Click here to print page

Thelwell takes on new role

BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Observer writer

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

BUDDING actor Sule Thelwell is still basking after being recently accepted to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at University of London in England. The three-year tenure begins on October 5.

His only concern is raising the monies to cover his financial expenses.

“While researching the best drama schools in the world, I came across phrases like: most prestigious, high profile, world class, the oldest and most traditional, but the one word that stood out for me was 'unique'. In every article I read, their central theme was uniqueness. From its teaching style to its student body... The word itself is easily identifiable for me. Living on an island where my perspective, interests, and goals have always been different, I can't help but feel as such --- unique,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Founded in 1906, the tertiary institution is dubbed as being “the hardest drama school to get into” with an acceptance rate of 1 per cent. Of more than 5,000 new applicants, Thelwell was among the 17 to be successful.

The total cost for first year is 36,000. So, he started a GoFundMe account to raise 27,929 of that amount. Up to yesterday, he amassed 5,560.

The 19-year-old, however, explained that this is only a tiny fraction of what is required for the period of study.

“Tuition, housing, travelling, and other expenses for the tenure is 110,000 (almost $20,000,000). Whilst I appreciate the support I've been getting, this is the first step on a long three-year road,” he said.

Thelwell began performing at age six. Fast-forward to a decade later, he co-wrote a piece titled Mine Your Mind that was awarded seven gold medals at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's parish competition. Thelwell also won an individual gold for acting. He was part of a mini thriller called, Mi Nuh See, Mi Nuh Hear, performed by the de Carteret College 2019/2020 drama Club, which commented on the spike in missing girls in Jamaica. The youngster's other theatrical involvements include: QUILT's ReAshore'd, that was nominated for 15 Actor Boy Awards; lead role in an international short film called Fear; being featured in an upcoming music video by Universal Music Group for Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry; and representing Jamaica at CARIFESTA 2019, in Trinidad and Tobago.

Thelwell revealed that theatre arts has helped to groom him academically.

“The training I receive from The QUILT Performing Arts Company caters to my holistic development, both as a performer and student. Rehearsals take place on the weekends whilst I go to school during the week. In addition, my director, Rayon McLean, also a Glenmuir High alumni, ensures the high school students within the company do well by using big performances and travel as leverage to raise our grades and have us study during long rehearsals when we have exams. In essence, low grades mean no trip or performances. QUILT not only ensures our artistic development by teaching us responsibility and balance but also caters to our safety providing mentors and transportation, especially when we have late-night rehearsals,” he said.

He achieved eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) passes at Glenmuir High School in Clarendon, before moving to de Carteret College in Manchester, where he attained five unit one Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) passes. He is currently completing another five in unit two.

While many youngsters thrive to pursue medicine or law, Thewell added that his QUILT colleagues continuously fuel his passion for theatre arts.

“My belief is that the ultimate human catharsis is happiness, and whatever I choose to do in my lifetime must make me happy. I thought my love for the arts manifested itself through my ability to paint and draw, so for a long time I was en route to becoming an architect. My mother and I had a solid plan for my tertiary level education right after graduating from Glenmuir. However, the plan changed that very summer after being exposed to QUILT for the first time,” he said.

In 10 years, Thelwell hopes to have made his mark in Jamaica and the diaspora.

“I started this year beaming at the prospect of my career journey and very excited to see where I am at the end of this decade. In 10 years time I see the difference I've made. I see myself as an ambassador for Jamaican culture. I see myself spearheading the development of many media houses to increase local production value; I see Jamaica having a thriving film and TV industry. I see QUILT becoming an institution that creates more artists like me, does outreach projects for our youth, and creates opportunities for Jamaican's creatives to thrive in. In 10 years time I see the difference I've made,” he told the Observer.