Interview with Errol Lawson @errollawson

Errol Lawson is Birmingham born prolific, motivational speaker, world leader, author, life coach, business consultant and business owner. He is currently offering a number of services to a number of organisations and various secondary schools across the West Midlands offering ‘Bespoke Leadership’ training to young people. Errol is making greater strides to promote leadership locally nationally and globally.

Errol has recently been recognised as one of the 25 Top Ten Leaders in Birmingham and fonts the Young Leaders Academy and The Transatlantic Leadership Network 2020. In addition to his resume of achievements, Errol has recently launched his new book.From the postcode to the Globe

Thank you for agreeing to do this Interview Errol. The Chanel-Lee Smile Foundation recognises the work that you currently doing in the community to promote future leaders of tomorrow. Do you consider that you own personal vision has been fulfilled?

No, I believe I am still on the way to fulfilling it. I am blessed to have been involved in some of the projects that I have done, but I still have some way to go to fulfil my dreams. I am happy with the opportunities which I have been presented with. I still have a long way to go with God’s grace.

We congratulate you on the publication of your book ‘From The Postcode To The Globe.’ Tell me how do you overcome limitations to release your potential?

The first thing is to understand what your purpose in life is, get some clarity. I appreciate this may be difficult. Sometimes, people may not understand what their purpose is and sometimes people may float as they may not understand. Pray and ask for direction, read stories of other individuals who have achieved success, go out and try different things. Overtime, we will discover that our unique purpose begins to unfold and become clearer and clearer. As we begin to prepare ourselves, we get a sense of vision. Someone may be in a situation where they are stuck in a dark place or may feel surrounded by their own limitations and obstacles. Others may lack motivation and drive and has a result find it difficult to move forward. For me, my faith and being able to steward others and help them realise their purpose is what has helped me. Others lives may be connected to my success. I have a duty to God and recognise that we have a responsibility to fulfil.

In your experience of working with young people what do you consider to the main obstacles for young people in reaching their dreams?

Young people growing up today lack confidence, self-image, self-concept, self-belief. Many may not believe they are capable of achieving. From my experiences and feedback from young people whenever parents are not involved in young person’s academic success this presents to be a hugh barrier. The children that are doing well in school usually are the ones that have parents involved in their lives

Yellow Smile Day will be held on the 22nd May 2013. We are using this day to look at the life, dreams and vision of Chanel Lee and pay attention to the arts across the West Midlands. Do you think there is a relationship between the arts and self esteem? 

Definitely, when I am delivering my workshops, I touch a lot on positive mental attitude. I often ask students about their talents and gifts and a lot of young people will raise their hands, although I have found that the older they get the less and less their hands raise.
Some of the feedback suggests that the arts allow young people to understand who they are. Being an artist is about recognizing who you are, some people sometimes struggle with stating about their personal journey. Through the arts comes self-confidence, self-belief and talent.

How important do you regard the arts and do you consider there is a need to recognise the arts nationally and as part of the education curriculum?

I think creative arts have a very important role, drama and performing arts can impact on self-confidence. Very often young people benefit in the arts as their social skills and soft skills are being developed, however there needs to be a balance between the performing arts and having an academic pathway. There is a need to have ‘Book smarts’.

What has been you greatest barrier to success and how did you overcome this?

Me. My mind-set, attitude, thinking. I overcame it by educating myself, reading, finding mentors, coaches and travelling.

You have spoken in your book about the ‘post code mentality’ and the need to develop leadership and potential. What are your three top tips for success?

  1. Develop habits, positive daily habits and routine – success is hidden in our daily routine.
  2. Surrounding one’s self with like-minded people
  3. Being committed to personal development

What would you say are the biggest barriers facing young people currently?

The lack of parental involvement can affect young people on a number of levels. Also a young person not having a stable home. I have found these to be the issues sometimes which make the most difference from speaking to young people and being around them.

What are the practical steps young people can take in order to pursue leadership?

You have previously spoken about core values being your faith, religion and personal responsibility, when did you realise the importance of having these values?

Around three years ago I began to identify them. To live from my core values is to live from a place of authencity, truth and clarity and not to compromise my values them.

How do you balance success with the need to maintain your core values?

I live from my core values. They act as a measuring stick, a thermometer. You have to take ownership of your personal core values

Have you heard of the Chanel Lee Smile Foundation? How would you encourage people in the community to support the Chanel Lee Smile foundation?

Yes, the whole ethos of the foundation is about encouraging others; we can all learn from that and inspire others. You can be an inspiration to others like Chanel Lee was by encouraging someone and lifting someone up.

What advice would you give to young people who wish to fulfil their potential?
If you want to fulfil your potential you have to get clarity, have a plan and allow yourself to get constant feedback. The road to pursuing your potential is never a straight road; you have to maintain perseverance, stay committed, write vision down and never give up. Everything is possible.

If you would like to hear more from Errol, you can purchase his book ‘From the Postcode to the globe on his website


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’.

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