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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"

UK Board of Trustees

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.

Helia Ebrahimi

Helia Ebrahimi is a business correspondent for Channel 4 News. She joined Channel 4 News from CNBC in her role as UK Business Editor covering economics, politics and corporate news for the network’s flagship show Squawk Box. Prior to joining CNBC, Helia was Senior City Correspondent at The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph for five years. She broke a number of major exclusives, including the £12.6bn attempted takeover of BSkyB by News Corp, the controversial £30m bonus pot for RBS’s top five investment bankers, and the stake building of Xstrata’s second largest shareholder Qatar for its £51bn mining mega-merger with Glencore. She started her career in journalism at the Mail on Sunday covering the leisure sector, private equity and women in business.

Amanda Lambert

Amanda Lambert is an independent art advisor and curator, working with private and corporate clients to build their collections. She lectures freelance on art and runs a contemporary collectors course taking groups to institutional and commercial exhibitions and artist studios. Amanda previously had a gallery in Chelsea where she represented emerging and mid-career artists. In tandem, she founded The Hollywood Road Arts Club, a salon-based programme for aspiring young collectors featuring guest speakers invited to educate them on the international art market. Recently, Amanda worked in development at the Royal Academy of Arts and prior to that worked in Paris at Sotheby’s and then at Hotel Drouot in the European and Russian impressionist and modern art departments. She holds an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art, an MA in French from Middlebury, and she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University.



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.


Phil Drew

Phil is a Director of leading communications consultancy, Brunswick, 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.

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.

Amber Sainsbury

Born in New Zealand, Amber founded Dramatic Need in 2007. 

She trained as theatre actor at the Webber Douglas Academy in London and has worked extensively in South Africa and Rwanda using applied drama as a tool for inter-personal conflict, self expression and confidence-building with young people. She has spoken and written on the subject for a diverse range of organisations including Creative Partnerships UK, PTA and The Commonwealth Minister’s Reference Report. In 2010 Amber created the storytelling exchange project the Children’s Monologues, producing the performances of South African Children’s stories in London (2010/2015) and New York (2017), and instigating partnerships with Carnegie Hall, The Royal Court, The Market Theatre, Johannesburg and The Old Vic, as well as township performances within South Africa. In 2013, in partnership with Victoria Miro Galleries created the Arts fundraiser ARTiculate, whereby global artists worked with South African youth to create original work as a means of connected storytelling. Amber oversees Dramatic Need’s operations and fundraising on a day-to-day basis. 




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