BDA’s Trustee, Ashley Kendall shows how breaking barriers helped him become one of BAFTA’s 2014 Breakthrough Brit stars

BDA Trustee and TV presenter, Ashley Kendall was selected as one of the talented 18 newcomers in 2014’s recent BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, an annual event that celebrates and supports the UK’s emerging talent and newest stars in film, television and games.

Hosted by BBC Radio 1 presenter Greg James, each of the Brits were presented to a room full of influential industry figures. 

“I was so surprised by the news,” reveals Ashley, “I had to read it again and again!”

Kendall found himself drawn to performing while attending the Royal School for the Deaf in Derby. His talent in BSL landed him a job at UK Deaf run media production company, Remark!

Appearing on the Community Channel’s, Punk Chef and Let’s Go Wild, CBBC’s My Life: Signing Off and the BBC’s See Hear, he was also a presenting lead on CBeebies’ groundbreaking Magic Hands. Kendall showed his skill in the children’s series that provides a mix of sign language, spoken word, music, animation and poetry – the first time poetry has ever been translated into BSL – with the aim of normalising disability with hearing children.

“Becoming a Breakthrough Brit means so much to me, because it’s about changing attitudes in the mainstream media about deaf people!

“I’ve been through a lot of barriers in my life, so having something like this shows that a deaf person can break through to the mainstream.

“Being successful is about getting around obstacles, meeting them head on and not letting them become a barrier to your success. It’s important to create networks, get to know people in your industry and create opportunities. 

“You need to show your skills and grab every opportunity to promote yourself. That’s how I got my job at Remark! Then things took off from there.”

“My main aim is to progress my career and grow my involvement with the hearing community. It’s important to get out of our deaf bubble and to introduce BSL in the mainstream media to raise its promotion and celebrate our deaf culture.

“To all the people who doubted me – all I can say is – I did it!”

Published in BDN December 2014 issue