All too often it’s teachers who spot talent in their students that isn’t always obvious to the students themselves. For Kimberley Hikaka that teacher was Sue Henry, her high school English teacher, who fostered her early engagement in the arts.
Completing a Bachelor of Arts and receiving a Chancellors Award for Top Scholar followed by a Masters in Creative and Performing Arts (Creative Producing) in 2006 Kimberley says she is also particularly thankful to director and writer Vanessa Alexander, who was the course lecturer at the time, and has remained a friend and advisor in her career.
“University provided me with an environment where I could try out the different elements of filmmaking without being pigeon-holed straight away, which is often the challenge you face if you go straight into employment.”
Moving to London and securing a Production Assistant’s role at Carnival Films gave Kimberley her entrée into the world of film production going on to become Head of Production at the end of her seven year association with the company.
Kimberley won a BAFTA in 2015 as co-producer of the multiple award winning serial The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, a two-part ITV drama that has also screened on Netflix which followed the story of retired school master Christopher Jefferies, who was arrested and charged with the murder of his female tenant. Mr Jefferies was later completely cleared and won libel actions against a number of national newspapers for the articles they ran subsequent to his arrest.
“Part of the experience of working on The Lost Honour served as a reminder to spend my time wisely in life and that it is important I do something I really care about on a daily basis – whether that be in telling stories I care about or by contributing back to society and those who do not have the same freedom of choice in life that I have been so lucky to have.”
It was that concern for others less fortunate and holding herself to account that was to prove pivotal in Kimberley’s decision to switch careers in 2015, joining the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
“Perspective has always been one of my core beliefs; being able to keep the bigger picture to the fore and making decisions accordingly. One of the reasons why I decided to venture into something more altruistic was in re-evaluating my work and seeing it had become part of the corporation focused on perpetual growth and increased profitability, discordant with creativity and sustainability. We may only be a small part, but we need to choose wisely what we want to be a small part of, and I realised I have a freedom of choice many others do not.”
Currently on assignment with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Iraq as a logistics manager, Kimberley isn’t ruling out a return to film in the future.
“For the time being my focus is on humanitarian work, but I think the two could be complementary at some point.”