Tribute to Gemma Head 1974-2018
My gorgeous, talented friend, the amazing Gemma Head, has died. She had secondary breast cancer and was just 44 years old.
Gemma was a complete one-off. Smart, funny, kick-ass, hugely talented and an all-round brilliant gem! A very dear friend of mine, we met on the West Yorkshire Playhouse's "SoYouWantToBeAWriter" scheme in 2008, quickly establishing a shared sense of humour, although I soon discovered that Gemma's went much darker than my own!
The biggest advice to scriptwriters is to get your work out there, don't wait for the opportunity to come to you. Gemma certainly put herself out there, something I really admired her for. So determined to succeed as a writer, she actually kept my dream alive too. I used to say that she had balls and complain that I didn't, and she'd reply, 'Well you just have to grow some, June!'
Her writing was black, edgy and brilliantly observed.
She'd usually cast herself in her own plays but she also got TV work (Emmerdale), and her distinctive white hair landed her the role of Myra Hindley in a True North Production. This clearly appealed to Gemma's dark side! Other credits include a short film for Film4, and she got lots of theatre parts too. She formed her own theatre company, WhiteFace Theatre, touring her own plays Dial; Terminal; Dead Man's Shoes.
Knowing how ill she was, Gemma got married this summer on stage at the iconic Leeds City Varieties. This was her last performance and, as she put it, the most important one of her life, marrying Paul, her leading man and father to their four year old son, Laurie.
Lately she'd been doing stand-up and intended doing more of this. In fact her career was just beginning to take off. The Leeds Playhouse was finally taking notice of Gemma Head, developing her one-woman show Whitelash through their Furnace scheme. And she co-wrote the screenplay Polterheist, which is getting rave reviews and has already won Film Festival awards. (Gemma has a cameo role in it too!).
She'd been nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
In the summer, Gemma was on the red carpet at the Leicester Square premiere of Polterheist, looking radiant and happy.
She'd made it!
So farewell to our Gemma. Loved by everyone who was lucky enough to know her. A real star, who will continue to shine. Especially in my heart xxxxxx
Here is the trailer for the film: Polterheist.