Greetings from French Riviera! My name is Ali Key Mc Kenzy, I am an actor and film director. I was born in Errachidia in Morocco. Grew up in Evreux, Normandy, France. At a very young age I began to study martial arts: kung fu, this sport helped me a lot. But I decided to choose my career in movie industry. In life I have a principle: I decide my fate.
So far I have played many roles in various films: “Amour” in 2012 directed by Michael Haneke, “4 Stars” with the French actor Jose Garcia, “Transporter Legacy” produced by Luc Besson, also I was in the French TV show: “Section de Recherche” and ect.
Life in France, city of Cannes, in beautiful French Riviera encouraged me to do photography for a hobby. You cannot miss the opportunity to photograph such a wonderful country. It is how I became a famous face in Cannes. People appreciate my talent as a photographer. I speak French, English and Arabic which allows to get to know interesting people from Arabic world who comes to France every summer. My photography hobby helped me learn more about videography.
And in 2017 I produced, directed and played the lead role in my first short movie and with the help of my entourage in Cannes I finished my first film: “Hard Luck”. Now I am writing my next short film: “Hamza”. Maybe you are the one who will watch my upcoming movie! Stay tuned!
I am an independent film producer currently working with incredibly talented industry professionals such as Thomas Keneally, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of Schindler’s List, and double Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffé,
Before I started working in the film industry, I had a short stint as a table tennis competitor. My successes included many tournaments around the country as well as being Kent Number 1 Junior and playing for England in the Under-19 International School Championships. I continued my passion for table tennis after I stopped playing, going on to sponsor and promote a series of international television events on the BBC. These events included working with my friend and World, Olympic and European Champion Jan Ove Waldner (often regarded as the greatest player ever). At grassroots level I also encouraged the sport by offering financial support and helping to run local tournaments which included stars of yesteryear.
My career did not start in entertainment; I have had a varied career across several different industries including financial services, investment sales, arbitrage, property investment, and network marketing. While I still dabble in some of these areas my interest moved more towards the media industry in 2005 when I founded international television production and media sales company GlobalWatch. I achieved great success with the company, working with a host of multi-national companies at CEO level. Most notably, I interviewed and collaborated with several senior Government Officials across many countries including the late President of Ethiopia Girma Wolde-Giorgis, ex-President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and the UK’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Lord Green. My work also took me to Russia where I produced ‘Russia Calling’, a documentary that looked at the changes from the old Soviet Union to the new Russia over the previous 25 years. Following this, I was instrumental in assisting the Russian Stock Exchange with listing their clients’ stock prices on the financial news channel CNBC.
After eight years with my media sales company, I decided to move into film and established GlobalWatch Films in 2013. My aim was to produce a varied slate of feature films with international appeal. Whilst I began to source original content for the company, I decided to get involved in some low-budget features as an executive producer so as to better understand the industry, the filmmaking process, and how films are capable of making exponential profits. I would say I am one of a minority of producers who excels both at the financial side of filmmaking as well as the creative side, being an award-winning storyteller and screenwriter. After many months of conversations, I went to Sydney to meet my new friend and acclaimed author Thomas Keneally and his novelist daughter Meg Keneally. Not only was the seven Oscar winning movie Schindler’s List based on Thomas’ novel Schindler’s Ark, but Thomas also collaborated with Steven Spielberg on some of the original screenplays. Steve Zaillian was later brought on and won the Oscar. Thomas and I spoke at length about our ideas for what makes a great film, and what is important to bring to the industry. We agreed to work on three projects together, all historical epics with great social impact. The first of the three, To Asmara, based on Thomas’ novel, is a love story set amid the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. Set during 1985 with a backdrop of the original Live Aid concerts, the film tells a heart-wrenching story of the terrors of war, as well as bringing a strong, inspiring female lead to the somewhat lacking industry. Our second project together, The Great Hunger, is another heart-wrenching historical tale. Set during the Great Irish Potato Famine, the film follows the story of one young woman falling in love amidst a rising resentment towards the English which culminated in The Easter Rising in 1916. The project is one that will appeal to the millions of Irish diasporas across the globe and is an important part of both Irish and Global history. The final project that Thomas and I will be working on is an adaptation of Thomas’ book American Scoundrel, which tells the story of the notorious civil war General Dan Sickles. A hugely influential person in America’s history, Dan’s story is one with huge commercial appeal across the world.
