Actor, comedian and writer Lubna Kerr uses humour based around her Asian heritage to attempt to both break down and play on the stereotypes attached to her background. Her 2018 solo show The Asian Ellen DeGeneres acted as a showcase for Lubna’s talent for character comedy – characters heavily-leaden with Asian stereotypes and a rich Scottish sense of humour. More recently Lubna has been filming BBC One’s successful Scottish sitcom ‘Two Doors Down‘, in which she makes a guest appearance in the fourth season. 2019 saw Lubna design her new solo show Where are You Really From? – a question she is asked by many people on a daily basis. Her reply depends on the person asking her. The show has so far been performed in Brighton, Glasgow, Newcastle, Morcambe and Crieff, all as part of comedy festivals.
Lubna was awarded funded from Creative Scotland and has just completed her first play, Tick Box. The aim of this funding was to allow her to write, produce and perform a semi-autobiographical, one-woman play about migration, relationships, theatre and arts. This project also allowed her to explore her own identity, as a Scottish, Pakistani woman, both as an actor, and within the white, male-dominated comedy circuit. In practical terms it was to write, research and develop material, and to shape it into a play for presentation as a work-in-progress. This involved conducting workshops with women from Pakistani and Asian communities, to better understand the barriers they faced in accessing the arts.
Based in: Edinburgh
Lubna Kerr on her response to lockdown…
How was 2020-2021 for artists in Scotland?
Pretty awful. No live gigs for theatre or comedy venues. TV filming did start but only for established shows and actors. Any new jobs going to established actors and performers, newer people, even with ten years plus experience not getting a look in. Zoom gigs in both comedy and filming were the way forward.
What was the specific effect on you?
Could not perform live, lost money and confidence. On the plus side less travelling. I loved the Zoom gigs because I did not have to travel hundreds of miles to do a gig. As actors we were able to do self tapes for directors which was great but lacked a getting to know you part with the director. People who didn’t have a profile were more disadvantaged. Only one brown Asian actress on the scene. Lack of diversity within the diverse actors! Also needed to be more transparency about who was doing what.
What aid was there for you?
Only after a while and but it was emotional help we needed. The money offered was never going to be enough for the creative industry.
How the pandemic stimulated creativity or dampened it?
It depends on how you react to it. My creativity thrived. I had time to research new play topics such as narcissistic behaviour and why people of colour don’t go to the theatre as much. I had more time to write as I was travelling less , so more time to reflect.
How did you resolve the problems you faced in doing work during lockdown?
By having a positive attitude and knowing that we were all in this together. By creating new work such as Tick Box.
Any general thoughts on the future?
New opportunities need to be for everyone, there needs to be more support for the creative industries. We need to continue to be creative in communicating with people and keep the live and online performances both going. Pay must reflect the work we put in.