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steering group

the founding group summer 2021

left to right

Laura Hanna

Ramzi DeHani

Nadia Emam

Laila Alj

Jessie Bedrossian

Kerry Kyriacos Michael

Sepy Baghaei

Arian Nik

Lara Sawalha

Lanna Joffrey

Shireen Farkhoy

Philip Arditti

Penny Babakhani


in alphabetical order

Laila Alj (founding member)

Laïla is an actor from Casablanca, Morocco.  She moved to London 10 years ago to pursue an MA at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  Prior to that, she lived in the States where she studied theatre at Northwestern University.


Philip Arditti (founding member)

Philip grew up in the Jewish community of Istanbul and moved to London in ‘99.  He trained at RADA as an actor and was part of the team that set up the Arcola Theatre where he was an Associate Producer.  Philip is also a writer and theatre-maker.​​

Penny Babakhani (joined january 2021)

Penny Penny is an Iranian-German producer whose independent practice centres migrant and multicultural artists. She is also currently producing for Company Three and the Old Vic 12, having previously worked across production, programming and administration in the commercial touring sector.

Lanna Joffrey (joined january 2021)

Lanna is an Iranian performer/writer working in the UK and US. She has enjoyed performing extensively in theatre, film, audio projects and her spoken word, which has been published in print and online.

Kerry Kyriacos Michael MBE - (founder) 

Kerry is a British Cypriot who was the Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East for 13 years.  He now freelances and develops work through his production company: Kyriacos and Company.  

hall of friends

Previous steering group

Ahmet Ahmet (founding member - dec 2020)

Ahmet is a Turkish Londoner.  He is the Outreach Director for ‘The Stage’ Newspaper where he leads the ‘Get Into Theatre’ initiative.  Ahmet is also a theatre lecturer and research module leader at Trinity Laban.  He is currently a PhD research student at Central School of Speech and Drama. 

Sepy Baghaei - co vice-chair (founding member - nov 2023)

Sepy is a theatre director of Iranian origin.  She grew up in Australia and moved to the UK in 2013.  Since then, she has worked with a range of British theatre companies including English Touring Theatre, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford  East, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  She is currently Associate Director at The Space Theatre.

Jessie Bedrossian (founding member - aug 2022)

Jessie is an Armenian actress and recent graduate from Mountview on the BA  Acting course.  Being relatively new to the industry, Jess is really excited to be taking on the role of Membership Liaison. Jess aims to bridge the gap between the members and the steering group, encourage a safe space for open dialogue, and to continue to champion the wonderful voices within our community.


Ramzi DeHani - company secretary (founder - june 2022)

Ramzi is a Palestinian / Libyan actor born & raised in London. He trained at the Oxford School of Drama and has worked internationally in Film, Theatre, TV and Radio with arts organisations including the BBC, The National Theatre & Creative Europe. He will be supported by Shireen Farkhoy, who has offered to take minutes of any meetings we have. 

Nadia Emam (january 2021 - june 2022 )

Nadia is a director, poet and facilitator based in Sheffield, where she is a supported artist of Sheffield Theatres. In 2019 she was awarded a placement with Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme at Stephen Joseph Theatre. Her first poetry film won the WEX Short Film Competition and was part of the BFI’s Northern Exposure Short Film Programme. She is currently developing her debut short film with Candle & Bell, funded by BFI NETWORK.

Shireen Farkhoy (founding member - aug 2022)

Shireen is a British-Iranian Actress / Screenwriter, born & raised in Leeds.  She trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and continues to work extensively in Theatre, TV and Radio.  Shireen is currently writing her debut 6 x 30’ TV dramedy series.

Laura Hanna (founding member - april 2024)

Laura is an Egyptian-English actress, singer, theatre-maker and writer, born and bred in  London.  She also works as a coach in communication and presentation skills, co-founding her company The Pitch Process in 2018 and running workshops for organisations and charities, in schools and prisons. 

Arian Nik (original member - aug 2022)

Arian is a British-Iranian actor born & raised in Leeds.  He studied BA Acting at Mountview Academy where he also served as Board Member from 2016-2019. 

Lara Sawalha (founding member - aug 2022)

Lara is a Jordanian-British actor based in London.  She graduated from Italia Conti Performing Arts Theatre School and has since been working regularly in Theatre/TV and Voice.

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