26 July 2016

Acclaimed writer receives Distinguished Alumni Award

Acclaimed screenwriter, playwright and Sheffield alumna Adeola ‘Ade’ Solanke (BA English Literature 1984) was honoured during graduation last week (Tuesday 19 July 2016) for her achievements in the Arts and presented with the Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award.

Ade Solanke with her Distinguished Alumni Award

The award recognises alumni who have achieved distinction in their profession and made outstanding contributions to business and community life and is named in honour of our late former Vice-Chancellor.

During her sterling career, Ade has been a Royal Literary Fund Fellow and held the position of the British Film Institute writer-in-residence.

Ade came to Sheffield to study English Literature in 1981 and loved the bustling, multi-cultural and energetic city. The music scene (it was the time of The Human League) added to the experience, making this a dynamic and inspiring place to be a student. She wrote for the student newspaper Darts and believes that her Sheffield experiences laid the foundation for her career in telling stories.

Since graduating from the University in 1984, Ade has become renowned for her original and thought-provoking scriptwriting, though this is not where she first started. After graduation, she wrote as an arts journalist, and later formed a PR company which focussed on promoting other artist’s work. It was during this time, and for this work, that Ade was named London’s Top Youth Entrepreneur by the London Enterprise Agency.

Following this Ade developed an interest in screenwriting, and in 1992 received a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue screenwriting for her Master’s in California. She stayed in the US for a time, working in Hollywood for Disney, New Line and the Sundance Institute as a story analyst.

After five years in the USA Ade returned to London. After teaching scriptwriting at Goldsmiths, University of London for a time she turned her attention to writing for theatre. Her debut play, Pandora’s Box, provided a moving portrayal of the experience of the African diaspora. The show sold out in London before touring nationally and was nominated as Best New Play at the Off West End Theatre Awards.

Ade was born and brought up in West London by Nigerian parents, along with her three sisters. This led to her work promoting the untold stories of African heritage, with Ade founding the company Spora Stories. The group creates original scripts for both stage and screen and has been widely recognised for its work.

Ade’s latest play brought to life by Spora Stories is East End Boys, West End Girls, premiered in London in July 2015. The play was inspired by her and her son’s experiences of growing up in different parts of London. She will produce her third play, the final part of the trilogy, in 2017.

The Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award

The Professor Robert Boucher Distinguished Alumni Award, for alumni of the University, is named in honour of the late former Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Boucher.

Professor Boucher had a great interest in alumni relations and gave so much to the city of Sheffield over a period of 40 years. He fully appreciated the important contribution that alumni continue to play in the life of a University and was responsible for establishing the University's Development and Alumni Relations Office in 2002.