“It is said that we create our own reality – and I believe so 100 percent. However, I take this capability we all have a step further – and create realities within realities for people to explore, learn from, and love through. That is why I do what I do.”Pandora Kew
Pandora Kew is a native New Yorker who has constantly divided her time between the United States and the United Kingdom due to having an American mother and a British father. A dual national, their international upbringing provided a unique experience for multicultural artistic development. Growing up with both American and British television and entertainment, she soon found a preference for the artistic stylings of British television in their dramatic, comedic, and documentary works. Pandora is currently planning on moving to the United Kingdom permanently by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021 to pursue a career in British entertainment (however, if the opportunity presents itself, she is available to move earlier – Covid19 permitting.)
Pandora noted that studying both acting and filmmaking at SUNY Fredonia was no easy task. Her university’s academic advisor questioned her regarding pursuing majors in both acting and film; expressing concern that she would never finish both programs, and that she could jeopardize each individual major in the process. She continued to overcome those odds. Pandora Kew graduated in 2018 with dual Bachelor’s degrees: a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, and a Bachelor of Science in Communication Video Production with a focus in Narrative Film. She completed the two 4-year programs in only 5 years, and received Cum Laude Honors for both degrees. She has amassed an impressive volume of professional work in both fields as a result of her education and work ethic.
Pandora understands there is a deep synergy between both sides of the camera often not appreciated by either side individually. She describes herself as someone who “essentially majored in television – and[…]every single cog of that creative gear.”
“I’ve heard every critique – from the small ones, like ‘both my careers don’t belong on the same website,’ to the big ones, like ‘both my careers can’t be pursued in tandem – you have to choose eventually.’ To the naysayers, I say this: ‘I essentially majored in television – and that means I’ve studied every single cog of that creative gear. Am I not allowed to fall in love with every part of it all at once?’ Jobs in acting have led me to jobs behind the camera, and vise versa. They support one another, and create the rungs of the creative ladder I happily continue to climb.”
Pandora owns a 6K RED Dragon X – an industry-standard filmmaking camera, which allows her to produce high-quality work, meeting industry expectations. Pandora’s passion for behind the camera work is rooted in post-production – and for anyone who’s ever edited RED footage, it’s a challenge to say the least. Fortunately, Pandora has many years’ experience editing RED footage in Premiere Pro – which in part has led her to amass an impressive résumé of film festival work.
Pandora Kew edited a short film entitled “CHOICES,” which was accepted into the Film And Her Film Festival due to her editing work with RED Footage alone. She also edited and acted in a RED-shot short film for her production company geo-9 entitled “Burning At Both Ends.” Created for the 50 Hr. Film Festival, the film won an award for “Best Use of Prop.” The inclusion of the prop of a candle was essential in all submissions, and they appreciated geo-9‘s implementation of the candle in their story. The same film was then screened in the Fredonia Film Festival shortly thereafter, alongside two other 30 minute short films Pandora assistant edited – “KrellRaiser” and “Cerebrum” (all films shot with a RED camera, and edited in Premiere Pro.)
Pandora has also appeared in film festivals for her acting work and production work. In both 2015 and 2014, she acted for Backseat Magic Productions, appearing in two short films: “Shuffled” and “Expiration Date;” which were created for the 48 Hr. Film Festival. In 2019, Pandora was the production manager and assistant set designer for Green Oak Films, producing a documentary entitled “Among The Hemlocks,” which was screened at the Niagara Falls International Film Festival at Regal Cinemas. This film went on to boast a broadcast credit on Access Channel 5 in addition to being screened at the Fredonia Opera House, and the Patterson Library.
“Among the Hemlocks led me to two proud moments of my filmmaking career: my first television broadcast credit, and the first time I ever saw my name in credits on the big screen. Looking up at the big screen in Regal Cinemas and seeing my name – it was like watching my dreams come true right before my very eyes. I know that my work with Among The Hemlocks is just the beginning of a bright future in the industry. Many many thanks to Roslin Smith, who I stayed up with past 3 AM crafting a shot with while you were battling cancer. Your work ethic continues to inspire me.”
