It's time to let young people speak up for themselves
“It’s imperative to let young people speak up for themselves.”
On Monday 19 February I had the great pleasure of sitting on a panel for the Uprising: Media Matters Event at BBC Birmingham, The Mailbox.
I wish I took more photo’s and video’s but truth is I’ve run out of storage and my phone is a Samsung 6 that DESPERATELY needs upgrading.
Aliyah Holder, Writer, Curator and Producer
Oli Hills, CEO of Birmingham Updates
Anna Jeys, Editor of Birmingham Live
David Jennings, Head of Regional and Local Programmes, BBC West Midlands
The event was another great example of listening to young people and I was reminded by one young lady who passionately stated:
“Are you really aware of the responsibility you have as people who work in the media? – Your content is like a parent and young people are your children who seek your guidance.”
Well to answer that question…I am VERY aware, and as I told every young person sitting in that room, there is not a single day that I take my position in media for granted, yes, there are times when I become incredibly frustrated and fed up with media politics, unconscious bias, lack of representation, discrimination and every other ION I come across in the industry, but truth is, this is not just my job, IT IS MY ASSIGNMENT. I am assigned to be the voice of young people in the media, to speak up for those groups who feel overlooked, overshadowed, misrepresented, marginalised and misunderstood. I am here to help change the media culture as well as challenge the single, stereotypical narratives that demonise people and feed the ignorance and naivety of societies pre conceived ideas regarding people who are do not conform to their social norms. However, I also reminded these young people, that as much as I have a responsibility to them, they also have a responsibility to themselves and their peers. So I left them with the following advice that my great mentor, Bishop Wayne Malcolm once told me:
Sounds simple enough, but let me unpack this even further.
No one is simply just entitled to success and likability. A lot of the media culture is about building strategic relationships with key people who can help you and open doors of destiny (opportunities, employability, recommendations). Your reputation and credibility is just as influential as your skills and experience in how people see you. Be smart about how you conduct yourself, be manner able, have decorum, learn the language and lingo of the industry, it’s not about speaking to everyone but the right people. Attend events where you can network, it’s not good enough to just drop an email or slide in people’s DMs. SHOW UP! Let people see your face, see that you are real and serious about your work. SHOW UP PREPARED! Yes, it can be daunting talking to people and awkwardly introducing yourself, but get used to it, even if you have to practice your what I call ‘elevator pitch’ in the mirror several times until you feel confident, DO IT, NAIL IT AND GO FOR IT! Remember, it’s a lot easier for producers to ignore your email, but a lot harder when you come face to face. SHOW UP!
There’s a lot of noise currently in the media, especially with everyone having an opinion on social media, but take the time to really think about your voice and what you have to say that’s different, unique, purposeful or bringing a fresh perspective to the table. Don’t be afraid if it’s not what everyone’s used to hearing, the more out of the box it feels is the more likely people are going to pay attention and whether they agree or not, stand for what you believe in and strive to get your message heard. Never let anyone make you feel that you need to be silent, there maybe someone counting on you to make the noise that they didn’t feel confident to do for themselves.
This media industry is SATURATED baby! It is vital you stand out, but authentically. There’s no point trying to be something you’re not for likes and views, people buy people, not pretence. Standing out requires knowing who you are and being incredibly thick skinned and unapologetic about it. I stand out because I love colour, I wear colour and I practically live it. As much as I’ve had people in the media who say how amazing I look, there are others who have told me to tone it down. However, I’m telling you to TONE ALL THE WAY OUT! Not literally in your wardrobe, but in your creativity. Take bold risks, have a standard of excellence and quality, think about what’s not being done and don’t be afraid to show it, think about the people who are not being heard and give a voice to them, and stop RUSHING. There’s a time for quick turn around content and there’s a time to really work on something to get it right. Creativity is a process and not everything needs to be chucked out there with no heart or thought. The only person you are in competition with is yourself, so take the time to learn your industry, study the work of the greats who have come before you and don’t be afraid to CHANGE THE GAME.
To whoever got this far, thank you and I appreciate you.
Tee Cee x