Lisa Scott Lee: From Dubai headmistress to life as a popstar

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    Lisa Scott Lee: From Dubai headmistress to life as a popstar

 
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Credit: Dubai

In this episode of Interview, we’re joined by Lisa Scott Lee, one of the members of the British pop group Steps and one of the founding partners at Dubai Performing Arts.

Jane Witherspoon:

You’ve just got back together with Steps. You’re hot off the heels of a whistle-stop tour. How’s it going?

Lisa Scott Lee:

We just released our new album, ‘What the Future Holds’, which was only last week. And I’m very proud to say it went into the iTunes charts at number one.

Number two in the UK charts, and it was number three in Australia and number five in Indonesia and just all over the world we had lots of success with it, so I yes, it’s you caught me at a time where I’m feeling very blessed and grateful.

We’ve been together for 23 years now. So we had a break a few years back. And I think, you know, the thing for us was our fan base is just so loyal. And they kept asking, when are you coming back? And I think really we thought the easy option would to be to release another greatest hits and that would have been going down the easy route.

But we wanted to give the fans something new and as artists as well, it’s great to sing all your old hits, but when you’re performing and you are touring the world, it’s also nice to have new music and fresh music.

So we recorded the new album and the title track, the single track was written by Sia What the Future Holds. So I’m a massive Sia fan so it’s wonderful to have a Sia track on the album.

Jane Witherspoon:

Do you think the industry has changed massively from when you started out and what’s that evolvement been like for you?

Lisa Scott Lee:

You know, honestly, we’ve seen such changes and it’s evolved so much from 1997. Firstly, there was no Internet. We had no social media. You know, this the technology has come on so much and it’s a wonderful thing.

Obviously, you’ve got the pros and cons for social media, but from our point of view, it’s an instant discussion and you get instant feedback from the fans because if you release a single, we can hear straight away what they think about it.

And also when we go on tour, we look at the streaming sites so we can see which songs are most popular. So when we’re putting our setlist together, we can see exactly what the audience wants.

Jane Witherspoon:

Covid has impacted everybody and every industry, every household. Why should we be supporting the arts? In some countries, they’re asking people to retrain.

Lisa Scott Lee:

There are so many people and talented performers out there in the world, all over the world. They’ve had the same training that I have.

So I’ve been singing and dancing from the age of three, and I, I achieved all my qualifications and exams and dance, and then I auditioned for Italia Conti, the stage school in London, and that’s where I finished my training, and I became a teacher of dance.

So I’m a qualified teacher, which enables me to do this, which we will talk about. And, you know, it takes years and years of dedication and passion and there are so many people out there in the same position as me.

And I just feel really fortunate that Steps are still working and we can perform. And obviously, it’s different at the minute and we all have to be following the regulations and stay safe and what have you. But I think theatre and film and music, it’s the entertainment that people need right now.

Jane Witherspoon:

Was it different once you made it to how you thought it would be? Because you say your first love is performance. And with that comes the offshoot of fame. That isn’t always a pretty side of it. Did that open your eyes to another side of the business?

Lisa Scott Lee:

Yeah, I think it can be very difficult. There’s a lot of pressures on pop stars, sports stars, you know, anybody really in our field and in our industries.

And I think it’s so it’s so difficult because when you’ve trained all your life for something that is the premier, you know, that’s the most important thing that sure, you’re a natural reason for doing it.

But obviously, when you are in a successful pop group and we’re having number ones and we’ve toured the world, which is just wonderful, I think it’s difficult when you start to get the press intrusion and there’s definitely a negative side to fame. But for me, I’ve never dwelled on that.

Jane Witherspoon:

Tell me what brought you to Dubai. We’re at Dubai Performing Arts School, which you helped establish. How did that come about?

Lisa Scott Lee:

My husband Johnny and I and our two children, Jaden and Star Lily moved here in 2011. The reason we came out was because we came on holiday and we fell in love with Dubai and we bought a place on The Palm.

And after a couple of years, we saw a gap in the market for a performing arts school such as DPA. And because I’ve trained Italia Conti Theatre in London and Johnny trained at Performers college — both vocational colleges, very prestigious.

We just felt that there was a niche here and there’s a desire from the children to perform. And I think also there are so many benefits for children performing, such as confidence building, social skills, also public speaking as well. So regardless of what field they’re going to go into in their career when they’re older. It’s just honesty. It’s life skills.

Jane Witherspoon:

Also in the last three years, you’ve been able to expand in your new home.

Lisa Scott Lee:

We have we’ve been very lucky. We’re supported by Taaleem and they are one of the leading boards for the schools and the education here within Dubai and Abu Dhabi and the UAE. And they love what we’re doing. And so they’ve asked us to come and offer our performing arts classes within their schools. We are very hands-on here.

We’re open six days a week running classes for children from three years to 18 years. And actually, we’ve just launched our BTEC in performing arts here in the school in Dubai British School Jumeirah Park. And it’s the first BTEC and performing arts level three across the whole of the UAE Middle East.

Jane Witherspoon:

How is it for you when you became a mum and you had to balance and juggle that working career with your children?

Lisa Scott Lee:

It’s not easy. And as any working parent out there knows and it’s still a balance I’m trying to find. And if I’m honest, I do find it difficult sometimes because I have my DPA principal hat on here in Dubai and then I jump on a plane. For example, we recently flew to London to record the Royal Variety Performance, which is such an accolade.

It’s an incredible event and performance to be a part of and to perform for the royal family in the UK and all the stars that were appearing on the show. So sometimes it’s strange because I’m here as principal and everybody calls me Miss Lisa. And then I go I jump on a plane and I’m a pop star again.

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