Spotlight Prize 2018: Directors and Panellists Announced

This year's Spotlight Prize directors for stage and screen, alongside our panel of judges

The annual Spotlight Showcase judges and directors have been announced today, as follows:


Sarah Frankcom (Stage Director)

After working as a drama teacher in the East End, Sarah started working with new writers and in drama schools. She spent time at the National Theatre studio, Oval House, The Red Room, and taught at The Poor School. Originally joining the Royal Exchange as Literary Manager, she has been sole Artistic Director there since 2014. Her recent productions include: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Skriker and Hamlet (all three with Maxine Peake), Blindsided, That Day We Sang, Royal Exchange and MIF13 co-production The Masque of Anarchy (with Maxine Peake), Black Roses, Three Birds, Orpheus Descending, Miss Julie (a new version by David Eldridge), Beautiful Thing, A View From The Bridge, Winterlong (by Andrew Sheridan - Bruntwood Prize winner), Punk Rock (by Simon Stephens - MEN Award for Best Production), Blithe Spirit, Three Sisters, On The Shore of The Wide World (by Simon Stephens - Olivier Award for Best Play) and Kes. Her work has also been seen at the National Theatre, Bush Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Soho Theatre and the Crucible.

Image credit: Johan Persson

Imelda Staunton (Stage Judge)

Imelda Staunton’s diverse and dynamic career began in repertory theatre in the 1970s. She has been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and was the winner of the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Vera Drake (2004). Her film work includes Finding Your Feet, Paddington 1 and 2, Pride, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Shakespeare in Love. Her television work includes the Cranford Chronicles, My Family and Other Animals, Cambridge Spies, and The Singing Detective. Recent Theatre includes Follies, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Gypsy, Good People and Sweeney Todd. On stage Imelda has been nominated 13 times and has won four Olivier Awards.

Alex Jennings (Stage Judge)

Alex Jennings is a three-time Olivier Award winner for Too Clever By Half, Peer Gynt and My Fair Lady, and is the only performer to have won Oliviers in the drama, musical and comedy categories. His most recent appearances on stage include, as Henry Higgins in Julie Andrews’s production of My Fair Lady (Sydney Opera House), as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Drury Lane), and as Alan Bennett in Untold Stories (Duchess Theatre). Film work includes Denial, The Lady in the Van, The Queen and Babel. His television work includes Unforgotten (Series 3), A Very English Scandal, Victoria and The Crown.

Pippa Bennett-Warner (Stage Judge)

Pippa can currently be seen in the Hulu/ITV series Harlots. Last year she filmed the independent feature Wakefield alongside Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner as well as the new Jackie Chan movie The Foreigner. She will next appear in new Sky Atlantic series Sick Note alongside Rupert Grint. Other television credits include: The Smoke, The Secret, Doctor Who, The Trials of Jimmy Rose and River. An accomplished theatre actress, Pippa has played in numerous productions at the Donmar Warehouse and National Theatre, including Richard II and King Lear, where her performance as Cordelia earned her an Ian Charleson commendation.

Image credit: Paul Smith

Josette Simon (Stage Judge)

Josette Simon OBE is an award-winning actress who has worked extensively on TV - including Spooks, Law and Order, Lewis, Silent Witness and Merlin - as well as leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre, and on film. Her Best Actress awards include the Evening Standard, Laurence Olivier, Critics' Circle, Plays and Players, and Paris Film Festival. And she was nominated at the Toronto Film Festival. She was awarded an honorary MA from Leicester University, The Pioneers and Achievers Award, and the OBE for Services to Drama in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Her latest work includes Nightflyers on TV, and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra for the RSC.

Image credit: Carole Latimer

Robert Icke (Stage Judge)

Robert is a writer and theatre director. He is currently Associate Director at the Almeida, where his work includes adapting and directing Mary Stuart, Uncle Vanya, Oresteia (also West End) and 1984 (co-created with Duncan Macmillan, also Broadway, West End, National and International tours). As director, his productions include Hamlet (featuring Andrew Scott, also West End), The Fever, Mr Burns (Almeida Theatre), The Red Barn (National Theatre), Boys, Romeo and Juliet, Decade (Headlong, where he was Associate Director until 2013). For Oresteia, Robert won Best Director in the Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Theatre Awards in 2015, and the Olivier Award for Best Director in 2016.

