Interview with Dior Clarke | Playing Up Alumnus and ShortFLIX Winner

Starting Playing Up came at a good time for me – I kept getting to the final stages of drama school auditions and just missing out. I had become pretty bitter, and felt that I didn’t have a place in the industry. Playing Up surrounded me with people who, just like me, were facing various different disadvantages – real people – which reminded me that there’s a place for everyone in this industry regardless of ethnicity, sexuality or class. 

The course allowed me to find out who I was, and importantly how to use that to my advantage rather than pretending to be someone else. NYT was the first place that I walked into and was able to just be fully myself. 

I always saw myself as an actor, I didn’t see myself writing or directing – definitely not for Sky Arts! But at NYT, I came across Paul Edwards who taught us to see ourselves not just as actors, but as practitioners – that lesson really stuck with me and encouraged me to try writing. The story of BATTY BOY was one I always wanted to tell, but it was NYT that gave me the confidence to actually do it. 

When I saw ShortFLIX advertised, I thought I’d go for it – and now BATTY BOY is being produced for Sky Arts. It feels like a really big achievement; I’ve been given such a big platform, and I hope the film can educate people on the homophobia out there, change minds, and give young gay black men a voice. I want it to give black gay men who are struggling the confidence to say ‘yes, I do exist’. 

It’s about time someone shared this kind of story. Five years ago, I didn’t really believe there were other black gay people out there – if I’d seen a film like back then, it would have reassured me that I wasn’t alone, and perhaps it wouldn’t have taken me as long to realise who I was.

The only reason I am where I am today is because of the arts – it’s a community that embraces you for you in every single way. Many other gay black men don’t have that support, but I hope by putting BATTY BOY out into the media, they’ll find it within the film. 

Dior Clarke joined NYT through Playing Up. He has recently been named as a finalist in shortFLIX, meaning his short film Batty Boy has been selected by a panel of commissioners to receive a production award of up to £10k each, and now will be produced by Sky Arts. 

ShortFLIX is a collaboration between Creative England, Sky Arts and the National Youth Theatre. It is aimed at aspiring new filmmakers aged 18-25 who are not currently in full-time education, employment or training. Find out more here

Want to get involved with film and the National Youth Theatre? Check out our Acting for Screen Masterclass!

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