Interview by Steve Dean
Photo by Simon Bamford
If I said TV, film, music, theatre, radio, dance, fashion, modelling, DJ, comedy, magic and photography, that would just about cover everything that Debra Anderson and her new company 'That's Showbizness' is all about.
Currently managing talented Stoke-on-Trent band The Fears, Debra is confident that her new venture with her partner Rob is just what the showbusiness industry needs. She is also on the lookout for any other bands that may meet the criteria she feels the industry demands.
Originally from Birmingham, she began dancing at 5 years old after she went to watch her sister attending her dance classes. Her sister's teachers noticing that the little girl was itching to get up and dance, she was invited to have a try; an event which eventually led to her winning the all-England dancing championship and visiting South Africa, not to mention an appearance at 14 on Blue Peter; sporting what she calls 'an atrocious haircut’.
Despite her dancing talents, all she really wanted to do was sing and ended up in a band put together by Fine Young Cannibals vocalist Roland Gift, which eventually fizzled out. She then found herself going to London and drifting into fashion modelling and promotions, a pursuit she found infinitely preferable to office work.
Eventually taking up once again her ambition to be a singer, and a bit wilder in those days, she found herself in a rock band and then an R&B group, the names of which she has long since forgotten. However, this led to an interview with Kiss fm in 1998 and an eventual meeting with Peter Hammond, who was involved with Stock, Waterman and Aitken. A production genius of 110 top 10 hits at the time, Peter noticed her passion for singing and introduced her to Graham and Nick, two guys who shared similar ideas and ambitions and the result was a five-piece all-girl group along the lines of the Village People called Girls @ Play, which also contained a certain Rita Simons, now a member of the cast of Eastenders. This wasn't really her bag though and left the group after she realised that her ideas were being stolen; the band itself reaching 18 in the charts with 'Airhead' shortly after she left.
Spending some time as a promotional girl at Harvey Nichols, she heard her voice on the radio being used in a cover version of Mel and Kim's 'Respectable'. Disgusted with events, Debra decided that she needed to do something to help the industry as a whole. This is how That’s Showbusiness was born.
She left London for Stoke-on-Trent, where her mum had taken up residence, and met her partner Rob, as I understand it, the first hairdresser to have a licenced barber shop in the whole country.
At first, she considered Stoke-on-Trent, with its steadily declining industries, to be something of a land of the forgotten. However, she decided it was time to get all her ideas together in the form of That’s Showbizness, a communication portal including many useful features for artists and companies alike. Containing news pages; adverts; 'tipped for the top'; what's on; new releases; finding new people; opportunities in modelling, etc; what's new?; auditions and a much needed 'needle in a haystack' problem solver. Debra has built this tool through the eyes of an artist and her experiences in the industry, she said it is a tool she wished she had had when she was active in the industry. She has just taken on an IT firm to handle upkeep of the site and there are already actively updating and implementing new design features which will assist the user in the future. Avoiding myspace, she is keeping to trusting her instincts. She also offers an advice section to help people to avoid the many pitfalls the entertainment industry holds. Everybody is encouraged to help each other.
She has some big plans, including the organising of a talent show at a venue in Birmingham in the not-too-distant future. For those who are interested you can register your interests on their coming pages soon.
Registration is free for artists and promotional credits can be purchased from as little as £7.25 - very reasonable. She is also intending to enlist a small TV company to film the event and there will also be some helpful prizes, geared towards assisting the winners with their chosen career. Although the computer is down for a few weeks due to some last minute tweakings, people can still register interests or contact Debra on firstname.lastname@example.org
The company can be found at www.thatsshowbizness.com or www.thatsshowbusiness.com and persons must be over 18 to join up; evidence having to be produced for those wanting to register under the age of 18. Basically Debra has sackloads of experience within the industry and wants to use it for the common good of all. Brimming with enthusiasm, there is no reason why That’s Showbizness shouldn’t go a long, long way. We at Stoke Sounds wish her all the best with her venture.