Interview with Ellison Porter @ellisonporter

As part of our Yellow Smile Day activities and going forward we are profiling some amazing young people and celebrating their achievements. So without further ado, meet Ellison Porter.


At 19-years-old Ellison Porter  is a talented music artist, the founder of EVP Talent Management and a professional model who has worked with some of the industry’s most internationally renowned brands such as Calvin Klein.


In October 2012, Ellison was awarded the ‘Chanel-Lee Smile Award’ at the 4th annual Celebrating Youth Excellence Awards . Mr Porter has shown a sense of compassion and empathy for others in in his community as well as making a positive impact and being a good influence in people’s lives. Let’s take a look at where his talents have taken him so far…

What does EVP Talent Management comprise of?

Well as of recent, I’m just in the middle of a total rebuild and looking for smaller groups of talent I can work closer with. It’s all about building a start to someone’s career and helping them progress in stages I’ve already been through to make them progress, as a friend, teacher and manager.

You record as well as produce your own music, how does it feel to be the creative director of your own work?

It’s very difficult because you’re always thinking you can do better. You spend a lot of time recording audios that you got right the first, second and even third time! It feels great when you hear your hard work in a night club though!

How did it feel to be presented with the ‘Chanel-Lee Smile Award’ and what did the overall experience mean to you?

I didn’t personally know Chanel, but I know a few close friends of hers and hearing about her characteristics and her morals – she’s an inspiration. To me an award in her legacy is the best type of award to win and I am very proud.

How important do you believe it is to show compassion for others in the community?

Your community is what defines you no matter what you think. It is what sculpts your personality and aura. So I think it’s great to give back to the community.

Do you think Birmingham is a city that caters well to the creative arts of the music scene?

Well London is massive in terms of music but Birmingham has its talents as well, to me there just as strong as each other.

What are three pieces of advice that you would offer to aspiring music artists?

Just three words – dedication, work-rate and perseverance

Yellow smile day will be held on the 22nd may 2013. The Chanel lee smile foundation will be using this day to look at the life, dreams, and vision of Chanel lee and pay attention to ‘the arts’ across the west midlands. What do you consider to be value of participation in the arts?

It’s a great to be involved in the arts and its perfect to be a part of something that you love and that you think about every day of your life.

For more information about Ellison Porter, visit

Interview with Shara Johnson

As part of our Yellow Smile Day activities and going forward we are profiling some amazing young people and celebrating their achievements, meet the second in our series of interviews – Shara Johnson.

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Birmingham fashion designer Shara Johnson, is currently studying at London College of Fashion (LCF), 

Where did you discover your passion for fashion and design?one of the leading Universities of fashion education in the world. Ms. Johnson has showcased at many popular events such as Clothes Show Live, Midlands Young Fashion Designer Awards and The Touch of London Show, which she headlined. 

Now at 22 years old, Shara has designed for celebrities such as Lady Leshurr as well as interning for the likes of Victoria Beckham and Richard Nicholl. Take a look at what she had to say about her journey so far.

I always loved drawing and making things when I was little whether it was watching Art Attack, making a mother’s day card with stickers, glue and glitter, cutting a pair of jeans into shorts or doodling – I just loved being creative. My real love for fashion kicked in when I was about ten, my Godmother made couture wedding gowns and the most beautiful dresses; I used to go to her studio space and was just in awe of her drawings and what she’d made. I knew that I wanted to do the same one day.

You currently attend London College Of Fashion (LCF), one of the leading Universities of fashion education in the world. How have you capitalised on this opportunity?

Getting into London College of Fashion is one of the greatest achievements of my life, I remember when I received the letter telling me that I had got in and I jumped up and down screaming my head off. Attending LCF was a new experience that completely took me out of my comfort zone as I moved away from home, made new friends and my perspectives on fashion and design completely opened up.

The university has given me countless opportunities such as the experience of attending talk sessions with world renowned designers such as Ozwald Boateng. Another opportunity I had was being an extra on Sky Living Fashion Reality Tv show ‘Styled to Rock’, in April 2012.

