11th Sept 2023
Mollie Leivars, a former gateway student with Abingdon & Witney College, has been nominated for a Women with Edge Award at the 2023 Women of the Year Awards, for her work with young people in the film industry.
Mollie started Spirit Productions, now an established film company, when they were just 15 years old. Since setting up the company, they have won the Kinsale Shark Award for scriptwriting, along with nominations for a 2023 National Diversity Award for being a positive role model.
Their films have also been screened at several national and international film festivals, including the FMFF in Florida and the Youth Diversity Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2023. Mollie commented: “It’s something that I can’t wrap my head around and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to. I never thought in a million years that this would happen when I first joined college. I barely had the confidence to speak to anyone and my self-esteem was essentially on the floor, I think I would have laughed if someone would have told me!”
Four years ago, Mollie wanted to find a way to complete her GCSEs without having to go back into a school environment. She joined the 14-16 Gateway programme at Abingdon & Witney College. “I came across Gateway kind of by accident, it was a huge leap of faith to join as I was terrified of it being similar to school, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!” said Mollie.
“In previous schools, I had been told that the things that I wanted to achieve were impossible for me! So, to go from that to a situation where I was surrounded by people who were nothing but encouraging and supportive, completely changed everything for me.”
Today, Mollie goes beyond their work behind the camera. They use their life experiences to support other young people who want to get into the film industry. They have set up weekly youth support groups for students to help with acting for TV and screen, along with additional support for auditions, castings and self-tapes.
Mollie said “I now understand the impact that the College staff have had on me which is what made me want to attempt to do the same for other young people. From experience, I know how much it means to have someone believe in what you’re doing!”
When asked what advice they would give young people that are struggling with school life, Mollie said: “Never be afraid to do things differently, alternatives to school can be lifelines to so many young people. The ‘norm’ isn’t always the best way forward nor is it always the right path, you have to find what works for you! Don’t try and fit in if it means losing who you are, never regret your experiences and above all else, things will always get better!”
The Women of the Year Awards 2023 take place at The Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel in October. Good luck Mollie!
If you would like to find out more about our gateway programmes, for information about what life could be like for you at Abingdon & Witney College, then why not check out some of the links below.