There’s nothing quite like being told “well done, you did a great job!”
While Hollywood continues to address the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, with arguable varying levels of success, depending on who you speak to, it’s gratifying to see that some individuals have forged ahead to create wonderful platforms that celebrate the outstanding talents and hard work of people in the theatre, music, Film/TV and fashion industries. The International Achievement Recognition Awards, taking place on Saturday 2 September 2017, is one such platform. We spoke to the founder, Helen Imuaphe, to find out more about the awards and why it’s a level playing field for all.
Melan Magazine: Why did you found the IARA Awards?
Helen Imuaphe: IARA was founded to celebrate the hard work of individuals in the film/TV, arts & entertainment industries who are exceptional and positive role models, with the hope that we can motivate them to do more and inspire the younger generation to realise that their potential is unlimited.
MM: What distinguishes IARA from other awards that recognise diverse audiences?
HI: At IARA, diversity and equality is integral to everything we do. We acknowledge the remarkable effort of actors in film, television and stage. Our platform empowers, unites and brings extraordinary talents from the UK and the rest of the world under one umbrella, recognizing their efforts in their respective industries, and helping to foster collaboration and business opportunities.
MM: What challenges are you most proud to have overcome?
HI: Overcoming distractions that could have derailed the purpose of what IARA stands for, and the ability to stand firm for what I believe in. To be honest, it is much harder as a woman in this industry.
MM: What’s the process for picking the winners?
HI: I have a team of industry professionals for each category, for example, in the theatre groups, we have directors, stage actors, and even professional critics. We also have categories with a public voting platform where the public decides the winners, such as the Best TV Presenter, Best Artists, Best DJ, etc.
Other categories have judges who whittle down the nominees, assessing their work/craft, and voting until a winner is decided upon.
I do not get involved in this process, as I believe it is best to leave it to the experts, so that accolades are given to those who truly deserve it. I arrive on the night of the ceremony just like every other guest, excited to see who will win.
MM: What success are you most proud of?
HI: Being able to stay focused in an industry where there isn’t much support, perhaps because of the colour of skin and background.
MM: What’s your professional background?
HI: I studied law at university, but in addition to IARA, I am a business woman with my own fashion label.
MM: What can guests expect on the day?
HI: A lot of fun, entertainment, amazing acts, including a hilarious comedian hosting the show, and of course, the celebration of all the hard work by all of our nominees. It will be a night to remember!
MM: What skills do you need to run such an event?
HI: Firstly, you must be passionate about what you do. Secondly, you must be extremely well organised and be able to plan ahead. Also, most importantly, surround yourself with the right people and choose the right team.
MM: How do you juggle family and business?
HI: By setting realistic goals, boundaries, and constant multitasking. It can be quite challenging; especially when your children are still very young.
MM: Who inspires you?
HI: My husband. He infuses strength into me whenever I feel like giving up. He reminds me how far I’ve come and reminds me that to be successful you have to persevere through daunting obstacles.
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