Sunday, 30 October 2011

BARBARA TAKES LONDON: Jamaica’s Blake-Hannah celebrated at Britain’s BEFFTA Awards

A MOMENT LIKE THIS: Accepting her prestigious new honour, Blake-Hannah addresses the BEFFTA Awards.

Long before the 2008 advent of the groundbreaking Reggae Film Festival here in Kingston, Barbara Blake-Hannah was a pioneer on another front, making waves back in the late sixties as the first Black news anchor on British television.

It’s a hugely noteworthy achievement that has no longer gone unsung. Two Saturdays ago, at the Light House in London, Blake-Hannah was among a very distinguished batch of luminaries who were joyously celebrated at the 2011 BEFFTA Awards for their accomplishments as Black/ethnic personalities in British entertainment, film, fashion, television and arts.

Blake-Hannah, the recipient of the female Lifetime Achievement Award, finds it delightful that the importance of what she achieved decades ago still resonates with people. “I am feeling very pleased and so very glad to see that my work has been rewarded so publicly,” she exclusively tells TALLAWAH. “I was overwhelmed by the number of FB messages of congratulations I have received, and it overcomes a lot of the pain and suffering I have endured for many years while I did the works Jah has inspired me to perform.”

This recent triumph by Mrs. Blake-Hannah, who has quietly made substantive choices of projects to introduce to Jamaica’s cultural landscape, only serves to amplify the timeless message that recognition adds to the endless value of selfless work. “I have to give special thanks to Pauline Granston of the British Communications Media Union and Peter Gittins, my Reggae Film Festival partner, both of whom engineered my selection as [a] Lifetime Achievement Award winner. I’m humbly grateful to Jah for such a special blessing.”

Modesty aside, Blake-Hannah also found time to bask in the splendour of the glitzy occasion, which generated widespread press coverage. “The atmosphere at the awards was like the Academy Awards, lots of celebrities, gorgeous gowns, unusual people,” she explains. “A beautiful troupe of Ethiopians performed some beautiful traditional dances wearing some beautiful costumes. I was amazed at the red carpet fashions, which were quite amazing. But best of all, I was to be surrounded by so many Black achievers, making me proud to be in such stellar company.”

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