Royston is the first person on a whole host of celebrity speed dials. If you’re looking for talent for that all exclusive music video or live performance then Royston is your man.
From child star protégée to performing live at the O2 and Manhattan Gardens he’s worked with the world’s biggest pop stars and can drop names most people can only dream of in the world of entertainment citing Rita Ora, Rihanna and Beyonce as people he’s worked with and having risen up from the salubrious ranks of his local youth club growing up in London, he knows what it takes to get onto the main stage … and he wants to help you fulfill your dream potential too through his agency RnD Creatives.
Royston starts by talking about his humble beginnings living with his mum, brother and sisters back at home where he says they lived very much from day to day and how he found an outlet for his passion for dance at his local youth centre to whom he is most grateful to for the opportunities that he got.
“I found these outlets like youth centres and local dance schools and luckily they were places where people came down, spotted myself and gave me the opportunity to be in the position I am now. I was very blessed to have the opportunities I did have, I had great mentors and they always say it is not what you know, it’s who you know – and also being in the right place, at the right time.”
He got a full scholarship to the Sylvia Young Theatre School and was rubbing shoulders with other future GB talent in search of fame who would go on to be successful performers themselves such as Amy Winehouse, Billy Piper and Matt Willis. It was here that he learnt some of the finer aspects and range of skills needed to work in the entertainment industry.
“Being in that school really enabled me to zone in on my talents from a training perspective. Before I went there I was just raw talent. That really opened the scope – being in front of the camera, using my personality in another way more so than just dancing. I was interviewing people at red carpet events, we had TV shows with our own content and so it really just made me realise there was more to performing than just dancing and singing.”
Royston stayed working in TV and commercials including Pringles, Quality Street and Eastenders. His first opportunity to really step up in front of the cameras came when he was chosen to be the face of a new music and entertainment show Just Fabulous TV which although the show itself didn’t last long, it was a great place for him to find his feet.
“Just Fabulous TV was an independent TV channel and I was on it for about 2 years. I’d say it was probably my first long term presenting job. I was the face of the channel and had the opportunity to do numerous shows within that channel. If I could compare it to anything at the time they really tried to open the door as a UK BET. There was not much content for black culture so it was definitely something I was really proud of being a part of.”
This was just a taster of things to come for Royston as his journey into the world of show biz entertainment was just beginning. His first major break was in the UK working with pop, R&B and rap sensations Jamelia and Estelle.
“I think one of my biggest breaks when I first started as a dancer that kind of put me on the map was working with Jamelia. I got to work on all her campaigns from ‘Money’ featuring Beenie Man to ‘I Do’ to ‘Superstar’ and then also working with Estelle. I worked with Estelle for a long time working on her ‘1980’ album, working on ‘American Boy’ alongside Kanye West, John Legend and Willi.a.m.”
Royston found himself on a new stellar trajectory over the water to the US performing at concerts and award ceremonies with some of the biggest and most successful pop artists in the music industry and so adding to his growing list of celebrity connections.
“Working with these artists, people were then like ‘oh, he’s around’ and I was with them for the majority of their careers and I still work with some of these artists now. The career blossomed from there and I got the opportunity to work alongside Kelly Rowland and Beyonce and Rihanna. Other names include UK artists Wiley and the Sugarbabes. It goes on and on working on shows like the X Factor, the Brit Awards, and Grammy Awards. It’s been a blessing.”
He was now well and truly amongst pop royalty and had come a long way since the days of watching shows like TOTP with his family at home. Having established himself as a performer and having built up a contact list like a who’s who in the music and entertainment industry Royston realised that here was an opportunity for him to start his own business, along with close friend and fellow Just Fabulous TV presenter Dwayne Nosworthy.
“In terms of the agency myself and Dwayne Nosworthy, we are dance brothers basically if you saw one you saw the other and I had this idea of putting together an agency as over the years I’ve built up such a good contact list and great respect in the industry that people would just call me and ask me if they needed people.I just thought I’d use my connections and my ability to open up that door and give them opportunities to really just put new faces in the industry and on the map and it’s been a seven-year success.”
This brave new venture was a way for him to give back and give other dancers opportunities he himself would have liked to have had and knowing the business as he does and knowing the people that he does open doors for them. He doesn’t just look after the dancers at the agency either he also works with the stylists, the hairdressers and the make-up artists and so can find a whole range of creative talent that production companies, record labels and artists are looking for in one hit.
“I would say the dancers don’t work for us, we work for the dancers. The agencies are good because it gives the talent time to be creative. Obviously in any job you have the admin, you’ve got the paperwork, you’ve got the boring stuff as I like to say and as an agent we can take care of that stuff. With the RnD Creatives rapport we can obviously bring opportunities they might not have. Some dancers they don’t know how to get into a music video, they don’t know the contacts of artists. It is definitely a blessing to have an agent and it is really a blessing for our business and agents to have some great talent because the more great talent you have the more opportunities you can bring to the table.”
The trend for dancing and dance shows on TV is at an all time high with shows like the X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and even Dancing On Ice regularly pulling in high ratings. Music and dance shows have become compulsory viewing for many not just in the UK but also around the world.
“I think dance has got such a huge entertainment factor. Even watching things like The X Factor, which I’m working on, you see how many dancers are in each number, how much they bring to the stage and how much they bring the show alive. I think within the last 10 years dance has been so powerful, I think a couple of years ago we would have never known who a Flawless or Diversity are but now Diversity and Flawless are household names. That’s amazing.”
