Artistic Director Yamin Choudury, Executive Director Jo Hemmant, Chair of the Board Sir William Atkinson, and the whole team at Hackney Empire, announce three Trustee appointments.
Hackney Empire Creative Futures alumna, and now West End producer, Jasmyn Fisher-Ryner will join the Board, alongside Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, award-winning actor and director and current Principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and Soheb Panja, the founder and editor of Field7, a new media business aimed at people working on climate solutions.
Jasmyn Fisher-Ryner has been involved in Hackney Empire’s Creative Futures Programme from a young age, first joining it as a 13-year-old through the Youth Forum (now called Young Producers) where she co-produced an under-18s rave and DJ night called Epicentre held three times a year. Through this first exposure to Creative Futures, she joined the two-week Artist Development Programme (ADP) in which she performed as a dancer for four years, also taking on work with associate theatre company Twist, where she performed Macbeth at the Edinburgh Fringe for three weeks. Wanting to develop her professional skills and to give back to the programme, Jasmyn became a mentor on ADP and was supported to take training so she could become a facilitator, leading the design and delivery of workshops with other young people. Through her experience as a facilitator and mentor she sought to pursue further work offstage, as well as taking part in the Hackney Empire’s Writers’ Room programme run in partnership with the Royal Court. With this newfound passion and skill, Jasmyn took a leadership role with Creative Futures programmes, leading on the writing, supporting the development of ADP productions and taking on an assistant producer role on Alter Ego and a touring mental health event.
Jasmyn is now a producer at the Royal Court Theatre as well as an independent producer, writer, and facilitator from East London. She recently was nominated for the ‘Best Producer’ award at the Black British Theatre Awards in 2021 for producing and platforming For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy at the Royal Court Theatre.
Hackney Empire are investors in the West End transfer of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, on which she is lead producer.
Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE is Principal at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Previously the Head of Acting at Stockholm University of the Arts, Sweden, Josette Bushell-Mingo is an award-winning actor and director whose career has included performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Manchester Royal Exchange. She was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Rafiki in the West End production of The Lion King and she starred in the internationally acclaimed production Nina: A Story about Me and Nina Simone.
As a director, Josette Bushell-Mingo was Founder and Artistic Director of PUSH, a Black-led theatre festival with the Young Vic Theatre. Through her work with PUSH, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the arts, a Judy Craymer Award for Innovation, and the Southbank Cultural Diversity Award.
For 13 years, she was also the Artistic Director for The National Touring Swedish Deaf Theatre ensemble Tyst Teater, where her work focused on fostering the understanding, respect and potential of sign language arts and the artistic, linguistic and cultural rights of the deaf.
Born in London and based in Sweden since 2005, she is an active spokesperson for inclusive arts and politics. She co-founded PUSH’s sister organisation in Sweden, TRYCK, which works to inspire and challenge the artistic and cultural representation of Afro-Swedes and African descent artists on national stages in Sweden.
Soheb Panja is the founder and editor of Field7, a new media business aimed at people working on climate solutions. In 2021 he hosted a climate festival in Hackney Wick called FieldFest. He was previously cofounder of Courier magazine, a print magazine which started life on a few streets in east London.
Sir William Atkinson said, “I am excited to welcome our three new Trustees to the Hackney Empire Board. These colleagues bring a wealth of experience of theatre, commerce and community engagement. Over the last five years the Trustees and Leadership Team working in close partnership, have transformed the fortunes of our much-loved theatre. We are determined to build on our previous best and see our new team members as integral to this process.”
Yamin Choudury and Jo Hemmant said, “A board is simply a group of people who are responsible for the governance and strategic direction of an organisation. But the Hackney Empire board is so much more then that; they represent who we are and who we want to be, and they are often the last line of defence for the agitators, the overlooked and the undermined, who comprise many of us at Hackney Empire and those whom we work with. We know that Jasmyn, Josette and Soheb will work tirelessly, and with love, to ensure that Hackney Empire and everything this organisation represents, is protected throughout the challenges of the future.”