I was born and raised in Harrow, North West London to Irish parents who had immigrated to London to make better lives for themselves, having both come from extremely large families.
They met in Kilburn which has London's highest Irish population, as well as a sizeable Afro-Caribbean population. Mum was a Nurse and Dad was away in the Navy on ships. They both worked so many hours like our lives depended on it.
I would hang out with friends and neighbors and we were lucky to have a lot of black and mixed-race friends. It felt like a great community full of laughter, music, dancing and food. One of my first girlfriends had an African name and I remember people taking the piss out of it. I wish I had stood up to this kind of behavior more.
Going out with her gave me an insight into how much harder it was to get into the media for POC. We were both aspiring to get into the business and when I finally broke into TV I felt like an outsider. Not only did I feel like I shouldn’t be there, but I couldn’t see any of my working class and POC friends anywhere.
This sadly would become the normal situation for production companies, broadcasters and on set, where there were sometimes only one but usually zero POC. I’m ashamed to say I accepted this without question.
With nepotism rife in the industry and an unrealistic barrier of entry in the form of degree for runner positions, it was near impossible for POC to break into the TV industry. I moved into the music and youth television space and began to see how talented black people and POC were pigeon holed, labelled and given smaller roles in front of and behind the camera.
We accepted that being black in the UK was to be marginalized by the mainstream. But how could this be happening when Black people were contributing so much culturally and beyond? I remember pitching an idea to a white middle-aged TV commissioner who asked me what grime music was when it was at its peak. Now droves of young people have deserted the BBC in favor of less condescending platforms.
In 2017 I relocated to New York and have since moved to LA. I’ve spoken to my black friends who live in the US and there really are so many more opportunities. Black companies, actors and musicians have achieved mainstream success in the US, with them, speaking out publicly about the lack of opportunities in the UK.
The US is not without it’s problems but it’s inspiring to be working with many more black people and POC who hold senior positions in the entertainment industry. My aim is to help create change by inspiring young people through mentorship to pursue their dreams in the TV and entertainment industry so we can see true representation.
‘Our Revolution’ started off as a lockdown project, shooting eerily empty landmarks and scenes in LA, became something completely different, something much more important. As the media move away from covering these stories to focus on politics, there is still much work to be done and justice to be served. We the people must continue to fight the systemic and pervasive nature of racism worldwide.