When Anna Emm** studied primary school education at the Boland College in Wellington she had no idea where this road would eventually take her. As a young teacher with dreams of changing the world, she was employed at a school with children from poor, disadvantaged areas. She soon discovered that teaching kids maths and science when they are hungry, traumatised, and broken, is a wasted effort. After one of her grade 2 girls were molested, and another girl's father was killed in a domestic fight, Anna turned to her love for stories to sooth and distract the children. She started reading a story to the children after every lesson, and they soon worked their way through the small school library, reading everything from Dr Suess to Roald Dahl! When she ran out of books, she started writing her own stories, making the children in her class characters in their own adventures. The effect that these stories had on the children was profound. It not only calmed them, but fed their creativity and self confidence. Even the weakest students started to draw beautiful pictures, write their own stories, and join in group discussions with excitement and imagination! They were happier, more alert, and started improving in all their other subjects. It was then that Anna started to do research about using stories as therapy, and soon she knew her dream to change the world can be achieved through the telling of stories.
In 2001 she quit her job as primary school teacher. In 2003 she landed a job as writer and director on the sets of two small television series', and gained some very valuable production experience. In 2004 she wrote and directed her debut theatre production, "The Rag Doll", as a personal statement and introduction to the entertainment industry. "The Rag Doll" saw the launch of her production company, Anna Emm Productions, in 2004, as Anna stepped out into tough world of multimedia productions with a big dream: to change the world one story at a time! She has never looked back.
Since then Anna Emm Productions has created, produced and distributed more than 1 000 original children's stories on CD and DVD, 15 children's theatre productions, as well as 5 stage productions and more than 40 audio story shorts for grownups. We have also produced 3 full length adventure audio books for older children and a 3D animation episode of "Avonture in Wimpelpimpelland". In 2009 we submitted a pilot episode for prime time drama for MNET, which made it to the top 6 out of more than 250 entries.
All these stories were written by Anna Emm.
** Anna lives in Cape Town. She is married to musician and 3D-animator, Stefan van der Vyver, and mother to two girls, Elanie (13) and Mila (2).