As a creative on the X Factor he’s very passionate about the process, which he finds very challenging in comparison to running the agency as he says it is hard to explain how things actually get done.
“From a dance perspective and choreography perspective for me creating is more difficult at times and that’s because when I listen to a song I really want to bring the song to life. It’s my responsibility to make that song now become visual and to make that song a story that the artist has in their head and that me and the artist are on the same page. When I say more challenging, it’s more challenging because I’m passionate about creating something. It’s really using emotion, being inspired by other shows and being inspired by other performers.”
His inspirations are varied as he says he draws upon the work of other major artists down the years and how black culture inspires and influences music and dance, which is all quite personal to him.
“I think with any culture I think it is very important for it to be expressed and with Black History month I think it is very, very powerful what that culture is doing. You have music from reggae and dance hall that have always been really powerful, you have top artists at the moment in the UK such as Steflon Don who I have the pleasure of choreographing and she’s really paving the way in the industry. You have such a huge afro beat following at the moment like Davido, Tiwa Savage, WhizKid, F1 and a lot of the artists like Little Mix to MO who are more pop but still gravitate to that sound. Black music is so powerful and so unique everyday you could go on instagram and you could find a new groove coming from the islands or coming from that culture aspect. It’s so powerful and it’s something that needs to be really praised and not just when it is popular.”
He works with top artists all the time and loves the opportunity to break new ground with them working on new creative productions and has lots more in the pipeline that he is looking forward to.
“Currently I’m working with Steflon Don and Ray Blk and I actually have a show with MNEK who I have really enjoyed working with for the last few years. He’s got his new album ‘Language’ cut now and he’s the headline show in London at the Scala. This performance is definitely one for the books because I’m getting him to do something not necessarily seen everyday and I really respect the fact that he’s stepped out of the box and I think a lot of people are like ‘Whoa’ and that’s what I love, I love working with somebody who is not the same, that challenges me and there are so many great artists in the UK coming through right now. I wouldn’t say I have a little wish list and I don’t want to put it out there because I don’t want to jinx myself but we’ve got Rihanna coming back, I can’t wait to try and work with her new project, there are so many UK artists like Ebenezer that I’m working with and Little Mix’s new record coming out soon. So much going on.”
Royston’s advice to any aspiring dancers is to train and when he says train he wants people to train in a range of different disciplines and to not just stick to what you’re comfortable with but to go out and expand your repertoire.
“If you are a ballet dancer don’t just go to ballet classes go to street dance classes, go to a hip hop class, go to a contemporary class, really push your boundaries and if you are a street dancer don’t stay in a class that you can walk in do the choreography look amazing, get a good video on instagram and call yourself a dancer. Really push outside your boundaries. The more versatile you are the better you are as a talent and the more jobs you get to do. There are so many different demographics in the industry that you can work in. You’ve got the TV world, you’ve got the film world, you’ve got music and theatre. There are so many different avenues if you want to be a performer; you’ve got to be open to all of those. So my advice is make sure you are training, make sure you’re taking the right classes that challenge you and make sure you really know who you want to be as an entertainer.”
He talks nostalgically of the days of TOTP and similar music shows like CD:UK as forgotten formats and he says they were great for performers as they were opportunities to perform in front of an audience and also opportunities to meet fellow artists. But times are changing and with the advent of new media platforms and popular talent show formats the music and dance industry’s landscape has changed and Royston is concerned that artists need more of those opportunities gained from live performances.
“Social media is a great platform and if you can’t beat it you’ve got to join it. I love the fact that artists get to express themselves on social media with creating new moves, creating new snippet videos and just putting themselves out there. But you can’t beat live performances, the talent shows are great and you get the greats like Rihanna, Pink and Lady Gaga but there are so many new and up and coming artists that sometimes unfortunately on these big shows you miss that.”
Royston knows a thing or two about live performances and has had the time of his life performing and travelling around the world with many a highlight for his show reel that he fondly recalls.
“One of my highlights was performing at Wembley. I remember being just ‘Wow’ I’ve been here so many times as a spectator to actually be on this stage is amazing. Touring America was amazing, getting to go to Australia and Japan and just getting to be a part of some of the award shows like the MOBOs, the Brits, the Grammy’s things that I would watch as a child to really be a part of those things is just ‘Wow’. Even now I have to pinch myself and go ‘Ok I’ve done that. That’s crazy’. It’s been a blessing because I’ve met some amazing friends from artists to celebrities to dancers, just the whole thing I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
His passion for dance and his enthusiasm for his job are clear and have grown as his career has unfolded and he feels honoured to have met and worked with so many great artists who he continues to work with today.
“Being in the industry for such a long time I have such a great relationship with so many artists. I can call Jamelia, Rita Ora, MNEK, Ray Blk, Stefflon Don the list can go on and they are not just people I work with they are actually friends. They trust me to work with them and all contact me personally, ‘Hey we’re doing this, I want you on board for this or if you can’t do it, can you help us to get the right people to do it’. So to have that respect in the industry is really powerful. I’m very grateful to all the labels and all the directors and artists that have trust in me to be a part of their project.”
Royston’s contact list goes on and on and includes many well-known superstar celebrities as well as some new up and coming stars too breaking right now and he encourages anyone out there with a passion for music and dance to get in touch and find out what he can do for your career.