Channel 4’s E4 Academy announces fresh new faces as part of digital talent search

Category: News Release

🔥 INTRODUCING: Anisa Farah, Chezablonde, Ruth Codd and Simmie Kaur! 🔥

In 2022, Channel 4 announced that it was on the hunt for fresh faces as part of its digital talent search – aimed at nurturing and developing up and coming talent as well as finding the future faces of unscripted content.  

The Academy was established to help accelerate the development of new talent, immersing them in different parts of the industry and helping them to progress and connect with the E4 audience. The programme is overseen by Director of Commissioning Operations, Emma Hardy; Head of Youth and Digital, Karl Warner; Head of Digital, Sacha Khari; Commissioning Editor, Evie Buckley and Commissioning Editor, Mel Bezalel.

Working with four independent production companies – Hoot (Part of Wise Owl Films), The Connected Set, Renaissance Studios and Rockerdale Studios – four up and coming content creators were selected for the scheme:
 

Anisa Farah (Working with Renaissance Studios)

Anisa, also known as "Badman Lisa," is a talented singer and content creator. She entered the public eye in 2018 thanks to her social commentary and comedic skits.

She entertains her audience on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok with unique content that keeps you scrolling whether she's 'going on holiday with the Kardashians,' 'out with the royals,' or in the studio. She debuted as a singer in 2020 with the release of her own song, "Yalla."

Chezablonde (Working with The Connected Set)

Rhys Thomas, best known online as ‘Chezablonde’, is a TikTok sensation utilising her platform to speak openly about her experiences as a transgender woman in a Gen-Z era.

Bringing light and laughter to her audience through her care-free and relatable persona, she shares hilarious stories, reactions and all-round entertainment through her content. Rhys has built and continues to grow a large following through her videos, with one in particular generating over 15m views.

Ruth Codd (Working with Rockerdale Studios)

Ruth Codd is an Irish actress and digital star who’s amassed a huge following for her content about her life and disability – which is how the casting directors for Netflix’s The Midnight Club discovered her.

At 15, Ruth broke her left leg – which didn’t heal – so she underwent eight operations, but due to constant pain, she made the life-altering decision to amputate her leg. It took her just two days to learn how to walk again, the pain was gone, and she quickly adjusted to her new normal. The Midnight Club was Ruth’s first professional acting job, but she was quickly cast in a second Netflix series, The Fall of the House of Usher, which debuts in late 2023.

 Since joining the Academy, Ruth has been cast in the next series of Celeb Cooking School. She was recently featured on the cover of Teen Vogue as part of their New Hollywood Class of 2023.

Simmie Kaur (Working with Hoot)

Simmie is a 24-year-old social media star, actor and polyglot – who’s fluent in Geordie as well as Punjabi and Hindi.

The Newcastle native has amassed a loyal following on TikTok, engrossed in her hyperbolic rants, story times, and satisfying beauty hacks.

From crashing VIP sections in Newcastle’s premier clubs to alternative ways to style your jumper backwards – Simmie offers a refreshing take on slapstick and self-deprecating humour.

Away from her social posts, Simmie is a trained actor who has graced the Northern Stage, Quayside Theatre IRL and appeared in BBC Three’s Mood.

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Anisa, Chezablonde, Ruth and Simmie will all work with Channel 4’s digital commissioning team to develop new unscripted formats that speak to young audiences. They will also each be given mentorship and guidance for growing their profiles and careers, and attend a bespoke E4 welcome event alongside their indies, with the channel’s senior commissioning team.

Over the coming months, these four faces will work with their respective production companies to produce non-TX pilots, aiming for a TX commission on Channel 4’s digital platforms. 

To facilitate this talent search, each indie received a bespoke brief to find people from a broad range of diverse backgrounds. The indies were selected for having a brilliant track record of working with Channel 4’s Digital Commissioning Department and all specialise in nurturing new talent from underrepresented groups.

E4 Commissioning Editor Mel Bezalel and Channel 4 Digital Commissioning Editor Evie Buckley jointly said: “We're really excited to welcome Anisa, Chezablonde, Ruth and Simmie to the E4 Academy. The production companies brought us some fantastic talent, but these four are so creative and have a unique take on the world - they immediately stood out. Channel 4 has always been known for breaking new talent and we're looking forward to supporting the next generation of E4 digital faces."

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the E4 Academy
In 2021, the E4 Academy chose four individuals from a range of backgrounds and with a variety of skills, to receive hands-on training tailored to each of them. The aim of this program is also to provide new talent with the opportunity to succeed in the media and content industries. To ensure that the chosen digital talent is supported in their development, the indie must also pitch series ideas starring the individual. Channel 4’s Digital Commissioning team have been developing a range of fresh talent including Victor Kunde, Mist, Alhan Gencay, Dreya Mac and Nella Rose.