During the pandemic, she spearheaded a series of online talks with the world’s leading lighting designers as part of her commitment to assisting young women in acquiring the skills needed to work in the creative industries.
Her efforts to keep the global lighting design community connected and engaged during the difficult pandemic period earned her recognition from lighting designers Patrick Woodroffe, Paule Constable and Hansjorg Schmidt, Programme Director of Rose Bruford College’s MA Light in Performance course.
Mildred’s initiative, enthusiasm and passion for lighting resulted in the establishment of the first ever Scholarship for Lighting Design at Rose Bruford College. The scholarship will be awarded annually to someone who would otherwise be unable to afford to come to London for a postgraduate course of study. Patrick Woodroffe says of his efforts to establish the scholarship:
“I had met Mildred very briefly when I had given a workshop in South Africa ten years ago. We had stayed in touch since then and I had always been taken with her enthusiasm, dedication, and general love for lighting.
When she announced that her dream was to come to the UK to study, I got together with fellow lighting designer Paule Constable, and we started a mini campaign to find a way to get Mildred here.
We decided to approach some of the lighting manufacturers for support and the first three we rang – Ambersphere, MA Lighting International/Lightpower Group and Ayrton– all said Yes!
Rose Bruford then agreed to waive the fees for Mildred’s one year course.”
“Rose Bruford has now set up a bursary to support students from economically challenged countries, by paying tuition fees for a student each year to come to study on their MA Light in Performance course.
This is a hugely important decision, not just for the fortunate students themselves, but also for the message it sends that we are an inclusive, open-minded, and forward-thinking industry and this gesture very much reinforces those values.”
After three years of planning by Rose Bruford and crucial support provided by industry sponsors, Mildred has undertaken the extraordinary journey to come to London to start her studies on the MA Light in Performance course this autumn.
Mildred has so far worked as Lighting Associate to Jo Town on the musical Famous Five, which premiered this October at Chichester Festival Theatre. Describing what it was like to work on the show, Mildred says:
“In the Famous Five, I was absolutely blown away by the fact that they were using video mapping in the show. In my country we use LED screens and they usually project towards the audience.
I noticed in Clwyd theatre and Chichester Theatre Festival that these guys were using video mapping to enhance the performance and it was amazing how there was a great balance between lights, video, and the set.
You literally couldn’t tell them apart. Also, unlike the LED screens, that project towards the audience, the projectors were projecting towards the stage. I found all this very fascinating.”
Over the next year, as her time in the programme progresses, Mildred will have the opportunity to work directly with Patrick Woodroffe at Dominion Theatre and Paule Constable among others.
“My experience at Rose Bruford, Lewisham college and London in general has been amazing. It has so far exceeded my expectations.
I’m learning new ways of working with light as well as collaborating with other creatives…
…I am truly grateful to the Rose Bruford College leadership for awarding me this international scholarship and allowing me to be part of their story.
Also, I am thankful to Patrick Woodroffe, Paule Constable and Hansjorg for believing in me and paving a way for me to be here. None of this would have been possible without their unwavering support.
I will forever be indebted to them for their kindness. They’re strangers who believed in my dream and took a chance on me. My heart is full.
I hope when my turn comes, I will be brave enough to show another human being such kindness and support.”
As the first black African woman to study on Rose Burford’s MA Light in Performance course, Mildred is paving the way for a Global Majority that has previously been underrepresented in the creative industries and postgraduate degree programmes.
In an inspiring message to young people who are interested in a career in design and technical arts, Mildred says:
“Dare to dream, believe, and pursue, not even the sky can limit you.”
Follow us on Instagram, and check out the MA Light in Performance YouTube channel to stay up to date on what Mildred and the MA Light in Performance cohort are up to.