Lady Aria Grey Explains – A YouTube Series
Lady Aria Grey is a drag queen bent on fighting bigotry, ignorance and pretension with her hilarious and educational YouTube series, Lady Aria Grey Explains. She needs your support to help make it a reality!
Who is Lady Aria Grey?
Simply put, Lady Aria Grey is the drag persona of Callum Tilbury, a 24-year old artist from Cape Town, South Africa. After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a BA in Theatre & Performance in 2014, Callum has worked in the theatre industry as an actor, writer, voice artist, and a number of other less interesting job titles.
In his final year of university, he started watching Rupaul’s Drag Race, and has been violently in love with the art of drag ever since, due to its electric combination of wit, humour, gender theory, and fabulousness. After teaching himself how to apply drag makeup with the help of YouTube, Lady Aria Grey was born at Alexander Bar & Theatre in May 2014. She has since performed there a number of times: hosting birthdays and functions, free theatre performances, and recently in a full length play, The Pitch, which she co-wrote with Roland Perold, and which received rave reviews.
Callum himself is a naturally quiet, introverted and thoughtful individual, who enjoys worrying, wearing heels, and writing about himself in the third person like he is now.
What inspired this YouTube series?
I live in Cape Town. It is a beautiful and vibrant city, and I love it with all my heart. But it frustrates me. It is a very divided city: racially, socially, economically. And what frustrates me is that too many people are reluctant to engage in social justice conversations, simply because they don’t understand certain important concepts necessary to have these conversations in the first place.
In my opinion, the greatest thing about South Africa is its sense of humour, as it allows us to engage in serious issues with joy, and that is where Lady Aria Grey comes in. I want to help move the conversation forward, whilst at the same time keeping it funny, accessible, and fabulous. Because fabulousness is important.
What exactly will happen in this YouTube series?
Each episode will cover a different academic or social justice concept, with Lady Aria Grey using simple diagrams to explain each concept to people with little to no understanding of them. For example:
· The difference between sex and gender
· Privilege, and its different forms
· And many more…
My dream is for each episode to be educational enough to actually be useful to people who genuinely do not have a grasp of these ideas, but amusing enough to be enjoyed by people who do.
I have the first two seasons planned, but this Thundafund is just to raise enough money for the first season of twelve episodes. As I release the first season I hope to gain a number of regular patrons through Patreon, thereby making the future seasons (and any other YouTube content created with Lady Aria) self-sustaining.
How do we know it won’t be rubbish?
I mean, I can’t guarantee that, of course. But I can furnish you with a list of my writing and performance achievements, which will hopefully convince you that it won’t be:
· In my final year of university I co-created, co-wrote, and performed in Uhm… for the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, which won the Best Student Theatre Writing Award, was then invited to the Artscape Arena and the ABSA KKNK, and was subsequently published by Junkets Publisher.
· Two of my other plays, Doctor Godenstein’s Man and Fabulous Nothing were each nominated for a 2016 Muse Award by the Writers Guild of South Africa in the Best Stage Play category.
· Fabulous Nothing is currently being produced by Hungry Minds Theatre for the 2016 Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
· As an actor, I have performed in The Incredible Journey, directed by Tara Notcutt and Stefan Erasmus, as well as Uhm… and The Pitch, both of which I co-wrote. And I’m currently in Fred Abrahamse’s Hamlet, playing Queen Gertrude. Hamlet debuted at the 2015 Grahamstown National Arts Festival, subsequently travelled to Romania in April 2016 for the 10th International Shakespeare Festival in Craiova, and next year will have runs in Serbia, Germany, Macedonia, the USA, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
· You may stalk Lady Aria Grey’s Facebook and Instagram pages (@ladyariagrey) for evidence of my skill with a makeup brush and a turn of phrase.
What do you hope to achieve with this series?
First and foremost, I see this project as the best possible contribution I can make to this world from a social consciousness perspective at the moment, as it combines all of my artistic passions and talents (writing, performance and drag) into one creative focal point. And if this venture succeeds, which I am confident it will, then it may feasibly end up as a means of supporting myself with my art, which is any and every artist’s dream.
And what will my money go towards?
This Thundafund is designed to raise the funds necessary to produce the first season of the series, after which I hope to make future seasons self-sustaining through Patreon (a crowdfunding platform for artists designed for long term support). So the money I am raising here will cover:
R2400 Studio hire – I have located a studio in Strand designed specifically for independent YouTube content creators (check them out at www.tuberstudios.com). I have calculated that I can shoot my first season in 2 days at the studio, at a cost of R1200 a day.
R3600 Printing – This is for the printing and laminating of the diagrams I use during each episode. I have budgeted for R300 per episode, and there are twelve episodes in the first season.
R3600 Wardrobe – A wardrobe or wig change for each episode, to keep things fresh. As you can see from some of the pictures here, I’ve worn my black turtleneck to death.
R2000 Musician fee – I have a composer who has agreed to compose theme music for the series. I just need to be able to pay him.
R1000 Production assistant fee – I cannot shoot everything myself, and have enlisted the services of an eager assistant. But I want to pay her, because I’m a professional.
R1100 Transportation – I do not have a car, but need to transport a special table and stool to the studio, which is a 40 minute drive from where I live. This covers an Uber XL to transport my table on the first day, and the rest will cover fuel costs to my production assistant, who will be transporting everything else I need (and myself) between Cape Town and Strand for the rest of the shoot.
R8000 Writing time – I have written the first six episodes already, and have skeleton structures for the remaining six. But writing, designing diagrams, and rehearsing take time, and it is especially difficult to concentrate on writing when worrying about freelance-actor-things like paying rent. This will give me the peace of mind to buckle down and finish the scripts.
So that all covers the R22 000 tipping point. Any money I manage to raise after that will be put towards the next season, or possibly a lacefront wig.
So PLEASE support this project!
Because if there is enough money in the world for Kim Kardashian to spend $12 million on a wedding, then there is enough lying around to fund a series where a drag queen educates ignorant people about social justice.
To put it in perspective, the cost of this series with be 0.0167% of the cost of Kim Kardashian’s wedding.
But this series is at least four billion times more important.
So I have faith.
I’m Callum Tilbury, a 24-year old writer / actor / drag queen / voice artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. I graduated from UCT in 2014, and have since been freelancing in the South African theatre industry.
This is a solo project, combining all of my favourite things in this world: acting, writing, and drag.