Successful performer steps out of comfort zone to inspire children
Posted on 29th June 2023 at 11:56
“As a business owner, you must consider marketing, admin, recruitment etc and you are the head of every department. I really couldn’t have done any of it without the training and support from Head Office.”
Profile: Meet Kimisha Lewis, the new franchisee at Razzamataz Coventry. Kimisha trained at the prestigious Rose Bruford College with a BA(Hons) in Acting and was also a member of the National Youth Theatre. She has since gone on to have an exciting career in London’s West End and international touring as well as TV & voice over professional work.
Background: “I’ve worked professionally since graduating with primarily lots of tours all over the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe as well as Chicago, Peru and Romania. I’ve had many incredible experiences including performing in the show Noughts & Crosses, based on the book by Malorie Blackman. I actually watched my auntie in this show when I was a child and to get to perform in it, alongside my auntie who still acts, was just amazing.”
When theatres went dark: “Just before Covid hit, I got my first break in the West End, performing in a show called Upstart Crow, alongside David Mitchell in Ben Elton’s adaptation of the critically acclaimed BBC TV sitcom. We did a couple of shows then were told the devastating news about covid and it closed. Alongside my acting, I had always taught so I decided to start a teacher training course in a primary school. Although I loved working with the children, I wasn’t teaching them what I was passionate about, which was when I made the decision to open my own theatre school.”
Business experience: “I understood the day to day running of a theatre school from a teacher’s perspective, but other than that, absolutely no other business experience. As a teacher, you walk into the class and you know what you are going to teach, but you don’t give any other elements a second thought. But as a business owner, you must consider marketing, admin, recruitment etc and you are the head of every department. I really couldn’t have done any of it without the training and support from Head Office.”
Why Razzamataz: “I love the Razzamataz curriculum and giving children a rounded performing arts education. They get to study both musical theatre and the commercial genre and the Head Office team keeps up with the faced paced world of performing arts which is ever evolving. I also love the fact that the franchise fits around my life as a working performer; it is a business I can run and retain my acting career.”
Why franchising: “I didn’t know anything about franchising before I found out about Razzamataz and to be honest, a lot of my friends questioned why not just set up on my own. For me, having a network of experienced people that I can call on and get advice from was important and gives me peace of mind. Razzamataz has a system that works, and I like being part of a team for the support that I get.”
First steps into becoming a franchisee: “It was straightforward and simple. I first heard about Razzamataz via social media and then started to investigate the website and the other franchise schools. I booked an online Discovery Den, which was inclusive and very welcoming, putting me at ease straight away. Everything was transparent and very clear, and we were encouraged to ask lots of questions.”
Any worries or concerns: “I love working as a professional actor, so my only concern was if I was able to continue to do this while running my own theatre school. Once I realised how flexible Razzamataz is, then I was happy to go ahead.”
Training: “The training was a mix of online and in-person, with the hybrid model really working well for me. The first few days of online were very intense but when we met in person, everything fell into place a lot more. We are introduced and trained by a range of different specialists from IT, online marketing, solicitors and many more. It was also lovely to meet Brittany, franchisee of Razzamataz Lancaster who launched at the same time as me. We have continued to stay in touch and support each other with various aspects of the business.”
What are your business goals: “During training I said that I would love to be at 50 students by the end of the first year, but in fact I’ve achieved that halfway through the first term, which I’m delighted about. Head Office set out a very clear plan to launch and market the school, with help from all the specialist advisers such as Ian who deals with the Google Ads.
What is your mission: “To create a theatre school with highly professional training for students to learn, be challenged and continue to develop to become all-round triple threat performers.”
How is Razzamataz fitting into your lifestyle? “On the weekend I opened, I actually started rehearsals for my first one-woman show. It was quite the weekend! Although it was a crazy time, it really did prove to me that I could run a business and stay working in the industry that I’m passionate about. I love being an actor, it is a huge part of who I am, and I believe it also makes me a better theatre school Principal.”
What are you most enjoying as a Razzamataz Principal? “I know it sounds a little cliché but to see the children transform in front of your eyes is a real privilege. We had a very shy Junior student who was clinging on to her mum at the start of her Taster session but by the third class, she was at the front loving it. In fact, her mum messaged me the other day to say that she was crying because there was no Razzamataz during half term.”
Advice and top tips: “I thought about opening my own theatre school for so long, but I was very fearful about taking the plunge. In fact, I think I held myself back with fear but as soon as I started, I just felt like yes, I’m doing ok, I’m supposed to be here. Trust your instincts, trust the Head Office process and be like a sponge and absorb all the info and advice that you can.”
What are your future goals/plans for the school: “I want all children to experience the well-rounded Razzamataz training so if they want to go into the industry, they have a choice of several pathways. Giving children the chance to perform in the local community will play a big part in creating not just rounded performers, but also young people that believe in themselves. You can learn so many things by putting yourself in these situations and it will give them the confidence to follow any career path that they dream of. We have a few local performances coming up as well as our end of term presentation and then a summer masterclass. I’m so looking forward to all the different opportunities that I can bring to the children and young people of Coventry.”
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