When I go into a production office or when I look at the staff page of production companies I am constantly dismayed to see the lack of diversity, writes Petal Felix. Some seem to be entirely staffed by white people and that feels quite off-putting to see nobody who looks like me. If women are under represented in the media, then that is an even greater problem for black women.
When there was such a furore about the gender paygap I read with interest the features in the newspapers but, the reality for many like me, is if we can’t even get through the front door it is immaterial what the pay is.
There is a very clear cultural disconnect between the people who make TV programmes and the millions who watch them. Creativity needs diversity in thinking and for that to manifest onto the screen you need a diverse workforce, which I just don’t see at the moment.
After several years out I have decided its time to go back to doing the thing I trained to do and the job I loved - TV production. Most of my working life has been spent as a journalist, first in radio and then TV making films for the BBC and independents. But I haven’t worked in TV for ten years, and although the experience can’t be taken away, aspects of production have changed. Although I am happy to upskill I already feel at a disadvantage
A friend said I must join Media Parents. So I go to the Media Parents ‘Back to Work’ drinks, which is initially daunting but turns out to be hugely enjoyable and gives me a boost. Meeting people who are in the same boat as me, having taken time out for family, albeit most have young children where I am at the other end, having just seen the last child off to college.
There’s another chance to network, a Media Parents CV event, hosted by Shiver and there are a number of other production companies represented there. I talk to the companies I think best suit my interests and skills and the following day email the contacts I made. I have been given good advice on how to rework my CV and also been told I have good experience and my training as a Journalist should stand me in good stead.
Still, getting my CV ready to send out, it looks woefully inadequate compared to the many I see with very recent TV credits. It does feel good networking, entirely different to years back when I would avoid any work-related social event. Now I am much more confident and also eager to speak with others going through the same experience.
I have started emailing production companies and meet with Heads of Production, Creative Directors and Talent Executives. All seem interested in my experience and are generous with their time, but there is still a slight nagging feeling, which I am constantly battling with.
Eventually, after meeting with the Managing Director and Creative Director of Factory Films in Brighton I go in, initially for two weeks unpaid work. I am given several programmes to work on for the BBC and Channel 4, short films and documentaries. I love it and it reminds me I can do this. It’s the week before Christmas and they ask me to stay on for another weeks paid work. I am ecstatic, and its not about the money.
So here we are in January. I am applying for jobs and I don’t mind taking a job below my Producer scale but I also know I’m more likely to be successful if I can get across the threshold and meet people face to face. I have great skills and experience and am always full of ideas so I hope TV can deliver for me.