Cardiff is accepting of all ambition but this month we want to celebrate women, in particular, women within the creative sector. From the better-known talents like Dame Shirley Bassey and Ruth Jones, Cardiff has an underbelly of women who work hard for the city and dedicate their lives to the arts and celebration of creativity. 

Shirley Bassey. Credit: Matt Holyoak

Our city is known for its contribution and dedication to the art of television. Bad Wolf is a leading production company founded in 2015 by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner MBE. Tranter is one of the most consistently successful and celebrated television producers in the UK. She is a recipient of the BAFTA Special Award for services to the industry and an honorary fellow of the Royal Television Society. Julie Gardner is an award-winning television producer and in 2014, received an MBE for her contribution to the growth of the television industry in Wales. Both women have pioneered to make Cardiff and Wales a prominent location for film and television production.

Credit: Bad Wolf

Cardiff has a sea of women who work as actors in both theatre and film. Cardiff-born Rakie Ayola is known for her work in theatre, television and radio. In 2023, Rakie was the 18th recipient of the prestigious BAFTA Cymru Siân Phillips Award. Film director, Rungano Nyoni, was born in Zambia but moved to Wales as a child. Her first film won a BAFTA Cymru in 2010 and from there, her work has gone on to be praised at film festivals across the world. In 2018, she won a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut for her film ‘I AM NOT A WITCH’.

Rakie Ayola. Credit: Hunger Magazine

Let’s not forget about Cardiff’s thriving musical scene. Artist Cerys Matthews MBE, a musician, author and broadcaster, founded the Good Life Experience festival in 2014 and was awarded an inaugural St David Award for her services to culture from the First Minister of Wales. In the same year, Cerys was awarded an MBE for her services to music. 

Cerys Matthews. Credit: The Telegraph

Poetry and art both resonate with the Welsh people, known for our beautiful Celtic language. Gwyneth Denver Davies MBE is a Welsh poet, who was the inaugural National Poet of Wales in 2005. She is one of the most prominent Welsh poets of her generation and the first writer to take up the Welsh Laureateship. She wrote the bilingual words that can be seen shining on the Wales Millennium Centre, in six-foot-high stained glass letters, which is rumoured to be the biggest poem in the world.

Cardiff born and bred, Polly James is an award-winning radio DJ, host and voiceover artist. After four years on Absolute Radio, Polly moved to host South Wales’ Capital Breakfast with co-host Matt, dominating for seven years and clinching double Best Breakfast show wins at the Arqiva awards. You can now catch her on the airwaves every weekend afternoon on Radio X.

Breaking down barriers and advocating for equality, art is a statement and can change the world. Rosaleen (Rosie) Moriarty-Simmonds OBE is a Welsh author, artist and disability rights campaigner. She was appointed O.B.E. in the 2015 New Year Honours “For Services to the Equality and Rights of Disabled People”. She is an internationally recognised, award-winning Mouth Painting Artist who in December 2023 had her portrait showcased at the Senedd to mark the International Day of Disabled People. 

Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds OBE. Credit: UK Disability History Month

These women have contributed to Wales’ creativity but they are nowhere near the only ones. Cardiff has a never-ending sea of talented individuals who strive to get their voices heard, Cardiff will listen and we’re excited for the next generation of women to thrive in our city. 

Written by Lydia Bowen-Williams | Film Probe

Author WCS

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