To date you have had the privilege of interning for world renowned brands including Victoria Beckham and Richard Nicoll. How have these experiences enabled you to develop your skills?

The experience of interning at both Richard Nicoll and Victoria Beckham was enjoyable, challenging, intense, a constant lesson and amazing all at the same time.  I was always asking questions and I never stopped learning. You really don’t know what you’re made of until you are actually placed in the industry and you have to prove and show your skill set in such a fast paced environment.

But I rose to the occasion with confidence!  Even at times when I got things wrong, it didn’t deter me, I just did it again until I got things right. I learned a lot about myself and how much goes into making a fashion business successful.

How would you compare the fashion scene and creativity between Birmingham and London?

I think that there is just as much creativity in Birmingham as there is in London however in London everything just seems to be more out there and put on a platform for everyone to see.However the throng of talent in Birmingham is amazing and because I’ve been proactive in looking for things and events to go to, I now don’t think it’s a matter of comparing, I think it’s a matter of knowing how to exercise whatever environment you’re in. I do however think that the fashion scene in London is broader, many people in London dress as they please and are not afraid of being expressive!

Many of your designs have a sophisticated yet classy edge. Where or who do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration for a design could come from anything but most of my inspiration for designs come from bright colours and I like my designs to celebrate a woman’s beauty from the inside out. I love looking at sunsets, tropical plants, flowers, tropical birds such as parrots, fish, pretty much anything with bright colour, I just think the world can be a very gloomy place, why not brighten up the place a bit?.

My favourite designers include Matthew Williamson, Nkensani Nkosi, Basso and Brooke and my favourite designer ever is Elie Saab, his designs are just breath taking.

You often hear the saying ‘fashion is a lifestyle’. Why do you believe it is important for people to take more consideration of how they present themselves?

First impressions are lasting; many people argue that fashion and clothes don’t define who you are, and they are right – they don’t, but what they do is they enhance a huge part and are reflective of you are and how you choose to represent yourself – you are essentially communicating to people without even having to speak.

Whether people like it or not fashion and garments and the message portrayed through them can be powerful, and society rely on certain elements of fashion to formulate an opinion of someone for example would you go to a job interview at a corporate company dressed in jeans and t –shirt? – no – you would go in smart attire to represent someone who means business.

What are your top three tips for aspiring fashion designers?

  1. Practice! I really would say practice, study and learn about your craft the more you practice the better you get. I think that a lot of people think that fashion is easy, wrong!, it can be hard work! But it won’t feel like work if you are doing what you love.
  2. Be true to who you are as a designer, but listen to constructive criticism. Not everyone will understand your vision but they don’t have to – that is why it is your vision. Although there are many designers we are all unique and that’s what makes us great – our differences.
  3. Believe in yourself and have patience, I don’t care how cliché it sounds Self-belief is paramount. Not everyone will believe in you which it’s why it is so important to believe in yourself. If you are good and you know you are when you put your mind to it you can achieve anything.

Yellow smile day will be held on the 22nd may 2013. The Chanel lee smile foundation will be using this day to look at the life, dreams, and vision of Chanel lee and pay attention to ‘the arts’ across the west midlands. What do you consider to be value of participation in the arts?

I think that the Yellow smile day is an amazing movement and the concept of encouraging young people within the arts to go after their dreams is great. Not everybody has parents or people around them who will understand, encourage and support them in what they are doing and therefore movements like this are needed for young people so that they can feel inspired towards success.

The arts in particular is important because the they are all based on creativity, passion, and most of the time people pour their feelings and who they are into it. The Chanel Lee ‘smile’ foundation reminds people that achieving your dreams are important and no matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for so we should ‘smile’.

