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Holby City to take centre stage again

ALL SMILES: (from left) Festival director Dean Alexander with Hugh Quarshie; Beverly Lindsay, chair of the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK; Mark Davies, general manager of Hotel Indigo, and Sharonjit Shorcara, duty manager of Hampton by Hilton Birmingham

TO THOUSANDS of BBC TV viewers he’s Holby City’s dashing Dr Ric Griffin. But actor Hugh Quarshie is relishing another role as host of Birmingham’s sixth annual Music Video and Screen Awards (MVSAs) next month.

The star of the long-running medical drama will take centre stage at the prestigious event along with co-host Tameka Empson, who plays Kim Fox in EastEnders.

LAUNCH

The MVSAs are the highpoint of the week-long Black International Film Festival (BIFF) where this year festival director Dean Alexander will officially launch a guild of black actors and screen associates in order to provide better recognition for black screen professionals.

It’s a scheme which has won the backing of Quarshie who was in Birmingham to meet joint sponsors of the MVSAs, Hotel Indigo.

“These awards and the idea of a guild of black screen professionals are extremely important because black actors historically have tended to be marginalised,” said Quarshie, as he enjoyed a panoramic view of Birmingham from the 25th floor of The Cube where Hotel Indigo is based, along with Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill.

“The situation has improved over the years for those in front of the camera, but progress is still slow for those black professionals working behind the camera.”

Quarshie said he felt lucky to be working among the cast of Holby City, where he is now in his 11th year as Dr Griffin, involved in producing a staggering 52 episodes a year. Just under a third of the actors are from ethnic minority backgrounds, one of the highest percentages in a TV series.

He said he could understand the exodus of young black actors to the US, but urged up and coming stars in the UK to stay true to their roots.

When asked what advice he had for aspiring black actors, Quarshie said with a smile: “I would do my best to dissuade them, as it can be a tough, dispiriting industry. But if they were still determined I would say be pro-active. To young African actors I would say do not lose your connection with Africa – go and find out about where you came from.”

EXPERIENCE

Quarshie is speaking from personal experience - his family roots provided the material for one of the most intriguing episodes of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?

The son of a Ghanaian diplomat, Quarshie’s family history trail took him to Abee, a village in Africa where it turns out he may have a claim to be a chief there.
For now, it seems Holby City’s Dr Griffin is still the main role Quarshie wants to play despite his long experience as a Shakespearean actor and his work with the National Theatre.

In the meantime he is gearing up for the MVSAs, which will be held at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre (ICC) on Saturday October 27. Other big name stars will include Jimmy Akingbola, Janet Kay, Rick Clarke, Joelle Moses and Chucky Venn to name a few.

Dean Alexander, whose festival is part of Birmingham’s cultural Olympiad events for 2012, said: “The interest in the festival grows each year and I’ve had particular support from Marketing Birmingham.

“It’s a fantastic chance for people to see cutting edge independent films at first class venues throughout the week beginning October 20. It also provides a chance for volunteers to learn directly about photography, camera work and marketing through work experience platforms.”

For further details visit www.biffestival.co.uk.

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