Sneak Peeks!

Connected magazine will be hitting your doormats or inboxes next month so it seemed a good time to share some sneak peeks with you!

Several alumni are in the limelight including an inspirational lawyer who offers legal assistance to prisoners on death row throughout the world, an award-winning whiskey blender and a NASA scientist.

Ian Chang works for Kavalan whiskey

Ian Chang works for Kavalan whiskey

We share with you some of the reasons that we are proud of Reading – we would love to hear some of the reasons that you are proud of your University – tweet us at UniRdg_Alumni using #reasonstobeproudofreading.

Reasons to be proud

Also included in the upcoming issue are: an opinion piece on the future of the great outdoors in primary education, an exciting update on the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) refurbishment and lots of news about the University, including some big anniversaries.

An artist's vision of the new MERL experience

An artist’s vision of the new MERL experience

This month has been very Connected-focussed for me, and I am really excited about this issue. I hope that you like the new design and find the mix of articles interesting. I’ve tried to make it as diverse as possible so whatever you love about Reading, I hope you will find some of it in this magazine. As you know, I am an alumna myself so it is wonderful to be able share the latest news with you all through the magazine and e-newsletters, but one of my favourite parts of the job is hearing what you are up to now. I am finding new ways to share your success stories so I need to have more and more to share! Tweet me, email me or even pick up the phone and ring me on 0118 3784480. I would love to hear from you.

You may remember that towards the end of last year we invited you to take part in a survey to tell us what you want from your alumni programme. In the upcoming Connected we tell you what we learned from this and how we are using that knowledge, but that doesn’t mean that your involvement is at an end. I would be really interested to hear what you think about the upcoming issue of Connected, so please drop me a line when you have read yours and tell me what you think.

Sam Benjamin – from UoR to the British Urban Film Festival

For today’s blog, alumnus Sam Benjamin tells us what life is like as a professional in the arts and shares his recent success coming soon to a London film festival.

Sam Benjamin at DOUBLE CROSS Premiere Lyric Hammersmith 2015Graduating in 2007 with a BA in History from Reading (going by my birth name Benjamin Cook!), I am now a professional actor, playwright and screenwriter. I’ve starred in John Bishop’s Little Cracker on Sky One, Old Jack’s Boat on BBC one alongside Doctors Who’s Bernard Cribbins and Freema Aygeman, and on September 20th I am excited to share that a movie I wrote and star in alongside Kyla Frye (Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow), the British crime caper movie Double Cross, will be screened with the British Urban Film Festival on Sept 20th at Genesis Cinema, London.

Not the most obvious outcome you might think for someone who left the University with a history degree. But in truth, the education and my experience at Reading helped me discover who I am, where my passions lie, and gave me the tools, the skills, and the vision that has helped me get into showbusiness.

Truth be told, my childhood dream was to be a Hollywood actor…but coming from a modest Merseyside background, a lad who showed promise in academia was always going to be encouraged to get a ‘proper job’. I went to Reading after a grammar school education filled with traditional subjects, and history was my favourite. After all, without history, there would BE no other subjects. However I knew that when I got my place at Reading, that their Film, Theatre & TV Department was lively, and I knew that I had a secret mission to test the waters outside of my main study.

Dogged in my determination to maintain my theatrical adventures, I was the first ever history undergrad who entered their third year with theatre modules still forming part of their degree. Analytical, research, and literary skills were honed and discovered by both subjects as I starred in many plays on Bulmershe campus – and was encouraged by amazing people like Steven Atkinson (now artistic director of High Tide Theatre, an undergrad at the time), Becky Hillman, John Bull, Graham Saunders, Lib Taylor and everyone at the FT&T Dept.

Following Reading, I got a job in a bank, saved up money whilst auditioning, got a place at Drama Studio London (who boast Forest Whitaker and Emily Watson as their alumni), and for the last six years I’ve been having a ball in the entertainment industry. Without my time at Reading, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.

If you fancy a night of the best in British short films and want to see a stylish crime caper movie (think Mission:Impossible, Mr & Mrs Smith), book your tickets for Double Cross at Genesis Cinema here:
You can keep up to date with my movie @doublecrossfilm on twitter, and feel free to connect with me through @sambenjaminnow – aways great to hear from fellow grads! And keep an eye out for an appearance in E4’s Fresh Meat later this year…

Double Cross at Genesis Cinema 2015