First to enter is Jeanette. Attired in an elegant blouse, she is ready for her close-up. Her sweet smile and murmur of ‘good morning’ gets immediate replies from the rest of us in the studio. Jeanette’s blue eyes will not get completely accustomed to the dim lighting, they are not as sharp as they used to be. Bradley Lincoln, her son, standing a few inches taller is leading her from behind and with a tender hand on her waist, he guides her to turn left into the studio.
The pair make their way to the sofas. After a long train excursion from Manchester, tea with milk for Bradley and water for Jeanette puts everyone at ease. Mother and son sit with the warm sun on their backs, facing Rhoda and Andy. Angela, Andy’s assistant is away from the studio today. Andy’s younger daughter, Emilia and I are sat parallel to the group, excited for the discussion to begin. Faint music can be heard playing from a distance. Bradley is usually the one asking the questions. In 2006, he founded Mix-d, an organisation that aims to elevate discussions on mixed race identity. Mix-d is today a place where all people of multiple heritage are able to express their feelings on the subject. This fantastic organisation has several ongoing projects, including an information pack offering helpful advice for parents and imminent parents of mixed race children. Last year they held the second Mix-d Face, the UK’s first modelling competition for people of mixed race and judged by Jade Thompson, the winner of Britain’s and Ireland’s Next Top Model.
Today, it’s Rhoda who will be asking the questions. Andy explains the project originated from several questions that kept resonating in his mind. “What impact, if any, does having an English father and a mother of Afro-Caribbean descent have on my children? How does the world’s view of my three children affect the way they see themselves?” Bradley nods in between Andy queries. “Okay, I get that.”
Andy concludes, “and it would be interesting to have a project where we could get people from different mixed backgrounds to share their life experiences and bring new faces and a new dimension to the discussion.” Bradley is the ideal candidate for this project. He has spent his life negating his own racial identity and brings this determination to helping others at various stages in their own understanding.
Pressing ‘play’ on the video recorder, Rhoda adds, “before we get started, we would like to thank you both for taking part.” There’s that smile of Jeanette’s again. She has a sip of water.
Excerpts from Bradley and Jeanette’s testimony.
Rhoda Where are your parents from?
Bradley My Mum is white English, my Dad is black Jamaican.
After an extremely busy couple of months in the studio we have at last had time to concentrate on the Mixed project again. The 22nd of June seems a long time ago, but it was a special day for Mixed as Rachel and Isabel (Rachel’s mother) both kindly gave up some of their valuable time to come in and take part in the project. We promised we’d show the final image for all to see as soon as possible, (ahem, five months later) and we’re finally there! We also thought it would be a great opportunity for a further detailed re-cap….
Isabel, whose grandmother was Spanish, is from the Philippines. Her grandfather was a doctor who was one of the founders of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in Southeast Asia. She spoke in depth from the perspective of a mother to three mixed race children and as a Filipino living in England bringing up her mixed family; Rachel the middle daughter of three, the eldest Angela; a ballet dancer and model who runs her own ballet school and the youngest Rebecca, who performed in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams and is currently a series regular on the UK TV series Holby City. Rachel spoke in detail, about her childhood in Nottingham, her life in the film industry, and her own perspective of being of both British and Filipino heritage, and says that she feels very much apart of both worlds. Rachel’s father is Baron De Longueuil, a doctor and hypnotist of English-Scottish, French-Canadian descent. Now living in the USA, she spoke about the contrast of life in America with her experiences growing up in England.
Both Rachel and Isabel are very proud of their Filipino heritage. The two of them now run a registered charity called The Padua Charitable Fund that raises money to build houses, hospitals and schools in poor areas of the Philippines. By 2024 they hope to reach their goal of ending poverty for five million poor families in the Philippines. As if that wasn’t an all-encompassing task in itself, Rachel is also global ambassador to a new and successful organic cosmetics company called Human Nature. Their philosophy is based on producing natural, locally sourced products, Fair trade, support for local farmers in developing high value crops, and ultimately in providing world-class yet affordable organic skin and hair care from the Philippines. Human Nature is the brainchild of Gawad Kalinga volunteers Anna Meloto-Wilk, Dylan Wilk and Camille Meloto. All three had the desire to do even more for their country, and Rachel wanted to do what she could to help.
We wondered where Rachel developed such a strong philanthropist spirit. She explained that it largely stems from her mixed heritage; she feels she has had the privilege of learning about and enjoying two distinct cultures and has been able to travel a great deal in her lifetime. Having seen such deprivation in the Philippines she became steeled into action, driven to do something about reversing this poverty.
There have been many more visitors to the studio since Rachel’s visit, and I’d like to say there would be at least one more Mixed update before 2012 comes around! But just in case, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Warner Street.
Last week we photographed Die Another Day Bond Girl Rachel Grant and her mother Isabel. Isabel is from the Philippines, while Rachel’s father is of English-Scottish descent.
As is now usual with the testimony, Rhoda Dakar joined us before the shoot for her customary cup of Earl Grey and together with Rachel and Isabel, we all sat down and discussed everything from the use of the word ‘Oriental’ to perceived multiculturalism. Rachel gave us a fascinating insight into her childhood experiences growing up in Nottingham and her current life in New York. Isabel talked about, among other things, a question in her head around her children’s ‘mixedness’- we’ll let them tell you in their own words… extracts to follow.
After a hectic week shooting commercially, today we were finally able to sit down and begin the process of choosing the best image from the shoot. This is always a challenge and a catalyst for much debate in the studio.