Future stars get creative at Maida Vale fame academy

New talent sessions aim to build confidence and help keep children off the streets

MAIDA Vale could soon be unearthing the next Jude Law, Mary Portas or Sienna Miller after one resident set up a ‘fame academy’ for the area’s youngsters.

Fliss’s Fame Academy, which opened its doors earlier this month, aims to build the confidence of children in the community, and keep them off the streets, by getting them involved in the arts.

Taking place twice a week in the Warwick Community Centre on Harrow Road, the project costs just �5 per session with all profits going back into buying materials and renting the hall.

Jamie Coombs, known as Fliss, says she hopes the talent academy will introduce youngsters to challenging and innovative experiences.

“It has always been my dream to set up something like this since I was a little girl,” said the Amberley Road resident.

“I want the children to get to develop their self-esteem and confidence.

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“I would have loved to have this kind of support around me when I was younger.

“It also helps keep children off the streets and there are a lot of children around here who need that help.

“Our community is culturally rich and fantastically diverse and home to such an organic abundance in creativity.”

The academy, which is held every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon for children aged between five and 14, is split into three hour-long classes of general play, street dancing, drama and singing or fashion show work.

“Every single class is going to be working towards a live public show every two months for the parents to see,” said Ms Coombs, 31.

“I want to help the kids to create these talent shows.

“I am going to get professional workers to come down and help – people like a professional actor that I know who can come in to teach the children to act, and a lady who has run a fashion show in Milan coming in to help the kids with fashion.”

Other people planned to teach the kids include a professional football coach and professionally-trained dance instructors.

She says the scheme has been attracting people from a variety of different backgrounds from local council estates to million-pound houses.

Warwick Estate resident Tammy Keane, whose two children Connor, 10, and Frankie, 12, attend the club, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant because it gets the kids off the estate and mixing with other kids without any gang stuff.

“They are getting their confidence built up, relaxing with each other and at the end of it they get to take part in a show or a performance.

“There’s not really much stuff like it for kids to do around here so it allows them to do something constructive.

“The kids are really enjoying it.”