Local Actress to Receive Honorary Doctorate from UK University

Mathurine Emmanuel
Mathurine Emmanuel

Local actress Mathurine Emmanuel will soon be recognised for her contributions to the film industry.

The award-winning actress will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts Award from the University of Greenwich (a public university located in London and Kent) this summer.

Emmanuel has produced a handful of films, amongst them ‘Ribbons of Blue’, arguably her most popular film to date (the film came out in the early 2000’s), and ‘Shantaye’s World’ which was released last year.

‘Shantaye’s World’ has received stellar reviews—both locally and overseas, and the film continues to make waves on social media.

“I (am receiving) the doctorate because of that movie—in fact they tried to find out some more about me and they realized that I’ve been there (for) 25 years trying to inspire youth and people within the region,” Emmanuel told THE VOICE in an interview on Tuesday.

Not only that, she pointed out, she is also being recognised “based on the research that I did (for) Shantaye’s World and all the other films I have produced… I also have the book (‘Shantaye’s World’).”

‘Shantaye’s World’ tells the story of Caribbean people during postcolonial times, Emmanuel explained.

“She struggles to process the loss of a mother who passed away hours after bringing her into the world. She finds consolation in her paternal grandmother,” the synopsis reads in part, but “her life changes forever” when she meets ‘Jean Claude Le Marche’.

“I have to go to the UK— I graduate on the 20th of July, and I also have to participate in the Windrush generation activities,” Emmanuel told THE VOICE.

(“People arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled (as) the Windrush generation. It refers to the ship MV Empire Windrush which docked in Tilbury on 22 June 1948, bringing workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands, to help fill post-war UK labour shortages.”—the BBC).

In ‘Shantaye’s World’, “you actually see the boat and you see people leaving the shores of the Caribbean to travel to the UK… what we did was to actually navigate that story through the lives they lived,” Emmanuel explained.

The story is told in a “magnificent” way—and Emmanuel wants everyone to see it.

In fact, when we spoke to the actress, she was actually making her way to Castries to promote the film.

“I’m making some stops at the schools because I would like teachers and students to attend our screening (at Caribbean Cinemas) on Sunday. (After that) we have one screening left. I am not too sure whether we will be able to continue to facilitate screenings because we have to work on other things as well,” Emmanuel told us.

The film’s impact (and the book’s) is undeniable.

“We represented the Caribbean in Los Angeles and they were awestruck. From there we facilitated a book launch in New York then we moved to Canada,” Emmanuel explained, noting that they too— “Caribbean folks”, were also awestruck.

“They just couldn’t understand how we were able to do that here in Saint Lucia… then we were about to move to the UK for a UK premiere but the professors (at the University of Greenwich) decided to work with us and facilitate a UK premiere with only distinguished guests,” she said.

“We were interviewed based on my work here within the region and they saw the movie… it was like ‘how did you do that?’ So, this is where the honorary award is coming from … from my persistency, hard work, and what I have done within the region to inspire our people,” Emmanuel added.

Her dedication to her craft has certainly paid off, and though she’s grateful for the accolades, it’s not her main focus, she told us.

“People ask me how I feel… it is a prestigious award, but when I set out to work it was never about that…. There were many trials that I went through but I kept moving because I knew what I wanted to do… I want to leave positive messages behind that would inspire our youth, especially black youth,” she said.

Last year, ‘Shantaye’s World’ received the “Best Feature – Micro-budget – Gold Award” at the International New York Film Festival.

It’s an incredible accomplishment for the actress, but to some, this came as no surprise.

After all, Emmanuel brought us ‘Tears in the Valley’, ‘Nana’s Paradise’, ‘Troubled Waters’ and ‘Ribbons of Blue’. And ‘Shantaye’s World’ is having quite an effect too.

Like I said, no surprise here.

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