Lions Den Competition 2013

Important Update: Lions Den Competition 2013 – Application Deadline Extended to 28th April 2013
United in Building Legacy (UBL) and LOUD, are pleased to announce that we have extended the entry deadline for the Lions Den competition to 28th April 2013.
So if you are:
  • Aged 16-30 (or know someone who is);
  • Have a great business idea or wish to develop your existing business; and
  • Fancy the chance to win £10,000 in business support (including £2,000 cash),
head over to our new blog  dedicated to the Enterprise Academy at to find out more and download an application form. At our blog site you can also learn more about our Enterprise and Employment Division and see pictures and updates from our first Enterprise Night which took place on 14th March 2013. 
To stay up to date with the latest UBL information, events and more, connect with us via our social networks details below:
We look forward to receiving your applications and seeing you at the event

Opportunity: Cannon Hill Lectures


Are you 16-24 years old, looking to develop your creative career?

The Cannon Hill Lecture series is coming up at Mac Birmingham, starting next week Tuesday 30th April. The sessions will de-mystify the creative and cultural sector to help you find your career path within it whether as an employee, freelancer or as an entrepreneur.

Topics include an overview of the Creative & Cultural Sector, Portrait Photography, Tips for a Creative Career, Think Like an Artist, Act like a boss, Collaborating, Networking, Funding, Social Media, personal branding and much more.

The Lectures are completely free but limited to reserve your place, visit Sales and Information at MacBirmingham or call Sales & Information on 0121 446 3232

Visit for further details of the lectures.

Yellow Smile Day 2013 | Get Involved

Yellow Smile Day 2012 Report-1Last year the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation launched Yellow Smile Day to commemorate the birthday of Chanel Lee Easy who passed away on the 2nd October 2011.
Yellow Smile Day took place on the 22nd May 2012, the date of Chanel’s birth. The day was used to draw reference to the beauty, creativity and life of Chanel Lee Easy.
This year, The Chanel Lee Smile Foundation is taking further steps towards having Yellow Smile Day recognised as a national day for recognising the arts of any expression and to promote happiness and contentment. To help us reach this goal., we would like to encourage and empower any supporters of the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation to recognise Yellow Smile Day by hosting your own activities or events especially local artists and creatives.
The CLSF would also like to offer all schools, colleges, an opportunity to be involved with Yellow Smile Day and offer any creative ideas.
Example of activities you could do for Yellow Smile Day.
  • Wear an item of yellow for the day
  • Arrange a non school uniform wear yellow day at your school.
  • Organise a Yellow Balloon release with a group of friends/family
  • Display the official Yellow Smile Day graphic on your Facebook page/Twitter account and encourage your friends to do so.
  • Plan to attend a local arts event your friends/family
  • Prepare a video of you performing and sharing your musical or creative talent and upload it to YouTube.
  • Organise an event or concert with your school or college to commemorate Yellow Smile day.
  • Make someone smile
  • Fund raise for the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation.
The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation would like to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in Yellow Smile Day activities. The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation will publicise your efforts through our website and social media as well as local press.
All activities must take place on Wednesday 22nd May 2013.
So if you would like to get involved or please email us at along with a paragraph about what you would like to do and we will provide you with further guidelines and information..
If you would like to organise an event or concert at your school or college, the deadlines for proposals is Thursday 25th April 2013.
Do you have any pictures taken last year on Yellow Smile Day 2012; we would love to hear from you.  Post them on our site or contact

Announcement: Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation Official Launch REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

Eight and a half difficult months since the passing of Chanel-Lee, The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation is making preparations for the official launch of the charity established to pursue her honourable dreams and ambitions.

The foundation was officially registered as a company days before Yellow Smile day and Saturday 28th July 2012 will see the official launch of the foundation at the mac arts centre in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham.

The event aims provide a clearer picture of the projects and initiatives that the Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation has in the pipeline and how they will benefit the local community.

This will be your opportunity to officially support the Foundation as well as be entertained and network within a creative community. So come along in your numbers.

Our registration page is now open and there are a limited number of spaces available so follow the link below to reserve your place.

