From a childhood spent in a refugee camp to red carpet premieres, John K-ay’s life is a rags to riches tale to rival any blockbuster.
The Blacktown filmmaker, born John Ndaishimiye, is less interested in his own story though than he is in creating new ones.
Mr K-ay was just three years old when civil war forced him to flee Burundi for a refugee camp in Tanzania.
He spent the next 11 years of his life there before his family successfully applied to resettle in Australia.
“In the refugee camp we couldn’t do anything. All we could do was go to school, study and come back home, you couldn’t go to university or anything like that,” Mr K-ay said.
“I’ve always wanted to act, I’ve always wanted to make films. When I got to Australia and got opportunities to do what I want, I started doing it.”
The entertainer arrived in Perth in 2008, and soon turned his attention to rapping and movies.
At 24, he is now a real estate agent in Bella Vista but his creative projects retain his passion.
Mr K-ay has four feature films under his belt and a fifth on the way – but his latest project is non-fiction.
What’s Your Story is a 10-part series showcasing success stories of migrants in the Blacktown area.
“Some of the media, they don’t show Blacktown as a positive place to live and they don’t show migrants as if they are beneficial to society,” he said.
“That’s the sort of thing we want to shine a light on. To show people that in Blacktown we have successful people, we have migrants working very hard, we have migrants achieving a lot of things.
“I’ve moved houses twice but I’ve always stayed in Blacktown. That’s how much I love it.”
Arsalan Masood is one migrant who will be sharing his story.
After working with the United Nations in his home country of Pakistan, and doing his masters degree in aid management at the University of Birmingham, Mr Masood moved to Mount Druitt three months ago.
“I heard a lot of stories about the Blacktown area, the Mount Druitt area,” he said. “But within the last three months I have not seen any criminal activity, any drugs, anything you wouldn’t see in other parts of Sydney.
“Communities in the Blacktown area are more multicultural. They help each other a lot. There are a lot of community-based organisations working and supporting each other.”
Mr Masood has been volunteering at Mount Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency (MECA) while looking for work in his field.
MECA and Blacktown City Council are supporting John K-ay with his latest project. Weekly instalments are due to start screening online next month.