Published on December 6, 2022
Since graduating from HVGS (2005) – Melissa-Kelly Franklin, an alumni student has taken the world by storm. After completing her studies, she moved to London and is now chasing her dreams. She is a prime example of how anything is possible if you set your mind to it! Melissa-Kelly took a (quick) break from her busy schedule to have a chat with us about what’s next, what a typical day in her life is like and more.
Read about Melissa-Kelly Franklin’s story below.
What made you decide to go into writing & directing as a career?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a precise moment, because I’ve been involved in storytelling in some form since I was quite young. My love of stories is the reason why I studied English Literature and History at university. It wasn’t until I finished my degree and moved to London that I really started taking my first steps towards a career in film and theatre-making – born from undertaking a Diploma of Classical Acting at LAMDA, and then combining both my academic and creative selves to write and direct plays and films. Sometimes it’s leaving places that you’re comfortable that is the perfect catalyst!
What motivates you? Keeps you going?
My work is often driven by political themes, such as women’s reproductive rights, climate change, refugee rights. I find that as a result there is a sense of urgency intrinsic to my work that motivates me to keep going with it, regardless of its eventual destination. It’s a way that I can use my skills to contribute to political conversations about social justice and respond to the world around me. My plays in particular all engage in political issues through a creative lens – We’ll Dance on the Ash of the Apocalypse is about climate change, Reclaim the Night examines gender-based violence and women’s rights, and Paradise Lost reckons with Australia’s inhumane offshore refugee processing policies. I think the arts can be a powerful tool for inviting us to empathise with people outside our usual spheres, and wrestle with challenging social and political ideas.
What’s your big dream?
In many ways, I’m living it! I always wanted to live overseas, and London is one of the great cities to live and work if you’re in the creative sector. I love the rich cultural life here, and the diversity of people and places – London feels like a city with many personalities. I’m also working in a field I love and I have the privilege of meeting and working with so many fascinating, talented people from different backgrounds. This constantly inspires me.
What’s next for you?
I recently returned from the Australian Theatre Festival in New York, where my latest play Paradise Lost received a staged reading as part of the Australian Theatre Festival NYC New Play Award 2022. The plan is to showcase the play again with staged readings in both London and Australia, with the aim of finding it a home in full production.
I have a few other projects cooking – some new play ideas, and I’m also working on the script of my debut feature film. I usually have several projects going at varying stages of development.
What does a day in your life look like?
That really depends on the time of year. I’m an associate lecturer at the University of Greenwich, and teach English and Writing for Theatre periodically throughout the academic year, so when I’m doing that I’m usually juggling my own projects at the same time. When I’m not lecturing, my days vary depending on whether I’m writing a script, rehearsing a play, or prepping for a shoot. Sometimes I’ll be working with actors on character development, or discussing mood boards and visual style with my cinematographer or production designer. If I’m writing, it’s very much solo; writing from home or in a café. The variety is one of the things I love about what I do – no two days are the same. All of them involve a morning coffee though!
What advice would you give students at HVGS?
Do what you love, not what you think is expected of you. If you study what you love, you’ll naturally excel at it and that joy and positivity will permeate all aspects of your life.