​exclusive: barbie asks grace ladoja to round up her crew

We get the brand new video from one of FKA Twigs’ and Skepta’s go-to directors.

by Stuart Brumfitt
21 July 2015, 12:55pm

She's made music videos for Skepta and FKA Twigs, but now Grace Ladoja is turning her attentions to Barbie for the launch of the diverse Fashionista range. London-based Grace was asked to round up her crew to discuss what it's like being a young woman today and what it means for female friends to support one another creatively, personally and professionally. The diverse group she's brought together for the short film includes Sharmadean Reid, Carri Munden, Harriet Verney, Naomi Shimada and Shakira Kali. Shot in a colorful tunnel in Somerset, the exclusive film shows the group sharing their thoughts on body image, confidence, friendship, careers and more. We caught up with Grace herself to find out more about the Loving The Crew project, her upcoming short film and what it's like working with two of Britain's biggest music stars of the moment.

The film is about female friendship and support - many of you and your crew have stayed really tight over years. What's the secret?
There's a great parallel with Barbie Fashionistas dolls, as they are so diverse. As soon as I showed everyone, they each leapt on the one they felt looked like them, so this film was very much a celebration of our individuality, and how being yourself makes us stronger as a group. We are very honest about our friendship, which is constantly growing, as we evolve individually, which always makes us feel incredibly in tune with one another. And keeping it real, we never talk behind each other's backs. Most importantly, enjoy your time together.

Do you support each other creatively?
We're all pretty international so we have all have a rounded understanding about most things! We always run new ideas past each other as soon as we think of them, we have a group message and we just casually give each other advice and feedback. Sometimes I'll read back on the messages and think, "Wow, the ideas in this group could change the world."

What's the atmosphere like when you all get together?
It's really fun - quite intense but pretty girly! We do a lot of talking whist getting ready to go out. Sometimes you won't get a word in, and other times you could be at a pool in Palms Springs sitting silently in each other's presence and that's enough.

Did you play with Barbie growing up?
I was a tomboy, so I never had any dolls! I definitely think the Fashionista Barbie is relevant. Every girl can find one they can relate to in a modern and real way.

Can you say a few words about each of the women involved in your film?
Sharmadean Reid… Inspirational role model
Carri Munden.. Digital genius
Harriet Verney… Calmingly complex and charming
Naomi Shimanda… She makes you smile, always
Shakira Kali… She's so funny beautiful and smart without knowing it

Tell us about this multi-colored tunnel you found in Frome in Somerset. How did you stumble upon it? Why was did you think it was right for the film?
It's called a Colorscape and was created by an artist called Peter Jones in the 70s. It's a structure of color and light! Being a filmmaker, I'm completely obsessed with ways to incorporate color into film naturally. All these women are connected through an energy they exude, plus inherent connection to color in their work.

How did you and FKA Twigs become friends and start to work with each other?
We met through Carri Munden. I was shooting a fashion film for her and Twigs was in it. We had an instant connection and I asked her to play her music on the set. We had a really fun time and became friends, so working together was a natural progression. I took her to New York for one of her first shows and directed the videos for EP1. It was such a pleasure to be part of her journey - she's probably the best artist in the world right now.

How about you and Skepta?
I work for Supreme and booked Skepta to perform at the "cherry" after-party last March. We've spoken everyday ever since! We both have a vested interest in promoting the UK to the rest of the world, so decided to work together.

Can you describe any similarities and differences of working with the two of them?
The are both explicitly clear on what they stand for as artists and do not conform to the boring music industry text book.

What do you make of the London scene right now? What music, design, style, film or anything is getting you excited? Grime is back with a vengeance, for one.
Everything excites me. London is definitely the best city in the word right now. There are too many great things to say. I think this needs to be a TBC moment.

I hear you're working on a feature length film - how's that going? Can you give us some ideas of what it's about and when it'll be out?
It's a short about London girls, I don't want to reveal too much but it's definitely a little controversial. It's currently in pre-production. I'm shooting it at the end of the year, eeek!


grace ladoja