Vanessa helps young stars to shine

Vanessa Buckley with her son James
Vanessa Buckley with her son James

Calderdale mum Vanessa Buckley had always aspired to help young stars pursue a career in show business.

Now, 24 years of running a nail salon and two children later, she is finally making her dreams, and those of others, come true with her own performing arts school.

Vanessa, from Greetland, has swapped manicures for melodrama to launch V Academy of Performing Arts (VADA).

Vanessa has coached her own children – 17-year-old James and 15-year-old Lucy – in acting and public speaking and the pair have enjoyed success on stage and screen.

Lucy has performed in several theatre shows and James’s performances include featuring in the BBC’S Robin Hood, The One Show and Junior Dragon’s Den.

“I felt I had trained James and Lucy well and wanted to pass on my knowledge,” Vanessa said. “But I wanted to be offering the best education. I didn’t want to just run a drama class, I wanted to offer qualifications for my pupils.”

Vanessa trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) so that she could offer lessons accredited by the prestigious institution.

VADA has been at the Orangebox on Thomas Street in Halifax town centre for nearly a year and boasts a 100 per cent LAMDA examination pass rate.

“We have had pupils recalled several time for the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory auditions,” said Vanessa, “And one student has received a performing arts scholarship for Hipperholme Grammar School. We have also had pupils offered places at prestigious schools such as Arts Education, Laine Theatre Arts and LAMDA. “

In November, five VADA students attended the academy’s first performing arts festival and achieved three first places, two second and a third.

Vanessa has also launched a casting agency – VADA Casting Management – open to pupils with good abilities and discipline.

“VADA above and beyond everything else is an inclusive environment,” she said.

“I know my own strengths and weaknesses and pull in people that can offer my pupils the absolute best,” she said.

“I have had children come to me lacking confidence - they won’t look up, they won’t speak. It is amazing how quickly we give them confidence to perform.

“I’ve also had the other extreme - a child who is born for the stage who needs channelling and training. Always at VADA we let the child express themselves and have fun whilst learning. The environment is inclusive so we cater for children with special needs and disabilities.”