Pandora now boasts another television broadcast credit with a station she grew up watching: WNED|WBFO PBS. The show is entitled Discovering Western New York, and it showcases the many wonderful people and places that make Western New York what it is. She describes the story of how the opportunity to film for the show fell into her lap:
Tony Augustine, the one-man genius behind Discovering Western New York, is a man I met purely by being in the right place at the right time. While doing some volunteer work at a local business in downtown Fredonia, he came to the shop discussing the desire to film it for his show. When he heard I was a filmmaker too, he asked to see some of my work. One thing led to another, and I have now filmed b-roll for his television show! He has even offered to allow me to produce and host my own segment! Once COVID-19 has stopped, and the need for social distancing disappears, I plan on doing just that! So stay tuned!
Pandora’s portfolio through university and beyond is impressive to say the least, but it is also worth mentioning that Pandora’s secondary High School education was with the Buffalo Academy for the Visual And Performing Arts; where she earned both Theatre and High School diplomas. Although her major was Theatre, she also took electives in Video Production. It was here she produced her very first video at the age of sixteen – a music video to the song “Sparrow” by Simon and Garfunkel. At her school’s film festival, she was the only Theatre major who had her work appear in the festival (all the others being Communication Majors.) This video was then submitted to the NYSSSA Application Festival upon the suggestion of her teacher, Mr. Vafai. The film went on to win Best Film at the festival, and was subsequently screened at Squeeky Wheel, later the same year. She wrote, acted in, shot, and edited the video herself. In addition, at the age of fourteen, she wrote and starred in her own play entitled “Who She Was, Is, And Always Will Be,” which was professionally produced by The Subversive Theatre Collective in 2011. Subversive was so impressed with her submission, they created a spotlight for youth submissions in their annual “Subversive Shorts” short play collection. She developed her passion for both acting and filmmaking in grade school, which later led to her studying dual bachelor degrees in these fields. These humble beginnings were indicative of the start of a promising career path – and she has only blossomed from there.
“I think one of the most unique things about having a career in both filmmaking and acting, is the opportunity to be able to produce every level of your own content. It is a joy to be able to say that you have created an entire project from start to finish, with your vision implemented throughout. This kind of creative freedom is liberating and exciting to explore.”
Although her love for independent work is strong, creative collaboration is essential to Pandora’s artistic pursuits. She created a film production crew called geo-9, aptly named after the classroom number at university she met her fellow production crew members in – “G0-9.” She assembled her team based on who she believed was the best of the best in her class, as she desired to do more with them than just what was assigned. Moreover, she picked people who she believed were truly open to creative collaboration, and would create something wonderful together. And they did- note above their film festival work/awards. Her role in geo-9 is to be an actor and a post-producer in the team’s films. She selected Jack Kincaid for her audio producer, the man responsible for the well-known audio drama Edict Zero. She chose Corey McCrea for her director, who now lives in LA pursuing his own film goals. In addition, she selected Sean Smith as her producer, who currently is based out of New York, and Alex Charron, who is currently a news producer for News 8 WROC Rochester. She’s immensely proud for having created this team, and speaks of them all very fondly.
Creative collaboration is something Pandora is certainly no stranger to in her field of acting as well. Most of Pandora’s acting credits are in Theatre – both musical theatre and stage plays. In theatre, much like in a film crew, working together as a team is essential to putting on a good show. One show she appeared in, “I’m Beautiful!” was co-written by herself and her entire senior acting class, and was produced by Ujima Theatre Company. Working together with 20+ writers may seem daunting, but they pulled it off expertly, and they put on a wonderful production born of the creative minds of many talented actors.
Although she wishes to professionally pursue on-camera acting, her love of theatre is by no means dimmed by this pursuit. Theatre, she notes, is “very different[…]”
“A lot of people unfamiliar with acting assume (fairly enough!) that acting for camera and acting for stage are similar, if not the same, art forms. In fact, they are very different. Although both require authenticity, theatre is louder, bigger – a projection of the self beyond the limits of your physical body. The audience itself becomes a part of the show; a part of the conversation. Whereas, with film, the camera is also a fellow partaker in the conversation – and yet you treat it like a guardian angel – constantly watching you, constantly with you, experiencing things alongside you – and yet unseen, unheard, and unaddressed. In film, your emotions are instead projected inward, and yet still are observed and shared with this invisible camera entity. And they’re both fascinating feeling tones to explore.
