AYRIES “RAY” SHELL is a film, TV and stage actor, as well as an author, director and producer. He has been a fixture in London’s West End since he arrived in the UK in 1978. In 2018 Ray toured the UK as Emil Foley, the drill sergeant in the acclaimed Curve production of An Officer and a Gentlemen directed by Nikolai Foster. In 2017, he performed in the Kennedy Center commission for actors and jazz ensemble Bud, Not Buddy, directed by Clarke Peters (The Wire; Da 5 Bloods)
His performance theatre credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Little Willie Jr.’s Resurrection, Miss Saigon, King, Children of Eden, 125th Street, Dancin’ in the Street, Gone with the Wind, Disney’s The Lion King, The Dirtiest Musical, The Me Nobody Knows, Hair, Dementos, Radio Golf (Tricycle Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Holland Park), Happy End (Nottingham Playhouse), Blues for Mr. Charlie (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Golden Boy (Greenwich Theatre), Vernon God Little and Been So Long (Young Vic), and as Rusty in the original West End production of Starlight Express, as well as the original West End production of The Bodyguard. Ray recently appeared in the west coast premiere of the Broadway hit, TONI STONE, directed by Tony Award-winning director Pam Mackinnon.
In 2012, Ray directed the British premiere of the musical A Dream Across the Ocean and, in 2017, Gilgamesh at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington, London. In the last few years, he has also directed Death of a Salesman for the Wilson Playhouse, Crown at the Booker T. Washington Theatre in Rocky Mount, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Barton College, Wilson NC, TAIP Lab Scratch Night Series in Wilson and Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story at Big Harold’s Diner also in Wilson. Ray’s theatrical directorial credits include White Folks (Cochrane Theatre, Pleasance Theatre), Flatshare, Frederick Avery Visits, Street Angels, The Black Fashion Designers Show (The Royal Albert Hall), The Mango Lick Poetry Jam (Royal Festival Hall), A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, The Tulip Wars and Street Dance Musical (Camden Fringe Festival). Television and film projects include the cult hit film The Apple, Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebel’s, Velvet Goldmine and the hit Belgian television series Monster Trilogy. Ray is currently developing a new UK stage version of ICED: BLACK THOUGHTS IN AN EARLY MOON.
Ray’s acclaimed debut novel “Iced” was published by Random House/Penguin Books and toured internationally. He has also published articles and short stories for, among others, the New York Times, The Guardian, as well as Serpent’s Tail and Penguin publishing houses. His online publishing company, Street Angels Books, has published “Spike Lee: The Eternal Maverick” The 30th-anniversary edition of “Iced” will be published, March 14, 2023 on Street Angels Books. Producer and director Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) has bought the film rights to “Iced.” The screenplay was written by Oscar® nominated Menno Meyjes (Indiana Jones, The Color Purple). Ray sold the film rights to his current novel “Carolina Red”, also published by Street Angels Books, to UK production company Sugar Films. Street Angels books first book of 2022, LIKE…HEARING CHAKA KHAN FOR THE FIRST TIME by David Nathan is #1 AMAZON BESTSELLER in 2 genres! Ray is currently developing STAR BOY, a 50’s rock-n-roll, blues musical about a travelling gospel family for global streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu.
Ray has performed his acclaimed cabaret show Black2Black at the Pheasantry and Crazy Coques in London, performed in the Inner-City Reunion Concert at 54 Below in New York City and his new show Phoenix at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. He has recorded, sang with, arranged and trained such musical stars as Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Damage, Grace Jones, Caron Wheeler (Soul II Soul), Victoria Wilson James (Shamen, Soul II Soul), Sophie Dahl, Pete Burns, Howard Devoto (Magazine), Sia, Marsha Ambrosius and X-Factor star Jahmene Douglas. Ray was a coach on BBC1’s The Voice in 2013 and is the producer/writer for TribeWilson and UK pop artist NIA.