By Lauren Russell
An Oxford university graduate from Bexley who was part of the first BAME drama society is fundraising £14,000 after being unable to receive additional student finance.
This fundraising will help 22-year-old Tumi Olufawo pay for the expenses of studying Professional Acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School where she is one of only 28 people to have been offered a place in October 2021.
She said: “I have always loved performing. I think more and more representation is improving in TV and sharing stories or perspectives that you do not often see is important.
“I think it is pretty powerful to be able to be in a position to share their stories and to be able to do it in a way that can touch other people.”
Ms Olufawo was the only person from Townley Grammar School, Bexleyheath to go to Oxford University in 2017 where she studied Politics, Economics and Philosophy.
While studying, she sat on the committee of the first ever Oxford BAME Drama Society which is dedicated to ensuring diversity and inclusion within the university.
She continued: “In my first year I had done no acting or anything creative, but there was a girl from Ghana called Francesca who was really involved in drama.
“She had noticed that there was a problem with a lack of representation and that the BAME people in the show were playing the slave or the character that had to be BAME, so she decided to put on a completely BAME cast and crew production of Ancient Greek tragedy Medea.
“I was not even going to audition for it, but I did and it was incredible.
“For a lot of people it was the first drama thing they had ever done in Oxford because they hadn’t felt comfortable being involved with projects that had not gone out of its way to say ‘this is for people like you’.
“I just felt like I was part of something really important.”
The society also puts on workshops and invites those within the industry to talk to students, encouraging those who wouldn’t typically be involved in drama to get involved.
After successfully doing four auditions and competing with 2,500 candidates Ms Olufawo is now unable to receive additional government funding to enable her to continue her acting career.
She said: “When I found out I was so stressed because I knew my parents wouldn’t be able to pay all my fees.
“Of course I think it is really privileged of me to even have one degree but there is a stigma with drama school where people tend to apply when you have got life experience or you are a bit older and in that sense it is kind of unfair.
“Overall I think there is a lack of incentive from the government when it comes to things like paying for university. I just hope I can find a way to raise the funds.”
To donate visit: https://gofund.me/7bce9049
Pictured top: Tumi Olufawo
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