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Friends and Trustees

It takes the support of many people to make Dramatic Need a success, and we are very lucky to have some very committed and passionate friends behind us.

Dr. Lindiwe Mabuza

Dramatic Need Patron & Former South African High Commissioner to the UK

"It is through Dramatic Need volunteers that these children, who endure hardship, may learn creative skills that allow them to express the challenges they face on a daily basis"

Helena Christensen

Model & photographer "I think it's a very worthy cause. I followed it from the beginning. I think it's a beautiful thought and a beautiful thing to do for children in Africa."

Josh Hartnett

Actor "I want to go down there and actually help out. It's fun for an actor to be able to do something that's not for publicity, but actually go down and do something hands-on." Hear Joshtalking about Dramatic Need.

Board of Trustees

Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle was born Manchester in 1956 and is one of the United Kingdom's foremost theatre and film directors. He made his feature directorial debut with the film Shallow Grave. It was an instant success and was widely praised by film critics. Next came the film Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. Critically and financially successful, it is considered among the most influential and iconic British films of the 1990s. Boyle has since gone on to direct many successful films including  28 Days Later, Sunshine, The Beach, 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire, which has won over 60 international film festival prizes including 8 Oscars and 7 BAFTAs, taking home best picture and best director at both awards. In 2012 Boyle directed the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, titled Isles of Wonder.

Click here to read about Danny's involvement with Dramatic Need, and why he believes art matters.


Clemency Burton-Hill

is a journalist, novelist, musician and presenter. Clemency currently presents the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 3, the BBC Culture Show and the Proms. A reporter on Channel 4’s award-winning series Unreported World, she is also regular commentator on current affairs programmes on Sky News and Radio 4.Clemency is the author of two novels and has written for all the major UK broadsheets. Currently a freelance contributor to the FT Weekend Magazine, the Economist’s Intelligent Life, the Independent and the Guardian, she is the music columnist for BBC Culture Worldwide and has elsewhere contributed to WSJ, Departures, Opera News, the Spectator, New Statesman, TLS and Vogue. A voting member of BAFTA, Clemency has also judged the Costa Books Prize and Amnesty Media Awards.She graduated from Cambridge University with a Double First in English Literature.


Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Kobna was born in Accra raised in Surrey and is now a Film, Theatre,  TV and Voice actor working between London, L.A. and New York. He has played leads in programmes on the BBC, Sky TV, Channel 4 and ITV and has also received extensive critical acclaim for his stage work in London, leading casts at the National, Royal Court, Young Vic, Globe and Manchester Royal Exchange theatres, among many others. He produces and directs and (also writes for Theatre under pseudonyms.) Kobna voices Peter Grant, Nightingale (and everybody else) in the #1 bestselling book series Rivers of London series. In 2010 Kobna was the co-producer of the Dramatic Need Childrens' Monologues at the Old Vic Theatre in London and then in 2013 he was the creative associate on Dramatic Need's ARTiculate project.


James Mullighan

Born in Australia and resident in London since 1998, James Mullighan has since 2007 been Creative Director of Shooting People, the global networking community for independent filmmakers. James has Bachelor degrees in Law and Arts from the University of Adelaide. For over two decades, he has been an arts journalist, specialising in theatre and classical music; his work has been published in the Times, GQ, the Scotsman, Vogue, Rolling Stone and The Age. For four years he worked at Sony Music (Entertainment) Australia, running first the Sony Classical then the Columbia labels. Prior to working at Shooting People, he was associate producer RESFEST UK & Ireland, four times producing the annual UK tour of the Festival which comprised of short film, music, art and design. He sits on the Advisory Boards of the Sheffield Doc Fest, Bristol Encounters, London Short Film, Abandon Normal Devices and Branchage Jersey International Film Festivals. In 2011 James acted as Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Since 2013, he has been Creative Director of the Cork Film Festival.



