The life and times of Nuria Yeste Serrano, duty manager at the Everyman Cinema on Baker Street
Interview: Jean-Paul Aubin-Parvu
Portrait: Orlando Gili
I’m from a small town just outside Valencia on Spain’s east coast. I’m not really a beach person, though, because I don’t like the sun all that much—which is quite weird for somebody from Valencia. I had quite a regular childhood, I suppose, living with my parents and my sister. I went to the local high school with all my friends, and even while studying at the University of Valencia I continued to live in my home town.
I have always been into writing. When we’d write short stories at school, mine would always be the longest, and from the age of around 14, I started writing more and more, just about my thoughts and my feelings. As a teenager you’re always just a little confused, and writing was a way to get down what was in my head. I then also started writing fictional short stories. My love of films and cinema began at around the same time, not only the regular mainstream movies that everybody goes to see, but more the indie films. Tim Burton was my favourite director back then.
I studied journalism at university. My course wasn’t that well organised and you didn’t get to specialise in your particular interests, so I was kind of disappointed. After I finished my degree, there was little hope of a job. The only offer I received at first was from a local network of blogs, who expected me to work for free. I said no. I think that everybody who does a job should be paid for it— if I’m going to do the work then you need to pay me. Eventually I did find some work for a local newspaper, but it paid almost nothing and wasn’t very exciting. I left after six months.
The situation in Spain is terrible for young people. There are no jobs for us, so many young people are just running away. We don’t feel we have a future there. My boyfriend and I decided to move to London with two friends from university. We arrived three and a half years ago. I spent my first year working at McDonald’s, which was like being in hell, but I was then lucky enough to get a job at the Everyman Cinema on Baker Street. Working here, every day would be different. I could be making drinks behind the bar, working on the tills or serving food from the kitchen. I loved it.
I became a duty manager at the end of October. I have to take care of the customers and the staff. Everything needs to run smoothly so that the customers are happy. The most important thing is that visitors enjoy the experience and are made to feel at home.
Everyman cinemas are special. I have always preferred going to smaller cinemas. There’s something intimate about watching a film and I think the best way to see a film and build a relationship with it is in a smaller cinema—it’s much more personal. Everyman is that kind of cinema. We have just two screens here at Baker Street, with 58 and 60 seats, and that allows us to have personal contact with each customer.
Feels like home
Whenever my friends from Spain visit me in London I always bring them here. And they are just like: “Wow! This place is amazing. I wish we had had this kind of cinema in Spain.” Whenever I watch a film here it feels like being at home, because you are on a comfortable seat and you can have a drink and some food—but actually it’s so much better because obviously the screen is bigger than the one you have at home!
I love working here, just being part of this experience. All the staff are lovely—they come from different backgrounds but everybody is really creative: writers, actors, musicians. We are all really interested in film, and it’s really nice to be with people who enjoy their work. For all of us, having the opportunity to watch the films is fantastic.
I also live in the area, very close to Regent’s Park, just a short walk from work. My boyfriend and I go to Camden quite often; it’s just a 20 minute walk up through the park, and we also love walking around Marylebone.
A crazy city
London is a crazy city, so you are always busy doing something. I love how you can meet people from all over the world. Walking down the street and seeing people from everywhere is just brilliant. In London you have the world in your hands: all the people who live here, the people who come to perform here, and all the cultural events that happen. Even travelling to other parts of the world is easier from London. Apart from my family and friends, the only thing I miss about Spain is the food. The food in Spain is really good.
I would like to do more writing in the future, but right now I’m just trying to live my life, living for the moment. And then let’s see what the future brings, what opportunities come and how life goes. But at least I’m doing something now. I’m working and enjoying many different things—just living an adventure.