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13 Questions: Mandy Colleran

by Ouch Team

27th November 2007

Uppermost in my mind today is ...

Receiving my Lifetime Achievement Award, because I have to give a speech. I don't know what I’ll say - I just hope not to cry like Halle Berry. I suppose I've been knocking about for a while. I've been performing for 15 years, and before that I used to run Arts Integration Merseyside, which was the predecessor of NWDAF.

People think I'm ...

Mandy Colleran
Very confident, because I'm generally quite outspoken, chatty and giggly. I'm not as confident as people think.

I want to ban ...

Parking on drop kerbs. On occasion I've left notes on peoples cars explaining how silly they have been, but probably in slightly more colourful language than that. I get a mixed reaction, some people are sheepish and some can get a bit narky. It’s a lack of consideration.

The best piece of advice I would pass on is ...

If, as a disabled person, you have decided on a career path, look around for where you can get the best support and training. Of course you need an innate ability, but if you want to get to a certain level, you always need to hone your skills. Look at classical musicians, they train for years.

I struggle with ...

Mandy Colleran
Self-promotion. As a freelancer, you have to be able to promote yourself, and I find it difficult. Because I got into disability arts, I find it much easier to talk about the politics of a situation rather than about myself. Every time a disabled person puts themselves out there in the public eye, they are making a political statement.

I excel at ...

Seeing the humorous side of things. Being a disabled person in a generally non-disabled society puts you in an interesting position, and you find yourself in humorous situations. I was in Penzance, just going along the street, and a lady thought that my clothing needed rearranging. So she came up to me and started moving my skirt around. Another time I was at Angel tube station in London waiting on a friend. It was cold, so I got a cup of coffee. A man tried to put money in the cup, and when he saw there was coffee in there, he was so embarrassed that he just mumbled something and walked away.

I couldn't live without ...

Books. I could read by the time I was three years old, and my treat of the week was a trip to the library. Dad was a reader as well and my parents really encouraged me.

If I didn't live in the UK, I'd live in ...

New York. I love the place - it's one of the ultimate cities of the world. I'm a real city person and there’s lots to do and see there. Unlike London it has spaces like Central Park, and when you stand on a street corner you hear so many languages. There is so much cultural activity going on. It’s my stereotype, but New York seems so much more cosmopolitan and radical than the rest of the States.

My first job was ...

A job share as a development officer, working for Arts Integration Merseyside developing arts projects. I only applied because the ad said that disabled people were welcome.

When I come home in the evenings, I ...

Generally switch the TV on. My favourite things to watch at the moment are Ugly Betty, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Spooks. I also watch a lot of BBC FOUR, particularly Storyville.

My favourite drink is ...

Champagne.

My favourite food is ...

Japanese. I love sushi. It fills you up, but it’s not too rich.

Being chosen for a Lifetime Achievement Award is ...

Without wishing to sound clichéd, it's an honour. To be acknowledged by my peers is very touching. A lot of outfits went back and forth, and in the end I got a bargain. I’ll be wearing a sort of rusty golden crushed velvet dress.
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