Vanessa Garwood

Vanessa Garwood is a British artist, born in Israel 1982, who studied in Florence for three years at the Charles Cecil Studios. Her work has been exhibited in the National Portrait Galleries BP Award where her painting won the Visitors Choice. She also exhibited at the London Costa Gallery, the London Art Fair and has featured in private collections. In the past few years her work has focused on travelling and landscape painting and this change resulted in an three month apprenticeship with the South African sculptor Dylan Lewis, in Cape Town. Since her return she has focused on sculpture in bronze in partnership with the Talisman Gallery in London. Whilst sculpting in South Africa’s Western Cape in 2009, Vanessa worked with a charitable organisation called Imibala, and taught art lessons to children from local schools. Vanessa has family in Kenya and South Africa, and travelled extensively in Africa throughout her life.

Simon Oakes

Simon Oakes is Vice-Chairman of Exclusive Media and President & CEO of Hammer Films. Prior to his role at Hammer, Simon Oakes held the posts of Managing Director UPCTV and latterly Head of Content Chellomedia, Europe’s largest cable company. Simon Oakes’ early career highlights were founding producer of “The Comic Strip”, Managing Director of Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel’s production company Cucumber Productions (producers of “Max Headroom”) and founder of Crossbow Films. He is also the Chairman of The Big Sleep Hotel Group and Chairman of B@TV.


Virginia Eastman

Virginia Eastman runs the media practice for Saxton Bampfylde the executive search firm covering a wide range of media roles at c-level. Prior to that she spent five years at Heidrick and Struggles. She served fifteen years at the BBC as a Business News Correspondent/Presenter covering daily business and economics news and presenting such programmes as The Money Programme, Trouble at the Top and Working Lunch.. In 2003 she won the Workplace Media Award for “Programme of the Year” for her Money Programme, “Sexism in the City”. Before joining the BBC in 1991, Virginia worked at Bain and Company. She is originally from Tasmania, Australia.


Phil Drew

Phil is a Director of leading communications consultancy, Fishburn, where he advises a range of global businesses, such as Shell, Nestle, and SABMiller, on communications strategy, sustainability and responsible business, media relations and social media. He was previously Director of Communications for Climate Week, a campaign backed by Al Gore, Kofi Annan, Paul McCartney and a coalition of businesses, NGOs, and government to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, low carbon society. Before this, for a number of years he was with Unity, a communications agency where he worked on and led award-winning behaviour change campaigns for brands such as Orange, and NGOs such as WWF and Friends of the Earth. Career highlights included staging the UK’s first Johnny Cash-style prison gig at HM Pentonville with chart-topping rockbands to raise awareness of male suicide; getting Paul Weller, Beth Ditto, and a host of superstars to create a record for homelessness charity Crisis, inspired by the kids game consequences and produced by Academy award winning superproducer Paul Epworth; and working with stars such as Lady Gaga and Akon to connect young people to their communities through music for Orange RockCorps. Phil writes regularly for the Guardian and Huffington Post on the power of business to shape society for the better. He read English at Cambridge University, where he also won the British University Boxing Championships.


Michael Sackler

Michael set up film production company Rooks Nest Entertainment in 2010. Rooks Nest has produced 9 films as of early 2014, including My Brother The Devil, The Truth About Emanuel, Exhibition and Obvious Child. Prior to founding his own business, Michael worked in the charitable sector at Charity:Water and FilmAid where he filmed a number of expeditions, worked on financial schemes and fundraisers while teaching filmmaking in underprivileged communities. Michael currently sits on the board of FilmAid and children's TV production company, Doodle Productions.


Amber Sainsbury

Amber Sainsbury trained as an actress at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She has taught drama extensively across Africa, particularly in South Africa and Rwanda. She was a Keynote Speaker at the British Arts Council’s Creative Partnerships Conference 2009 on the role of the arts in Development and was a contributing author on the 2009 Commonwealth Minister’s Reference Book on the subject. She founded Dramatic Need in 2007, producing all of the charity’s major events to date, including The Children's Monologues at the Old Vic in 2010 and ARTiculate at Victoria Miro Gallery in 2013. Amber continues to run the charity on a day to day basis.




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