Image credit: Manuel Harlan

Leo Davis (ICDN) (Stage Judge)

Leo Davis has worked on a wide range of British and international independent films. Her working relationship with director Stephen Frears spans over two decades and includes the films Liam, Dirty Pretty Things, The Deal, The Snapper, Mrs Henderson Presents, The Queen, Cheri, Tamara Drewe, Philomena, The Program, Florence Foster Jenkins, Victoria & Abdul and A Very English Scandal. Further credits include: Unlocked (Michael Apted), Family (Michael Winterbottom), The Ones Below (David Farr), Emperor (Lee Tamahori), Everything Will be Fine (Wim Wenders), The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes), The Physician (Philipp Stolzl), 360 (Fernando Meirelles), Anonymous (Roland Emmerich), Antichrist (Lars Von Trier), Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Bharat Nalluri), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Mark Herman), 10,000BC (Roland Emmerich), The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles), Layer Cake (Matthew Vaughn), Girl with a Pearl Earring (Peter Webber), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Mike Hodges), Felicia’s Journey (Aton Egoyan), The Last September (Deborah Warner), and Croupier (Mike Hodges).

Helena Palmer (CDG) (Stage Judge)

Helena has worked in casting for over 20 years, starting out at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. From 1999-2005 she was an Associate at Cannon Dudley and Associates, working on a variety of US and European screen projects. She has worked extensively as a freelance theatre casting director as well as casting numerous episodes of The Bill from 2001-2008. She has been Casting Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2008 and has cast many seasons in both the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres. Selected recent credits include The Duchess of Malfi, directed by Maria Aberg, Queen Anne, directed by Natalie Abrahami, King and Country directed by Gregory Doran and Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, directed by Jeremy Herrin.

Fiona Weir (CDG, CSA) (Stage Judge)

Fiona Weir worked in Film Production before moving into Casting. She trained with the renowned Casting Director Mary Selway with whom she worked for many years. Fiona has cast for some of the world’s leading Film Directors: Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar, Invictus), Roman Polanski (Ghost Writer, Carnage), Peter Weir (Master and Commander) and David Yates for whom Fiona cast five of the Harry Potter films and the two films in the new Fantastic Beasts series. Fiona has recently completed work on Judy for Rupert Goold which will be released later this year. Other recent work includes My Cousin Rachel for Roger Michell, Brooklyn for John Crowley, Room for Lenny Abrahamson, Everest for Baltasar Kormakur, Suffragette for Sarah Gavron and Pride for Matthew Warchus. Fiona is presently working on the film adaptation of the novel Beautiful Ruins for the director David Frankel and is working again with Roger Michell on his next film, Blackbird. Fiona was nominated for an Emmy for The Girl in The Café, a Bifa for Brooklyn, and won the Artios Award for Room.

Reg Poerscout-Edgerton (CSA, CDG) (Stage Judge)

Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is currently casting Come Away (Brenda Chapman), Rocket Man (Dexter Fletcher), Untitled MiB Spinoff (F. Gary Gray), and will work with Director Matthew Vaughan on an upcoming untitled Kingsman prequel. He has cast extensively outside the UK, including in France, Chile, Panama, Italy, Romania, Morocco and the Czech Republic. His other credits include Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Matthew Vaughan), Doctor Strange (UK Casting; Scott Derrickson), Maleficent (Joachim Rønning), Knights of The Round Table: King Arthur (Guy Ritchie), Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon), Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughan), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie), Guardians of The Galaxy (James Gunn), Kick-Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Guy Ritchie) and Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie).


Susan Jacobson (Screen Director)

Susan Jacobson’s feature film directorial debut, The Holding (released by Lionsgate), has garnered her two Best Director Awards, one at the acclaimed Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal. Other awards include cinematography and acting, as well as being nominated for the After Dark Competition at the Chicago Film Festival. Susan has just completed her pilot for her second feature film, Wild Geese, awarded the the Iris Prize Fund and which recently premiered at InsideOut Toronto Film Festival. Susan’s most recent short, Oh-Be-Joyful has won 20+ awards around the globe. One Hundredth of A Second (co-produced by the UK Film Council) won Best Film at the Manhattan Short Film Festival. Susan runs her production company, Pistachio Pictures, with her business partner, Alex Boden. Company credits include Netflix Original Series Sense8 from the Wachoswskis, Cloud Atlas also directed by the Wachowskis, Ed Zwick’s Defiance and Hologram for the King starring Tom Hanks and directed by Tom Tykwer.

Tusse Lande (ICDN) (Screen Judge)

Tusse Lande has over 30 years’ experience as a Casting Director in film and television. She was instrumental in the casting of Noomi Rapace in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as casting the additional films in the series - The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. She is a veteran of the European film market, bringing key knowledge and experience to projects such as Conspiracy of Silence, Skyfall, Baby-Call, Anno 1790, Maria Wern and Wallander.

