This Sussex Life. Student Jordi Carter: “I went from performing in the ACCA to doing it in my kitchen”
Jordi Carter, third-year Drama and Film Studies student, describes the challenges and benefits of studying under COVID.
My parents came to the UK in the 80s from the West Indies. Because I’m the first to go to university, my family wanted me to pursue something traditionally academic, such as law or languages. But when I was young I used to read a lot, and was so taken by how books created a world I could just get lost in. I have now found that in drama and film.
Sussex was the first place that came up when I Googled ‘Drama and Film Studies’. I looked at the modules and they immediately drew me in. When I was 18 I thought drama was just studying plays and acting, but what Sussex is really good at is encouraging you to see society and social change through an artistic lens. I’ve learned so much about anthropology and migration through my studies. I never thought I would get that.
I wanted to investigate how theatre and film have the ability to ‘think’ about the society we live in, and how performers, filmmakers and creatives use these art forms to shed light on otherwise unnoticed spaces. I believe that these art forms in particular allow us to explore human relatability that leaves us with more understanding of different social situations.
Before Sussex I had largely been exposed to Hollywood and mainstream cinema, and now I have been introduced to world cinema, art cinema, film festivals. Film is so open to abstract work that catalyses social change and speaks on the current climate and the society we live in.
In this century we are hearing a lot more Black voices and ethnic minority voices and there’s a lot more representation than there has been in the past, especially with Black film directors such as Steve McQueen and Barry Jenkins, who made Moonlight. That was the first film we watched for Film Studies – and it’s become one of my favourites. Learning from different cultures and creatively telling cultural narratives is now at the heart of why I want to be in the theatre and film industries.
We are taught that failure is the best part of learning. It’s important to notice your mental blocks and understanding ways to work around that. I realised that as a performer, I had a difficulty in being spontaneous. That was one thing that I wanted to address with a specialist module I took, called Performing Practices. I did a performance piece where I contorted my body in different ways to connect with myself, so using the body as memory rather than memorising texts. It was quite therapeutic to see my body as an instrument. I do these contorting exercises all the time now. For me, storytelling through embodiment is something I’ve developed a talent for as a performer.
Everyone has a creative side – and it’s not that hard to find. It’s through exploring that creative side that you get to figure out what it is you want to say and how it is you want to say it, whether that’s storytelling through character embodiment, picking up a camera or writing a script. Theatre and film in society has created such a large arena for young people, in particular to share their stories and inspire and influence young people to the same.
During the pandemic it’s been important for young people to get their voices heard. With the amount of communication technology now available, it’s possible to create and show what you’re doing through social media. A couple of my friends have created performance pieces or film projects that they’ve put on the internet and that are getting so much attention. It’s inspiring to see what they’ve done in being able to share stories that aren’t necessarily told in mainstream media.
Lockdown threw me a bit. I went from performing in the ACCA [Attenborough Cenre for Creative Arts] to doing it in my kitchen space. But I have always tried to look on the positive side. Having online classes has given me a lot more time to do research and my own thing. I have always tried to organise my time so that I make the most of it. Now I have a lot more time to figure out what I want to do.
At Sussex you get taught a bit of everything and then you can specialise in what inspires you most. But you also have all this other knowledge. I believe I have become a lot more knowledgeable about society and culture and art than if I had gone to a different university. I do feel very lucky because I have grown in such a short space of time. Wherever I go next, I’ll always have Sussex to thank for the creative individual I’ve become.
This is part of our This Sussex Life series.
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