Entertainment’s finest ladies

Posted by Dresonic on April 12, 2007

(Photos: Bryan Cummings and Lionel Rookwood.)

The scene stealer

Name: Nadia Khan
Vital stats: 34, single (“and looking for a rich man”), award-winning Trini-Jamaican actress, member of the University Players and interior decorator
Known for: Snagging the Best Supporting Actress statuette at the recent Actor Boy Awards for her role as the tormented Bertha in Polly Teale’s After Mrs Rochester. She has also wowed audiences here and overseas with her perfomances in several theatrical productions, including Patrick Brown’s Dirty Diana and Karl Williams’ The Black That I Am. She’s also appeared on the local soap Royal Palm Estate and several TV and print ads.

Why we’re feeling her: She is no amateur. After years of paying her dues, dreaming and waiting for her time in the spotlight, Khan is taking no prisoners. This adopted daughter of Jamaica is making a name for herself through her work as a much sought-after decorator and as a gifted actress in local theatre circles. “I have been performing since I was three. I’ve always had a love for the arts,” she tells all woman as she preps for her photo shoot. “It is in my blood. I can’t get it out and I don’t want to get it out.” Khan, a do-it-all woman, also worked in banking, giving up her post at Dehring, Bunting and Golding (DB&G) in 2003 to pursue her love for “a creative environment”. Besides acting on a regular basis, she earns a living by doing decor for parties and transforming homes.

“I have a wall fetish. I love painting and doing decor. It is another of my passions,” she says. But nothing beats, she says, being on stage and engaging an audience as she slips into character.

Nickeisha Barnes

What’s next: Khan admits that her “plate is full” for the coming weeks and months. She has several stage projects lined up, including her upcoming turn as Annie Palmer in Jane Crichton’s White Witch, set for the Fairfield Theatre in Montego Bay. The University Players go into rehearsals for an upcoming production in May and there are plans to take their Best Production-winning After Mrs Rochester to Barbados in June. “I’m dreaming of doing film but part of my focus, for the rest of the year, is to get a TV slot so I can host a clean, fun educational programme. The sky is the limit. There are so many possibilities to explore.”

The young diva

Name: Nickeisha Barnes
Vital stats: 25, “neither single nor married”, reggae/R&B/soul vocalist, Rising Stars alum and proud mother of one.
Known for: Giving male band One Third a run for their money last season on the hit TV talent show/ratings powerhouse Digicel Rising Stars on TV J. With her Mary J Blige-meets-Lauryn Hill vocal stylings, this young woman continues to create a frenzy at stage-shows and other events islandwide.
Why she’s making it big when others have failed: Who wasn’t rooting for this big-voiced girl on Rising Stars last year? After securing a wildcard spot to enter the final round of the competition, Barnes sank her teeth into the opportunity and nabbed the runner-up spot on the night of the grand finale. With her ‘cool chick’ persona and humble spirit, she has evolved from a round-the-way girl (born and bred in Arnett Gardens) into a young diva gearing up for the big times, attaining household-name status in the process. She has also ignored the pesky rumours about her personal life, focussing instead on launching a career that will see her competing for a spot on the charts with the likes of Tanya Stephens, Alaine and Tessanne Chin. She has not forgotten her roots either as she continues to do benefit performances in Arnett Gardens and elsewhere – most recently to raise funds for residents of the Sir John Golding Home in Mona, which was partially destroyed by fire earlier this year. And she is doing all this and balancing life in the spotlight while raising her four-year-old son Jahneil. “It’s a lot of responsibility,” she tells all woman, looking totally glam from head to toe. “It really dawned on me this year that hard work, commitment and discipline are very important on the road to success.”

What’s next: Barnes currently has a slew of radio-friendly tracks in heavy rotation, including the singles Hey Boy, So Much Pain, To Sir With Love, Perfect Stranger and Puppet. She also has a music video for her song Garrison (via Penhouse Records) in the pipeline, even as her studio recording schedule intensifies. “I’m working on a couple more singles and some other projects but nothing to confirm right now,” she says. “I don’t want to limit myself because there are many things I want to accomplish.” Barnes, who also has a 9-to-5 that helps pay the bills, has set time aside to volunteer with the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Campaign run by the Ministry of Health, which she describes as an eye-opening experience. “It is affecting everybody and we just need to take care of ourselves. It’s our life.”

Neila Ebanks

The dancing maverick

Name: Neila Ebanks
Vital stats: 30, status not confirmed, dancer, dance educator and much-sought-after choreographer
Known for: Telling it like it is in her capacity as a judge on the hit TV show MiPhone Dancin’ Dynamites on TV J. Since graduating from UWI Mona, Ebanks has choreographed engaging dance narratives and solo pieces for almost every major dance company in Jamaica, while serving as dance tutor at the School of Dance, Edna Manley College. You might also have seen some of her moves in several local music videos and theatre productions.

Why she gets major ratings: Ebanks, who has been involved in dance theatre and choreography since her days at Immaculate Conception, UWI and the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC), continues to pass on the knowledge she gained over the years in a bid to help the upcoming generation of dance performers. Her unique vision and passion for the art form manifests itself without being forced. At the same time, for many young performers, who are told continuously that there is no rewarding career or future in the field of dance, Ebanks proves otherwise. “I love performing. Through choreography, I am able to express what I want to say and I can’t think of anything that I’m more passionate about,” she says in a brief phone interview last week. Now in her second year as a judge on the TV show, she says the experience has been both encouraging and fulfilling. “People are really taking the show seriously. The participants, in particular, are very hungry to win. They are also willing to learn and they come prepared every week. I can’t say the judging process is easier this year because the calibre of performances is now much much higher,” she says, adding that television is a great medium to teach dance. The dance show I’ll Send You A Postcard, which helps to raise funds for dancers to pursue postgraduate studies in dance overseas, was also her brainchild. Ebanks has also crossed over into theatre, providing movements for productions (most recently De Moon in De Crossroads) and securing two Actor Boy nominations along the way. Her freelance choreography has also appeared in dance seasons put on by local dance bodies, most recently the University Dance Society.

What’s next: “I’m in a recovery phase right now and I’m also getting back into training to work on the performance aspect of my craft,’ she tells all woman, chuckling as she speaks. Ebanks also has projects lined up with Ashe (for their upcoming mini-season) and L’ACADCO to round off the year. “I would love to start a dance company of my own. Hopefully sometime in the future.”


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