Yellow Smile Day Special: Interview with Felix Dexter

Felix Dexter is known as a dynamic, entertaining and credible Stand-up comedian, Award winning Screen Play Writer and Actor who has a long résumé of credits under his belt. To date he has featured in Highly acclaimed TV productions such as Bellamy’s People,  Casualty, The Bill and the undisputed comedy series -The Real McCoy.  Felix is re-nowned for his quick witted style of a humour, combined his professional ambience on screen.

CREDITS – Bellamy’s People, Down The Line Radio 4, Casualty, and The Bill


In terms of my own involvement  ‘The Arts’  provides an excellent opportunity to be creative and bring stimulating productions to the community which can make people think. I see my involvement in ‘The Arts’ as a great privilege.


I did not start out doing comedy. I did a degree in Law at the University College in London I was on a route for a legal career was doing my bar finals during this time I was side tracked by  romance and ended up spending much of my Bar finals year in the US.  I started doing Stand-up and fairly quickly to my surprise started earning a living at it. Definitely I was inspired and developed a desire to do comedy from watching or listening to greats like , Richard Prior, Bill Cosby, Sam Kinnison, Billy Connolly etc. Right from the early days around 1989 I was lucky to to get many gigs and later acting work which seemed like an avalanche at the time relative to what I was expecting. Not long after that came my involvement with the Real Mc Coy around 1994 and then subsequently other shows like AB FAB, The Bill, Casualty, The Fast Show. In terms of live work I had a spell with the RSC, but throughout have always continued doing live stand-up.


Everyone has doubts the thing is to have a passion for what you do which can help overcome those self doubts. Doing Performing Arts has many risks yes, there are times without financial stability, but if you are driven and have self belief, everyone has the potential to succeed.  A number of great achievers tell stories of barriers faced before their achievements. Steve Martin spent many years doing shows in a car park in LA because he could not get a booking. Due to his commitment and determination to succeed he was able to eventually become a famous actor and comedian. Love for what you doing, is what is critical.


Yes, support and mentoring is a vital tool that our community should use to assist young people and show them the possibilities in terms of what they can achieve. Many times in our history individuals have achieved, and then not looked back to assist other people coming up. It is only if this changes via mentoring for example that our young people will fulfil their potential. One of the biggest problems in the community is youth crime, an area where clearly mentoring can be a positive by providing help and support to young people. I am very much in favour and positive about those kind of initiatives in our community.


The First step is self-belief. You cannot hope to succeed unless you can have that vision of yourself as successful. It is said that 99% of any achievement in life is to be able to have the vision of yourself achieving. If there is someone that you admire, read their biography, you will see that no one has succeeded without having to strive and overcome some kind of adversity. If you have self-belief and desire, success is possible. I remember having a conversation with Idris Elba some ten years ago when he expressed dissatisfaction with his career path. His story and his decision to be proactive and take control of his fortunes is a great and inspirational one. Through his own efforts he turned things around to now be an internationally renowned actor known for The Wire, Luther, and Prometheus this summer to name but a few.


In terms of my comedy and the characters that I have played, the one that I have enjoyed the most and the role that people have responded most to is the Nigerian character, Nathaniel, who is an Accountancy student and Mini Cab Driver. Douglas, a character I first played on The Real McCoy is another favourite. A lot of that character is based on my own experiences and it’s a character that crosses over well to different communities. I enjoyed playing Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale for the RSC. Maximus “ Leader of The Lost Legion was fun for ABC television. I actually got paid to go to Italy back in 2003 and play warrior in a field outside Rome, then go and sit in a trailer with “Maximus Leader of The Lost Legion” written on it.


Well, I think I would encourage them to find out about the story of how the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation came about and the initiative behind it. Something very positive can come out of something very sad. Deborah has allowed positivity to flourish in her life. This is a very moving story. A  great example of how to maintain that positive energy and to move forward.


In June I am at Lewisham Theatre 10th June People can get an update of my diary by following me Twitter @Felix_Dexter or Facebook Felix Dexter