Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
My name is Samia Djilli and I’m the co-Artistic Director of Lemon House Theatre.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
It’s a little bit of everything really – from writing to producing, it’s all things theatre related. As this is not my day-job so to speak, it involves a lot of meetings after work and writing on the weekends, but that’s what makes it so exciting.
What’s great about your job?
Mainly being able to tell the stories that I’ve wanted to see on stage for so long. Being of Algerian descent, you don’t often see yourself represented on stage, so being able to tell the story myself is extremely rewarding, which is what I’ve done with Different Sand – and I’m excited to take it as a Double Bill with Willow to The Bunker in South London on 8, 9, 15 and 16 Sep.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything that I don’t like. Every job can be a little challenging, but there’s always a solution!
What are the highlights of your career to date?
Definitely getting together the first all Algerian team to work on a theatre show in London. It’s felt like a feat to say the least.
What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?
Lemon House is something that I do alongside my main job (which also just so happens to be in theatre), but really it was through a lot of volunteering for different organisations until I had enough experience to start working for it in a paid role.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
There’s always that period where you’re unsure what your career will actually look like from one year to the next, and I think that uncertainty is the most challenging part. But, I would say I overcome it, and am still overcoming it, by working on projects that truly deserve to be shared. Coming from a working class background, there’s definitely a voice in the back of your head that is telling you that it’s all too risky and maybe you should stop. But if you find the right the community to support you, it definitely helps as well as working really hard.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
I think from the shows that I watch, you can definitely see some positive progression in terms of representation- though it’s got a long way to go, even the slight improvements that are being made need to be celebrated.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Be kinder to yourself.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?
Reach out to people in the arts. If you can’t afford to see a show, ask them if you can have a ticket and connect with them. If there’s anyone you look up to, reach out to them, it’s important to get a dialogue going with them. I wish I had known that when I was younger, I would’ve reached out to way more people. If you have access to resources at school or college, just make work. Even if it’s with your iPhone.