Pandora began amassing professional theatre credits since she was a child, and continues to partake in theatre productions whenever she can. Some of the companies she’s worked with include The Subversive Theatre Collective, Ujima Theatre, First Look Buffalo, New Phoenix Theatre, and Walter Gloor Mainstage. This is on top of the countless productions she’s participated in with her performing arts high school and her previous university. Her love of theatre, she says, saved her life.
Theatre was there for me when nobody else was, and I mean that without a hint of hyperbole. There was a time in my life where I felt I couldn’t go on – the pain of some of the things I had been through was too much for someone who was just a child at the time to bear. Although I’ve had a painful past, theatre taught me to healthily deal with my emotions, and helped me get to know the person I am deep down inside. I can say this wholeheartedly: Theatre literally saved my life. I hope I continue performing for the rest of my life, because ironically enough, I feel that the most authentic version of who I am comes out when I’m pretending to be someone else.
In addition to the many other creative channels Pandora explores, she has several notable audio drama and narration credits under her belt. Working with Grammy Award-Winning Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media, she has narrated short stories for Nightmare Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine. In addition, she has played several parts in the award-winning audio drama, Edict Zero-FIS, which has steadily growing popularity in the United Kingdom.
“I’m grateful for my audio work now more than ever. My audio work is something artistically I can still do during quarantine, uninterrupted. On May 6th, a Nightmare story I narrated was released that I recorded directly from home. I sent the file to the team to edit without issue. I’m happy my creativity is not completely stifled during this difficult time! Jack also reached out to me about doing some bit parts for Edict Zero in the next few weeks. I’m very much looking forward to it!”
Currently, Pandora is filming and hosting segments for the WNED|WBFO PBS television show, “Discovering Western New York.”¹ Pandora is also set to perform in the New Phoenix Theatre‘s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, playing the lead character of “Honey.”¹ In addition, she is currently co-producer and an actor for First Look Buffalo‘s production of the play “To The New Girl.” Finally, Pandora’s production company geo-9, is planning on producing a short film in 2020.¹
¹) Indicates projects that have been delayed due to Covid-19
Despite these Covid-related setbacks, Pandora is only looking forward to her future – and is focusing on tieing up loose ends with her projects in the states, and planning her eventual move across the pond to the United Kingdom.
Pandora’s ultimate creative goal is to work with the BBC in any element of its creative production – eventually playing The Doctor on Doctor Who. She has had this goal since she was a child, and seeing as a female Doctor role is now possible due to Jodie Whittaker’s recent casting, she is more and more convinced she’ll get her chance to play the beloved part.
“I’ve always thought that my dream of playing The Doctor on Doctor Who wasn’t too big to have – It’s just something I’ve always known I was meant to do. I’ve never related to a fictional character more in my life than I have The Doctor. There is such a large and profound essence of who I am in that part, and in turn, the part has influenced the way I live my life every day, and how I view myself. I’ve even crafted my career goal around it! I know in my heart(s) that one day, it’ll be my turn to play this role – so that I can give of myself unto the role as it has given of itself unto me.
She continues, discussing the significant role the show Doctor Who has had on her life:
My dream started because I had this immense love for the Doctor when I watched Doctor Who. Here he was, waltzing about with boundless energy, being clever and kind, and saving the universe all in his stride. I saw in him everything I knew deep down I could be. He represented the best version of myself, and I feel like the Doctor was the only fictional character I had ever come across who I truly felt saw the world exactly as I did, and understood who I was deep down inside. I saw myself in The Doctor. I saw every part of who I am. I used to joke that if you wanted to get to know me better, watch Tennent’s era of Doctor Who. Then, one day, it hit me – I can BE The Doctor. I can be him because he IS me! Of course I can! I’m an actor – that means I can be anything! And from that day on, I decided that is what I will one day do. And I know nothing can stop me from reaching this goal. It’s the one role that truly showcases the person I truly am.
Besides the vast number of creative outlets she has in her work, Pandora’s hobbies continue to cultivate and explore that same creativity. In her free time, Pandora likes to sing, produce music, play guitar, knit, read, write, watch Star Trek, and eat bagels.
“Does it mention I eat bagels? Because I like bagels. A LOT. Oh, and coffee. Don’t forget to mention the coffee.“
She thanks you immensely for listening to her story and visiting her site. Feel free to hit the contact button for any professional inquiries, questions, or comments – Pandora answers as many of them as they can personally via email.