Russell Boast (CSA President) (Screen Judge)

Russell’s extensive career began working with Producer Lloyd Phillips and Director Martin Campbell on Beyond Borders, starring Angelina Jolie. His credits include X-Men, Aliens, Hotel Rwanda and 24: The Series for Pagano/Manwiller Casting with Debi Manwiller. Recent television credits include The Fix, Proven Innocent, Chance, Insatiable, Wicked City, Franklin and Bash and Good Christian Bitches. Film credits include The Tribe, Paradise Club, Tortured, The Guest Room, From The Head, Home Run Showdown and White Irish Drinkers with creator of The Ghost Whisperer, John Gray which he cast and co-produced. Russell is currently the President of the Casting Society of America, heading up the organisation’s Inclusion and Diversity and Training and Education Committees. Russell’s commitment to inclusion and diversity within the industry includes spearheading the development of a number of high profile initiatives, such as a comprehensive inclusion and diversity handbook for the Casting and Entertainment Community. Nominated for two NAACP Theatre Awards, he won Best Producer at The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media Awards (London) in 2012.

Robert Sterne (CDG) (Screen Judge)

Robert Sterne  has been working at Nina Gold Casting for the past 12 years. Television casting director credits include Chernobyl, Game of Thrones (for which he has won two Primetime Emmys), The Crown, The State, The Last Post, Wolf Hall, London Spy, Our Zoo, That Day We Sang, The Devil’s Whore and Friday Night Dinner. As casting associate at Nina Gold Casting film credits include Allied, In the Heart of the Sea, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Les Miserables, The King’s Speech, Rush, Mr Turner, The World’s End, The Iron Lady, Attack the Block, Bright Star, Nowhere Boy, Happy-Go-Lucky, Eastern Promises and Hot Fuzz. Previous theatre casting includes Don Juan in Soho at Wyndham’s Theatre, The Audience for Playful Productions at The Apollo and many productions for Sheffield Crucible Theatres.

Susie Parriss (CDG) (Screen Judge)

Susie Parriss has worked in casting for 30 years. Current television projects include: Noughts and Crosses, Poldark, Endeavour, Agatha Raisin and Victoria. Previous series include: Breathless, Where The Heart Is, Love Hurts, Marple, Poirot and Lewis. Her feature work includes the UK casting of The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Martin Scorsese) and three films for Mike Leigh, namely Naked, Secrets and Lies, and Career Girls. Screenplays include Ballet Shoes, Best Possible Taste, Frankenstein’s Wedding, Christopher and His Kind, and Fonteyn. Situation comedies include: The New Statesman, Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, The Cafe, and So You Think You've Got Troubles.

Faye Styring (Screen Judge)

Faye has worked in casting for over twenty years, in particular on various dramas for ITV. She has been the Casting Director on ITV's Emmerdale for the last 15 years.

Nathalie Cheron (ICDN, CSA) (Screen Judge)

Nathalie Cheron is a Casting Director based in Paris. She has cast nearly 100 feature films, both French and European, in the last twenty five years and has worked with some of Europe’s most respected directors, including Karel Reisz. She has worked on many major international films shot in France such as The Bourne Identity with Matt Damon, The Family with Robert De Niro and has worked with US directors such as Robert Altman, Norman Jewison and Danny Huston.

Jina Jay (CDG, CSA) (Screen Judge)

Jina Jay is a Casting Director whose most recent credits include The Little Drummer Girl for Park Chan-wook, Black Mirror for Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, Radioactive for Marjane Satrapi, Farming for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Darkest Hour for Joe Wright, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for Gareth Edwards, and Bird Box and The Night Manager for Susanne Bier.

Andy Morgan (CDG) (Screen Judge)

Andy Morgan is a Casting Director who casts extensively in primetime network television. Andy originally trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He began his career in casting assisting Kate Rhodes-James (CDG) where he was privileged to work on many critically acclaimed projects. Since setting up AMC Ltd in 2005, Andy has cast a varied and diverse slate of major dramas including Dark Heart, Luther, Keeping Faith, Cilla, May Day, The ‘C’ Word, What Remains, Inside Men, The Widower, Jericho, Waking the Dead, Law & Order UK (Season 1-6), Turn of the Screw, The Musketeers (Season 3), Good Karma Hospital (Season 2 and Season 3), Frankie, Just Henry, Most Sincerely and Homefront.

Kirsty McGregor (CGA, CSA) (Screen Judge)

Kirsty McGregor worked as an actor from the age of six before discovering, 20 years later, she was better suited to being behind the camera. Since then, she has cast projects such as Lion, Top of The Lake and Animal Kingdom, and has been nominated for one Emmy Award, three Artios Awards and 11 Casting Guild of Australia Awards, having won several of these. She is a proud member of both the Casting Guild of Australia (of which she is currently serving as President) and the Casting Society of America.

Congratulations again to all the nominees for this year's showcase.