Sat | Mar 25, 2023

Four countries, at home

Published:Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Nadia Khan sums up the theatre as "such a beautiful place, like Maracas, the beach I went to every weekend in Trinidad." She would have heard about another beautiful place, Jamaica, while still a child in the twin-island republic.

Her father, a Trinidadian, studied medicine in Jamaica and would speak about places like Papine and Half-Way Tree. Her mother is from St Elizabeth and Khan says "she is my everything, my best friend. She is my mom. I would not want another. I am very much like her. In the family they say, 'look at young Bev!'"

Khan, who was born in England, hit the stage early, doing modern dance at three years old with Noble Douglas in Trinidad. She points out, though, that music was intrinsic to her home, both in variety and volume. Her mother loved singing and reggae, her father was into his classical music (Tchaikovsky was a favourite), her sister 'dug' Stevie Wonder, her brother rocked to Led Zeppelin and Journey, then there was the uncle who turned up African music on a Sunday morning. "I may have put the pillow over my head, but I look back and treasure it," she said.

She eventually joined the Lilliput Children's Theatre, where her lead-role performances included appearances in Ti-Jean and His Brothers, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Once Upon a Burger and The Dragon Can't Dance, among others.

"You grow up and your mommy always tell you to put on your shoes and socks. I feel I grew up performing ... I grew up with what I would say is experimental theatre, the collaboration of the drama and the music and the dance." She also got into directing, working with Sonja Moze and John Isaacs.

However, although "throughout high school I was drawn to drama" and Art was the first subject Khan put down for her CXC selections, her father nixed the notion.

The third country, Canada, came with more drama, Khan debuting in Animal Kingdom in January 1996. She worked alongside director Luther Hansraj in Naga-Mandala, appeared in the controversial docu-drama End the Silence and sang with the bands Passion and Outcast. School was not left out, as she studied gerontology and business administration.

Then came the fourth country, Jamaica, now home. In Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, Khan had worked in a bank. In Jamaica, she went to Hedonism. "I knew I wanted to act/perform from I was a child, but to do it as a profession and how to get to that point, I saw Hedonism as an opportunity. The experience only confirmed it. I gambled, made a trip to Kingston and the rest is history and still making history," she said.

Best boss

Banking was a link as well, Khan having worked at the Republic Bank in Trinidad and the Royal Bank in Canada. The Kingston move came with a job at Dehring, Bunting and Golding DB&G) and she credits Peter Bunting as being "one of the best bosses... I thank him for allowing me to live my dreams. I would have rehearsals in the day and he would allow me to go."

Among the productions that are part of the ongoing history making are Murder at the Howard Johnson, Playboy, Death Comes To Us All ... Mary Agnes and of course the Jamaican debut Dirty Diana. In 2005 Khan performed in Black That I Am directed by Brian Heap and Reality Check, directed by Maylynne Walton. After Mrs Rochester came in 2006 and since then have come Maharani's Misery, Bedroom Farce, A Tempest and No Compromise.

In one of fate's many quirks, banking led Khan back to her beloved art; she went into marketing at DB&G and loved the event-planning process. "So I took it to the next level. I started my own company," she said. That is Khan Kreate and as a decorator she works on homes and offices, including preparing booths - award-winning ones.

Looking sticky

So she has done the home decor television programme House Proud, fusing both her careers. Then there is her role as Sam on The Blackburns; on the last season she did some shooting and she laughs as she says, "I don't know what is going to happen, but things are looking sticky for Sam."

But not for her, in terms of direction. "You have to keep focused and figure what you love. What makes you tick, what is your true passion," she said. And the goal "is always to be the best you can be."

Part of her being the best she can is taking care of what is around her and Khan is a firm believer in eating what you grow (and not just since the economic crisis, she points out). And it is not only in planting to eat and for the pleasure of blooms. "We have to leave a land prepared, ready for the next generation," she says.

- Mel Cooke