I am also working with Thomas’ daughter (and co-writer of their book trilogy The Monsarrat series) Meg Keneally on the Cornish-Australian film Fled. Based on Meg’s first solo novel, Fled is an empowering tale of one woman’s survival as she escapes from one of the first Australian penal colonies. With director Elizabeth Blake-Thomas on board, Fled is a film bound to be turning heads during awards season.
Not one to restrict myself to one genre, I have an additional five films on my slate. Ranging from spy-thrillers to comedy-dramas, there is no lack of variety. I am working with a hugely talented team across the projects, including former Student Academy Award winner Christopher Angel.
I have recently completed two projects. Anglo-Indian film Boogie Man, winner of the Best Feature Film category at Cardiff International Film Festival (as well as another 38 wins and two nominations!), is available on Amazon Prime, Sky Store and NowTV in the UK. The second project, Canadian co-production Juliana & the Medicine Fish, is currently being taken to market. The project has already scooped eight award wins and an additional two nominations and looks set to collect even more throughout 2020.
The film industry is ever changing with new techniques for filming and improved technology, but one thing that resonates with me is the ability to tell a great story that can move the audience and make them feel a part of the film that they have become immersed in within those 2-3 hours. I acknowledge that the industry can seem quite ‘closed shop’ to the newcomer and it is a combination sometimes of persistency, talent, tenacity, and making the right contacts that is crucially important as producing a film is not about one person alone – albeit it may be their vision – but a collaborative process which involves many different people.
In the current climate the world is experiencing huge difficulties and how we react to those difficulties and how we help others defines who we are as people. It is not money and fame that are important, it is treating people with the respect that they deserve irrespective of class, wealth, gender, or race. With that in mind, GlobalWatch Films and I are big supporters of race and gender equality, and a lot of the subject matters in their films expose some of the unfortunate situations where these issues have affected people adversely through history. Governments also must take responsibility for the decisions that they make that lead to unnecessary conflict between people who want to live an equal and peaceful life with opportunities for all. Having said that, there are those that take advantage of certain situations for their own personal gain and the labelling of people too quickly in these situations has caused unnecessary problems. Whilst we can all be accused in films of stereotyping that does not mean we can all be accused of some of the aforementioned issues. We are supporting charities such as Action Aid to help to end the oppression that happens to those less fortunate and I would urge even more people to do the same.
From great suffering comes great art, and being a singer-songwriter, producer and broadcaster, I’m so grateful to be alive and succeeding as a multi disciplined artist in America. Affectionately coined, “The Polish Princess” (a sweet title I’ve earned through grace, not birth) — my life story is wrought with real life terror and miracles. My latest chapter, an outcome of the latter, is a beautiful collection of original songs I wrote on my latest album, “Touched By Love.
This album is much more than a music project, it’s a dream, it’s a voice of hope, it’s a chance, it’s a miracle, it’s a proof of my motto: never ever give up on your dreams, find a way.
Just a few months before the Pandemic hit, I started recording, I was thinking, God why now when I’m working on my dream album, why, why? But after meditating and praying in solitude in the mountains away from the NYC clutter and the busyness of my WABC radio show, I’ve reached a holy stillness in my heart and said: Ok, God…you know my destiny, my path, SHOW ME THE WAY! And…he did, step by step and here I am.
My highly anticipated album “Touched By Love”, is crossover Jazz-Pop with all songs written by me and acclaimed composers Dr. Octavio Vazquez and Dr. Graham Keir. All of my songs derive from the depths of my personal experience. I’m also experimenting with poetry by featuring a beautiful poem entitled “Dance With Me” written by an award winning, brilliant Poet, Writer, Poetry Film Dir. Fella Cederbaum. Also featured on the track (Spoken Word).
But it all started a long time ago. Born and raised in abject poverty in Communist Poland, music was always my powerful escape. I found it freeing and comforting during moments when my body and soul were hurting deeply, or when I was scared and abused, I’d run to the forest near my home with my guitar and sing and cry and pray for hours. It was all I had to comfort me.
