At the age of 21, Russell won the prestigious Nelson Mandela Artists Award for his contributions to theatre in South Africa.
Russell went on to produce and direct numerous stage shows and corporate videos throughout Southern Africa.
A year later he was hired to work with producer Lloyd Phillips and director Martin Campbell on BEYOND BORDERS starring Angelina Jolie, casting, briefing and setting up the coordination of locally cast featured actors. Russell went on to work in over 9 countries around the world, and was soon working alongside talents like director John Boorman, with whom he cast the Samuel L. Jackson/ Juliette Binoche film COUNTRY OF MY SKULL (IN MY COUNTRY), and Eric Valli, winner of the Academy Award for best foreign film HIMALAYA in 1999. Russell decided to move to Los Angeles in early 2005.