The Indian Font

Shruti Barton MA Creative Economy

Access All Areas: SEO London Creative Access

On the evening of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral I was lucky to attend the Channel 4 Creative Access Reception by Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a charity that helps black and other ethnic minorities (BME’s) to secure top graduate positions across a variety of industries.  On this occasion, the event was intended to help us BME’s learn more about the career path available in the creative industries, to include  television, theatre, music and journalism.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issue in principle, with pulling the race card. For all font enthusiasts out there, you may have gathered that my cyber avatar, the Indian Font is a synonym  for my real name – not only will you find Shruti in your Microsoft Word drop-down options alongside Arial and Calibri, it is also a Hindu scripture. So you see this is, literally speaking, the only extent to which I have previously used my country of origin for marketing and self-promotion purposes. Never, as an Asian, have I attended a corporate event in the UK where I was the majority, surrounded by fellow fonts of an Asian and African kind.

Panel hot seats at Channel 4

Panel hot seats at Channel 4

So, returning to funeral day, there was understandably an eery silence in W1 as I walked to Channel 4 HQ. The mood soon lifted as comedian Paul Chowdhury began to compere with his slightly contentious Jamaican, Sikh, Nigerian and even Jewish (?) jokes. What followed was a very inspiring line up of speakers from across the creative industries, all passionate about one thing: HIRING MORE ETHNICALLY DIVERSE TALENT. In keeping with my initial aim of providing industry advice via experts, here’s a brief overview of what the speakers had to say:

Tabitha Jackson, Commissioning Editor for the Arts, Channel 4

  • Think about what gets you up in the morning.
  •  It ‘s all about a sense of taste. Have taste.
  • Be nice.
  • Be lucky and sieze any opportunities which are presented to you.
  • Channel 4 is recruiting 2 interns (in case any of you fancied applying).

Saurabh Kakker, Executive Producer, BBC Comedy

  • It “pisses him off” that the number of Black and Asian job applicants for his team have been pitifully low.

EJ Trivett, Co-Director of Projects, Almeida Theatre

  • Says there is a lack of diversity and that “we are shit at it”.
  • If you are finishing a Marketing Degree from Kingston University, i quote “WE NEED YOU” Another application for you to make if you so fancy!

Natalie Jerome, Publishing Director, Harper Collins Publishers

  •  Says it’s all about having ideas and bringing them to life using storytelling in culture.

Genevieve Ampaduh, Head of Digital Marketing, Syco 

  • More people watch YouTube than MTV nowadays.
  • Genevieve never thinks about her colour and advises that we just be the best, get noticed and not waste our talents.
  • Genevieve is so passionate about digital media “if you cut me I would bleed digital”.
  • There’s no money in the music industry.

Parminder Vir OBE, Director of PVL Media

  •  A lady after my own heart , passionate about mixing creativity with business.
  • Says we have to create our own jobs.
  • Like Natalie, she also says it ‘s about having ideas and selling them
  • Think of our skill set as being transferable

Murad Ahmed, Tech Reporter, Times UK

  • Says most people in newspapers are white, middle aged,  private school guys.
  • Newspapers are crying out for “people like us”.

Michael Foster, Co-Managing Director, The Rights House and Celebrity Agent

Remember the Jewish joke I mentioned earlier? Michael Foster is the brainchild of Creative Access and aims to plug in 750 of us BME’s into the creative industries within the next 3 years. His words of advice concluded the event:

  • Be nice.
  • Know what you are doing.
  • Remember where you came from.
  • Hire people you trust, know and like.

It was then that 250 intern wannabes clambered onto the stage and crowded around the speakers armed with CV’s, questions and one-liner elevator pitches about themselves. One guy even bagged an internship with Michael Foster during question time.  As for me, I left the event happy in the knowledge that ideas will count for something and that when you get to the top it’s ok to use expletives to get your point across. Until then it’s donations in the swear box for me.


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