And the winner is: We Rise Announces The Ingaural Winner of the Reece Simwogerere Alumni Award

We had a very busy January launching our We Rise Alumni programme and excitedly presenting our first ever Reece Simwogerere We Rise Alumni award to Sam Dusucces!

We are incredibly proud and grateful to have been able to create our Alumni Award in memory of Reece Simwogerere with the blessing of his wonderful family.  Reece was one of the original directors at We Rise and he was an absolute pleasure to have around the board table. Not only because of his focus and perspective, but because he was such a lovely person to be around.  Reece sadly passed away last year and it is no understatement to say that everyone who knew him was devastated.  That said we were honoured when Reece’s mum, Melrose along with the rest of his family chose to support us by directing the donations people made at the time towards the work that we do.  Those generous donations are being used to create our alumni programme and the annual Reece Simwogerere Alumni award.  

Sam Dusucces with Reece Simwogerere’s family and Brixton Bid’s Michael Smith

The winner is……Sam Dusucces

When we first met Sam he didn’t smile much or make much eye contact and confidence wouldn’t be one of the first things you would use to describe him.  He was fresh out of school and maybe had an idea about what he wanted to do but had no real plans for how to do it. 

In fact we only met him because someone dropped out of our second ITV Win advert project and he was top of the waiting list, he was ready, waiting and willing.  It was then that it became apparent that his lack of confidence was not matched by any lack of ambition when he stepped out of his comfort zone and took the presenter for the advert, TV legend Andi Peters aside to ask him for his personal career advice.  Wow – that must have taken a lot of courage – not because Andi wasn’t nice – he is lovely!

Then our next encounter with Sam was on our 81 Acts of Exuberant defiance film project where he brought such insight and consideration to everything he raised during the round table discussions. It wasn’t long after that that the best thing that could have ever happened to him happened – in our opinion anyway – he joined our mentoring programme and was matched perfectly with one of our brilliant and committed Mentors – Andrea Speziale-Bagliacca.

Sam and Andrea talking to year 10 students about their mentoring journey.

Here’s Sam’s journey from Andrea’s lens:

‘I was very lucky to be matched for my first ever mentoring experience with this lovely young person. We met on Zoom and I could quickly see behind the introverted young person lay a true passion for storytelling and writing.  Soon we started working on his CV and applying for apprenticeships.

His very first application form was so strong and with imaginative original Ideas that he got offered a year’s paid internship weeks after leaving college at which point he immediately panicked and it took a week of pondering to make the brave decision to say NO. it was too soon he needed to feel that it was the right thing ! 

This was a bold move for an 18 year old to say no to a year salary with a prestigious company, but it turned out to be the perfect decision as soon later he landed a 3 months experience with the BFI film Academy where he ended up writing and co-directing a short film.

He also got the chance to interview one of Britain’s hottest tv and film writers: the BAFTA, GOLDEN GLOBE, EMMY Winner and Oscar nominated creator of HBO’s TV show Succession, Jesse Armstrong!

Sam interviewing Jesse Armstrong at his writing studio in Brixton.

He got to work with one of his top 5 favourite production companies: Fully Focused Productions,before landing a full time internship as a writer at Moonbug Entertainment, a leading Global Animation company.

Now after working there for more than a year and a half he is a full time employee and a junior writer and this is what Moonbug have to say about him:

‘It has been an absolute privilege to witness Sam find his voice and to be a small part of his journey.  He is a captivating, deep thinking, eloquent storyteller that goes from strength to strength.  He draws you into every sentence and leaves you wanting to hear the next line.

I’m genuinely excited about his talent; his growth is precisely why I come to work.

What’s more, his openness, honesty and willingness to share has been really key to helping others to feel comfortable to be themselves.’ – Rosa 

“It has been incredible to witness Sam’s growth in the last year and a half. He’s gone from a young man seeking his first experiences in professional writing to an essential and irreplaceable member of our writing team. He’s written across several brands, each very different, mastered each one, and lent each his own touch (and his particular flair for character-led comedy). I work alongside Sam every day – he’s no longer my trainee, he’s my right-hand man and I’d be lost without him. It’s a privilege to have his help and insight on all the scripts we work on.” – Matt, Senior Writer

‘His growth has been magical to witness and humbling to be a part of his journey from the start of his time at FF. 

I have seen a shy, uncomfortable, boy of no words transform into an articulate, brave, inspiring wordsmith who no longer allows his fear of the unknown to stop him. 

He has managed to do all this and hold onto his truth and maintain his quirky, unique way owning who and what he stands for which paves the way for others to do the same. 

He has learnt to MoVe with LoVe for himself and this warms my heart and brings me so much joy as he deserves to shine and share his beautiful light with others’ – Jade, Fully Focused

Fully Focused Productions kept in touch and encouraged him to explore his talent for the art of spoken words ! 

Since then he has performed his own words in front of a life audience at London Stages, Art Galleries, Cinemas !

It’s with enormous pleasure to honour Sam Dusucces with the inaugural We Rise Reece Simwogerere Alumni Award. We know he will end up writing plays, books, tv shows, films or whatever he decides to do !

For us his greatest achievement is that he has learned he has a great smile and now uses it ! He is a passionate young man that loves every minute of his creative life and excitingly approaches every new adventure ! 

Sam, the Simwogerere Family, Michael Smith and the We Rise team.

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