Culture and heritage

Hustle and heart drives Signal’s young artists

13 July 2021

Follow in the footsteps of outstanding young artists at Signal, the City of Melbourne’s creative studio for people aged 14 to 25.

Whether you are a filmmaker, actor, sound artist, dancer, visual artist or anything in between, you can find the support and encouragement you need to take the next steps in your creative career at Signal.

Since creating her one-woman comedy cabaret LOTUS with Signal, Chi Nguyen has secured support to develop and premiere her show Miss Saigon-Wrong at the Bowery Theatre and acted in Netflix series The Wilds.

AP Pobjoy made a film called Why Did She Have To Tell The World?, through Signal’s Young Creatives Lab, profiling the first lesbian couple to come out on national TV 50 years ago.

AP later secured funding to extend the film for ABC TV, and an internship with Film Victoria.

Betiel Beyin received a mentorship with renowned artist Candy Bowers through the Signal program and has gone on to write, direct and act in her own web-series for Instagram TV (IGTV).

We asked Chi, AP and Betiel to share a little about their creative careers.

What has been one of your favourite creative experiences since your time at Signal?

Chi: After the creative development of my solo comedy cabaret LOTUS with Signal, I got to perform a debut season of it at Melbourne Fringe. It was such a wholesome experience, and being nominated for Best Cabaret was a dream come true.

Betiel: Having our mini-series Lil CEEBS be a part of Signal’s IGTV series was fantastic. As an emerging young artist, it isn’t easy to find organisations to instil that much trust in you and your work, so having that creative freedom was refreshing.

AP: Since completing the Young Creatives Lab, myself and co-creator Bonny Scott are developing our first feature length documentary. After our Signal project was televised nationally, it gave our team so much confidence to take the next step in our careers.

A young person and an older person deep in conversation

Phyllis Papps and AP Pobjoy working on the ‘Why Did She Have To Tell The World?’ documentary

What’s your big goal for your artistic career?

Chi: I hope to be an artist that can use my craft to make the world a better place. I hope to contribute to the visibility of Vietnamese and Asian storytelling in the future theatre and film industry.

AP: I’d love to create true and lived-in stories for the screen in both the unscripted and scripted space. I think the dream for the future would encompass making my own work but also helping other people realise their work, and that being work that genuinely changes our perception of the world.

Betiel: The ultimate dream is to have my own production company making all genres of film starring people of colour.

What would you say to a young person unsure about exploring their creativity?

Betiel: Claim your passions. Stop downplaying your ambitions and enthusiasm and just go for it. You’ll never know until you try.

AP: It’s okay to be unsure. There’s a lot of pressure for young creators to know their style and what they want to say from the get go, but the beauty in creating is also exploring how you want to tell stories and the way you can chop and change this process. Don’t sell yourself short.

Chi: Life’s too short to be stuck with something you hate doing. Ask your heart what it wants and then follow through without resistance. That takes courage, and I assure you it will be worth it.

It’s also important to note that there’s absolutely no shame in having a day job to support yourself and your dreams. It does not mean you have given up; it just means you are capable and dare to hustle.

A young person in a dimly lit space holding a small model bi-plane

Chi Nguyen in ‘Air Race’, presented by the Arena Theatre Company (Bendigo Season)
Photo by Jolyon James

What did you enjoy about working with Signal?

AP: The agency the program brings towards finishing your project. The funding and guidance of our mentors was huge, but being able to get advice and have a ‘home-base’, so to speak, really helped in the creation and, more importantly, the finishing of the documentary.

Betiel: The spaces they created for us on their online platform and the resources and tools they provided us.

Chi: Having a safe and supportive place to explore my ideas. Signal provides guidance and support across all aspects of my project in development, and graces me with invaluable knowledge that I then continuously apply in my ongoing career.

How to get involved

Would you like to develop your creative practice in collaboration with professional artists? Signal welcomes people of all backgrounds and with all levels of experience.

To explore upcoming workshops and projects, visit Signal.

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