted to be welcoming Josette Bushell Mingo, Principal of The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama to the 'Clearing'.
In the 1st of a series of shows whereby I'll be using the vehicle of the podcast to help amplify the reputation of The Central School, whilst also getting to meet and record some of its illustrious Alumni, with Josette agreeing to go first. I too trained there as a Drama Teacher circa 1982-86.
Here also to break new ground together, as our conversation is being simultaneously "signed" for the Film version of the programme, by the wonderful deaf-theatre signer Sherrie-Eugene Hart, praised by Director Sally Cookson as being "the best in the business".
Previously the Head of Acting at Stockholm University of the Arts, Sweden, Josette Bushell-Mingo is an award-winning actor and director whose career has included performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Manchester Royal Exchange. She was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Rafiki in the West End production of The Lion King and she starred in the internationally acclaimed production Nina: A Story about Me and Nina Simone.
As a director, Josette Bushell-Mingo was Founder and Artistic Director of PUSH, a Black-led theatre festival with the Young Vic Theatre.
For 13 years, she was also the Artistic Director for The National Touring Swedish Deaf Theatre ensemble Tyst Teater, where her work focused on fostering the understanding, respect and potential of sign language arts and the artistic, linguistic and cultural rights of the deaf.
As a director and teacher, Josette travels internationally giving lectures and workshops in the creation of sign language theatre, cultural diversity challenges and inclusion.
More about Josette Bushell Mingo:
An articulate Aquarian of African descent, Josette Bushell-Mingo is a genuine East Ender. Born in February years ago and brought up in Plaistow, Josette first made her mark as an elite athlete, training for the 100 metre sprint, moving on to the relay and then going from track to field, for shot put and discus. Josette learned discipline early in life, together with the power of purpose and the talent for dealing with disappointment. Later Josette applied the same disciplines in landing an Olivier award for her role as the shaman Rafiki in the West End production of the now global hit musical, "The Lion King:.
In time, Josette left London for Stockholm where she was Director of the National Deaf Theatre of Sweden for over 10 years.
Sources of inspiration for Josette include Maya Angelou and Nina Simone and inclusion remains a central issue in Josette’s approach to her personal and professional life. She is only the second woman ever to become Principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and the first ever of African descent.
Josette relishes the challenge of successfully navigating complicated constellations this entails and is passionate about eliminating racism, sexism and class-related prejudice wherever she can. Josette sees the extraordinary world of the Arts as the single most important champion of civilisation - as a human right that should be defended fearlessly by everyone for everyone.
Josette herself remains powerfully optimistic but never complacent. “It’s all going to be ok - and if it’s not, we’ll sort it out.” Her language is plain yet elegant. This is a poet on roller skates, with a quietly beaming smile and a wealth of wisdom, experience, strength and hope to share with anyone lucky enough to come within range - anyone with ears to hear or eyes to read the sign language that Josette makes so readily available.
Lucky you, you are within range of Josette Bushell-Mingo right here, right now.