My songs, like my life are filled with love, pain, perseverance, hope and light, smiling through the oppression, poverty and abuse that I experienced growing up. As if starvation, bullying in school, wasn’t hardship enough, I also suffered at the hands of my very abusive, alcoholic father and was denied the artistic education I so desperately wanted. It was my dream! Despite winning several prestigious vocal competitions and awards throughout Poland, I wasn’t allowed to continue my artistic studies.
After years of abuse and disagreements I was thrown out of my home by my father around age nineteen. I found a place to stay and working several jobs including working in a glass factory in Czech Republic, to put myself through college, I studied Fine Arts and Psychology, proudly receiving a masters degree in the latter.
After trudging through hellish experiences for most of my young life, I feel like I’m finally at heaven’s door, while very much alive and realizing my dreams in America. I embrace my life here, I treasure who I am now, a true Polish fighter-survivor from Chopin’s country and a successful immigrant – now American.
I’ve been often described as a European-American treasure, for my media, art, and humanitarian achievements, which means so much to me. And as an internationally accomplished singer, I had a chance to perform for Pope John Paul II and I successfully debuted on the Top 40 AC radio charts in the USA.
I made history by becoming the first Polish-American singer to perform and record with the world-renowned, Grammy-winning Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and its music director, multi-Grammy winning legendary trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis.
I was always trying to sing but there were so many obstacles. I clearly and fondly remember at age five, I was performing with my one-member band, which was my five years old best friend who accompanied me on her little mandolin. Our stage was a huge pile of old wooden boards facing the woods. The forest was my audience, I imagined every tree was a person who loved me and my singing. All I needed was my mic made from a stick and rope, and I was transported to a different world…”
And yes indeed I stepped into a different world. Several years ago in NY I recorded and produced my debut album “Another Girl” with Norah Jones’s engineer Pete DeBoar and Grammy-winning producer/engineer Bob Ebeling (Eminem, Kid Rock). My music got to #1 place as “Most Added” to the radio playlists in the US, was chosen by critics as, “Best New Music” and received rave reviews highlighting my artistic ideas and talents. One of the most powerful music critics in history, Scott Yanow, said about my debut: “…an album full of passion, electronics, and power. Yola…shows strong potential.”
And now, on my new exciting album “Touched By Love”, my vocal style branches out into the realms of Jazz, Pop, European Folk and Latin flavors. I proudly collaborate with extraordinary musicians, including: Grammy winning percussionist Luisito Quintero (also a member of legendary Chick Corea’s band), Grammy nominated accordionist Alex Meixner, award winning jazz guitarist Dr. Graham Keir, accomplished bassist Dave Baron (known for his collaborations with Herbie Hancock) and Edsel Gomez, who is a Grammy winning, extraordinary pianist, composer and former music director of Grammy winning jazz legend, Dee Dee Bridgewater, who came on board as music director to help me produce my dream album.
I also brought a couple of master recording engineers to help shape my signature sound like Tom Tedesco, known for his works with the biggest jazz stars including: Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Randy Brecker and also Grammy winning Fran Cathcart.
I am also proud of being an On-Air Personality on WABC Radio NY, the number one talk radio station in the US, hosting and producing my own talk show, “The Yola Nash Show”. I give my listeners exclusive access to conversations with fascinating guests to inspire them to live a fuller, happier, more meaningful life. I interview: A-list celebrities, world changers, spiritual leaders, inspirational speakers…even poets!
I have a very personable style of connecting with my guests and I truly embrace them. I lately interviewed: Kevin Bacon, Olivia Newton-John, Seal, Gloria Gaynor, Chris Botti, Howie Mandel, Cesar Millan, Paula Abdul, Fran Drescher, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Poland just to mention a few.
While dodging bullets has been a nine-lives survival technique, winning accolades for my precious as they describe “golden voice” has made it all worthwhile. It showed me that life could be beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing!
I landed in this country in NYC with only $1000 in my packet, (money I borrowed from my Mom and Grandma), without speaking English, with no friends, no place to go. But I survived and made my life meaningful and successful.
And I hope my story and my music will inspire people to be stronger and dream big, especially now during these challenging times, so they can find a creative way through the impossible waters of life and the impossible becomes possible.
From oppression to expression, I have faced adversity, triumphed over it, and lived to sing about it all, giving me the chance to be “Touched By Love” and touch others with it too
Your Yola Nash @yolanash