Meet The Artist: Lata Sharma

Lata Sharma is a TV and Radio Broadcaster from Bangor. Lata’s talent doesn’t stop there, she is also an actress, singer and has most recently turned her hand to writing a play and a televised short story. Lata began singing from an early age with the support of her father, she performed at local classical and folk music festivals all around the province.

In 1983 Lata received a scholarship from the National Youth Theatre of GB, which offers young people the chance to develop their creative skills through the medium of theatrical arts. After making up a show reel of her work and posting numerous “VHS cassettes” to companies and producers all over the UK, Lata finally got to work nationally for the BBC on the Holiday programme and Country File. Radio 2 came along after that, another new and exciting medium and Lata has never stopped since.

What genre / style do you create in?

I love to be creative for all genres of art that I’ve been lucky enough to have participated in, be it for music, theatre, TV or radio.

What would you be best known for?

I haven’t a clue to be honest! Now, I do love having a good old “debate” on loads of different social issues affecting all of our lives, and so during my time when I chose to be a stay at home mum to raise my 3 children, I was thrilled when the opportunity to be a commentator on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show came along. Maybe that’s it? More recently I got the chance to be in the 2019 Christmas series of Give My Head Peace, where I got to do a scene with Da, Cal, Uncle Andy, Dympna and Pastor Begby which was terrifying but so much fun! Honestly though, not a clue!

What would you consider your biggest achievement?

I know this sounds corny but as much as I loved all that I did professionally, my biggest achievement is my 3 wee uns…who are not so wee now!

What would you consider to be the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your industry?

What I’ve learned is, that whether it’s as an actor, singer or broadcaster, it’s about being interested in and loving people and performance!

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Recently my biggest challenge to date was to write my first ever one woman show called “Sausage Sodas and Onion Bhajees”, based on my life as a Northern Irish, Belfast born and reared Indian teenage girl, having to duck and dive her way around during the Troubles, in order to try and fit in and deal with the sectarianism, the varying degrees of racism, and desperately having to shuffle between my eastern roots, as well as my love and affection for my local and western culture!

Tell us a little about your personal life, are you married, kids, hobbies etc?

I am married and have been for 28 years. We met in a cover band that I was singing in and he joined as the guitarist. We continued to gig right up until lockdown with my 4-piece band, covering some of the best rock and disco anthems from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s! Paul and I have 3 children, 2 girls and a boy, who thankfully are all almost at an age when they’ll be moving out…so exciting…for me!

Tell us about your most recent work?

 The Lyric and BBC Arts collaborated on commissioning a brilliant short story series about local people in lockdown entitled, “Splendid Isolation,” and I was given the opportunity to write and perform in one by Executive Producer of the Lyric, Jimmy Fay. “Anniversary Lockdown”, is a celebration of 28years of a “proper” mixed marriage, and on that special day I still end up doing all the bloody work! Great craic to write and perform, and although challenging to film under the strict socially distanced rules, it was reassuring to have a superb Lyric and BBC N.I. crew to keep me right!


The series is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer…it’s a gegg!

Watch here >> https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08jmq29/bbc-arts-ni-presents-splendid-isolation-8-anniversary-lockdown

What would you like us to tell people about?

Hmmm! That my one woman show, “Sausage Sodas and Onion Bhajees”, will be on stage in the not too distant future!

If you had to describe your work to someone who has never heard of you what would you say?

I’m an eejit who loves talking and I get to do it as a job, when the opportunity arises!

What’s the funniest experience you’ve had in your business?

Way too many to think of one, and the ones that really cracked me up are not suitable for children!

What would your advice be to young people hoping to pursue the same industry?

Be versatile by getting as many skills under your belt as you can!

Who do you look up to and why?

My husband because he’s multi talented. My 3 kids because each of them have qualities that I want when I grow up! My parents, who are no longer here because they always held my feet to the fire and kept me grounded. My siblings here for being really annoying but are always my best friends! There are many others who I look up to because they have been there for me in good and not so good times but I’d be here all blooming day!

Lata’s next production is the new Cahoots NI show the University of Wonder & Imagination. The show is an hour-long interactive digital theatre production that allows audiences to effectively direct the performance, based on their interaction with the performers. The University of Wonder & Imagination will be making it’s Northern Ireland premiere at the Belfast International Arts Festival from October 22nd – 25th and 29th – November 1. For more information or to book go to http://www.cahootsni.com/ or https://belfastinternationalartsfestival.com/  

 

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