Today’s interview is with the dynamic Sharon Borthwick of Borthwick Performing Arts and Borthwick Casting. Sharon spoke to me from her smart studios at the Business and Technical Park in Rainham Road South. For those of you who are old enough to remember that’s the old Rhone-Poulenc site – or if you’re even older like me May and Baker’s! Borthwick Casting is a talent agency for children and supporting artists and Borthwick Performing Arts trains young people in all the theatre disciplines. The studios are smart and airy and Sharon’s office is beautifully decorated with the headshots of all the young people she represents interspersed with fairy lights. The result is a beautiful touch; putting her clients up in lights!
Sharon (on the right) with her office manager, Lisa (left) and Kerry her admin assistant.
ES: So, Sharon, to start off what’s your connection to Dagenham?
SB: I moved to Dagenham from Stratford, where I’d grown up, when I was 24. It quickly became my home. My children grew up and went to school here and I now, of course, I run my business here.
ES: Dagenham might seem a funny place to open a performing arts school and talent agency. Why did you decide to set up your business here?
SB: I could see that there was a lot of untapped talent among the children here and I wanted to give them a chance to progress in the business or simply attend classes and enjoy themselves doing something they love. Also, my premises are local to where I live – plus I had heard a rumour that a new film studios was being planned. We’ve waited four years but fortunately, finally, this has turned out to be true. I’m delighted to say Barking and Dagenham Council approved the plans last month. It’s going to be a world-class complex with six sound stages, production offices and set-construction workshops. It’s going to be a huge asset for Dagenham, especially as it’s estimated it will create 1200 jobs. And it’s right on my doorstep so I am hoping it will provide work for all the talented people on my books.
ES: That’s amazing news, Sharon. But apart from the new film studios, what else do you love about Dagenham?
SB: The community spirit. I’ve always felt a good sense of community here. People are good and help each other and that’s how it should be.
ES: Tell us something about Dagenham you don’t think many people are aware of.
SB: How many famous and talented people come from the area.
I pause, waiting for her to continue, but she’s too modest, so I’m going to tell you. Sharon’s son is my favourite EastEnders’ actor, Jamie Borthwick. Not only is he a brilliant, natural actor he’s someone who needs more storylines. (Producers and scriptwriters are you listening?)
ES: Now, as someone who wasn’t born here, did you know that the term Banjo is peculiar to Dagenham?
SB: I didn’t! I’ve never lived in one but my friend has so I know what a banjo is. You can’t live here without knowing that.
ES: Although you didn’t spend your childhood here, what’s your fondest memory of Dagenham?
SB: Going down the Princess Bowling Alley. I loved it there. And I wish they’d bring back the Town Show. I used to love it and I miss it.
ES: How would you like to see Dagenham ten years from now?
SB: I’d love to see it as the centre of the UK Film Industry.
ES: I’m sure it will be, Sharon. And now for the two toughest questions… Do you prefer fish and chips or pie and mash?
SB: Pie and mash! I’m from Stratford, don’t forget.
ES: And is it Dagenham Essex or Dagenham East London?
SB: Dagenham Essex. Once again, I’m from Stratford so to me Dagenham is in Essex.
Thank you so much, Sharon! Lovely talking to you and good luck with the exciting future awaiting you and your students and clients.
If you would like to enquire about dance, drama and singing classes or auditioning for representation when the books are open please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.borthwickcasting.co.uk or ring 020 3039 3116