It is no secret that Portsmouth’s music, arts and culture scene is impressive. For a small city, our local talent is something to be immensely proud of.
And someone who knows this better than a lot of people is Alaina Blight, who has set up her own talent agency to nurture the young stars of Portsmouth and put them in the spotlight.
‘I wanted to start the agency for local children,’ explains Alaina, who grew up in Gosport but now lives in Stamshaw.
‘Most of the agencies are based in London and not every child can go there. There’s so much talent down here so I think it’s important to represent it.’
Alaina is no stranger to the stage and has been performing for as long as she can remember.
‘I knew from a young age that I always wanted to perform and I have always been creative.
‘When I am performing, I am at my most comfortable. I guess you could say I am socially awkward,’ laughs Alaina.
‘I’m a completely different person on stage.’
Alaina still performs and choreographs regularly at Bodyrox Productions, Locks Heath, and says it was there that she realised how much she enjoyed working with children.
She adds: ‘It was always a dream of mine to start a talent agency.
‘I wanted something to call my own and provide for the local children.
‘I wanted to give kids the opportunity I never had.'
Alaina, who has a criminology degree, used to work for Hampshire Constabulary in the probation service.
But she has also worked as a parade performer at Disneyland Paris and a cast member in a number of children’s shows.
Today, she works at the Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, while running her agency on the side.
However, the idea of Victory Talent Agency was born last year while she was working at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.
‘I was working as their programme manager but I was made redundant in September 2018.
‘Working in a theatre was great – I really miss it sometimes.
‘But once I had more time on my hands, I focused on the agency.’
Victory Talent Agency lines young people up for auditions by signing them up to Spotlight – which acts like a job centre website but for theatre, television and entertainment auditions.
But to get the ball rolling, Alaina needed to get young people to join her agency so she held her first auditions earlier this year.
She explains: ‘Anyone was able to audition but had to perform a certain scene or sing a certain song so I could see what level they were at.
‘Obviously, some people have more talent than others.
‘I had 25-30 youngsters turn up – I really didn’t know how many to expect. I took about 15 on from that audition.
‘I sign them up for jobs that fit their requirements, such as height, age, ability, gender and more.
‘I scout for jobs about once a day, mostly online.
‘Membership is free but I ask them to have their own professional headshots.’
Today, Victory Talent Agency has 35 young people enrolled – some from Marie Clarke School of Dance, Alverstoke School of Dance, Kim Ellen School of Dance and Theatretrain, Isle of Wight.
‘I have had success – two of my girls will be in the Nativity at the Mayflower this year.
‘But my business is only about 12 months old so it still needs to grow.’
Alongside her work for the agency and job at the Spinnaker Tower, Alaina also organises masterclasses open to everyone, not just Victory Talent.
She says: ‘I try to get big names involved to provide something different. I want young people to come out and enjoy themselves.’
During the past few months, Alaina has also organised classes with actor Adam Garcia, former Pussycat Dolls singer Kimberly Wyatt and casting director Jo Hawes.
Looking forward, Alaina hopes her agency will continue to grow and has many plans for the future.
‘I am currently planning the Solent Novice Dance Festival at Trafalgar School, Portsmouth, for early next year.
‘I hope Victory Talent keeps growing. I want it to become a name, not just an agency.
‘I want to continue providing opportunities.’
For more details visit victorytalent.co.uk.