Pulling into the busy car park in the early afternoon, at the civic hall in Grays Essex, I feel the buoyancy in the atmosphere. I pull up and absorb my surroundings. The rejoicing of children and teenagers as they run across the car park to the venue, laughter from the adults as they converse in conversation.
I’m at The National Entertainment Awards, which recognises and rewards creative talents in the music and dance industry, for their hard work and dedication.
As I approach the doors, Mike from Picture Plus photography warmly greets me. It is thanks to this top fashion and event photographer that I’m here, as he kindly invited me along for camera experience. Thanks to a mutual friend of ours, Gayle, who works in recruitment for ex military and military spouses.
We venture inside the red carpet event and everybody seems in fantastic spirit, over 50 acts, excited to be performing. Their managers, team and support crews in tow. Even the organisers and crew all appear in great spirits, as Mike introduces me to them.
A warm reception from the show founder organiser Lee Knell, who created the event and kindly allowed me VIP access to all areas. He also runs Factor Essex and other music and dance events alongside also being the leading vocalist of band ‘Affirmation’.
Tonight’s hosts are James Grant, from Adhoc Entertainment Ltd and the lovely DJ and presenter Lucy Bolton.
The hall steadily fills with the competitors as sound checks are being carried out on stage, and then the show brief is announced. Still, the atmosphere is buzzing, and it amazes me how confident everyone is. Nobody seems nervous, which I’m sure is because the participants have a natural proficiency to be in this vibrant environment and on stage.
This show is the perfect production for acts to gain stage experience, being in front of a packed out hall facilitating 750 guests.
Im given a quick grand tour of the venue, from a well organised backstage to the press area, run by Alex Moore at take ten productions and Tommy Wathen, digital reporter at Essex Live. Then Mike begins to help me with camera setup, explaining settings for the lighting conditions. and as the audience now files in, I’m quick to find myself a place to take photos.
I nestle in at the side of the audience, able to capture some stage shots… but my passion is capturing the impromptu photos. Capturing the audience as they look on, absorbed by the acts on stage. Capturing the performers backstage, having fun at this show they have been preparing for for so long. Also photos of the crew, busy ensuring the show runs smoothly. All of them enjoying the whole experience.
The talent blew me away. This event clearly a valued platform that sets standards for talent of all ages to get recognised and just do what they love doing. The audience boasted industry professionals, including record labels and X factor organisers.
Guest performers included American rapper ‘Cream Boomtown’, X factors ‘Thomas Bleasby’ and The Voice semi finalist ‘Jordan Grey’.
Pre Voting for the nominees and winners for this annual event, appears to have all be done via a social media presence.
Throughout the evening of acts performing, the nominees and ‘Brit style’ awards were presented by various distinguished professionals in the entertainment industry, including:
Laurence Hobbs… director at charthouse music
Jonny Mac… George Michael tribute act
Jordan Grey… the first transgender on TV show The Voice
Andrew Stone… TV’s Pineapple dance studios
Darren Martin… songwriter and producer at record label Bucks music,
Jon Mortar… Vixen records (also creator of rage against the machine)
Jamie Long… singer, actor and talent manager
Maisie Smith… singer and TV’s Eastenders actor
The categories and successful winners were as follows:
Best male solo… Johnny Mac
Best sol dance act… Amber Cook
Outstanding achievement… Fusion Performers
Professional artist recognition… Jordan Grey
People’s choice award…. Jess Folley
Amateur artist recognition…. Diamond Vocal
Best group/band… Sweet Chix
Best female solo… Ami Harman
Best young breakthrough… Daisy Benson
Special recognition…..Funky Voices
Seea choice award….HSD
Best unique act… Daniel Hardy-Wallace
Best dance/performing art school… Mandy Ellen Performing Arts College
Best dance act… Star Wars Fusion Performers
Best original artist…. Robyn Regan
I managed to catch a mid evening break where I was able to mingle backstage and at the bar. I noted the winning acts being ushered off the red carpet, straight to the press conference area for their interviews, where they were treated with the stardom respect they had earned . At the bar I converged with high profiles in the industry, including contestants that had found stardom from this event, performing on several reality tv programmes. It struck me as a parallel universe to my fitness and bikini industry. Those who do it for self development and as a hobby, to those who are trying to make money, goal oriented, career driven, wanting fame and all the trimmings.
I was gaining a real insight into the showbiz atmosphere. Evidently it’s a fabulous life of networking, glamour, great atmosphere and hard work .
As the show came to an end, after approximately 4 hours, it was clear what an important platform this show is to entertainment hopefuls, looking for that break. It’s abundance of industry professionals, many of whom have either found their way to stardom via networking here, and those big names and brands searching for their next unique find.
My conclusion is, if you have dance or music talent, then The National Entertainment Awards is a must event for your calendar. You can find more information on their other upcoming events on Facebook and twitter SEEA .
But ultimately, whatever your talents or passions are… Pursue them, live life to the full and be the best version of yourself.
A massive thank you to Lee Knell and the team for allowing me the opportunity to gain insight into the entertainment industry at this well organised event and making me feel so welcome.