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CA: The BAME Fairy Godmother

I’ll start with the raw truth: This blog entry was hard. And late.

I’m talking next level ‘has-it-really-been-nearly-a-year-since-I-promised-to-write-this?’ late.

I’m starting with this, not because there’s nothing to say about my journey with CA. I kept putting it off because I found it difficult to start with just one thing, because

I’m almost overwhelmed by the deep love and respect I feel when I think about the important work that CA does and how it’s benefitted me.

How about I take a crack at it, anyway?

Before graduating from Scriptwriting at Bournemouth University, I had just completed my first Edinburgh Fringe show (that classic unsustainable model of being the co-writer, director, actor, producer and press rep all at once) and it dawned on me – inevitably — that no one ever tells you just how elitist those spaces are until you try breaking into them without connections, money, power, agency or blind luck. It’s funny to look back on my old optimism (putting it down to youth and the misguided belief that £1 Jager bombs were eternal). But I left with the bittersweet feeling of success at having completed a Fringe run, serious anxiety at the amount of debt I’d racked up, and exhausted like I’d never been before. Was it worth it? For the handful of reviews? For the ‘experience’? For the additional worry of having less (read: zero) disposable income as I prepared to leave full-time education? And then there was that tiny little structural bias thing I was aware I’d have to face in full force once I left the (relative) safety of university and dived into optimum ‘adulting’.

No reader, this was not something even special £1 uni Jager bombs could fix.

So, what were my options? I knew I wanted to work in theatre. I knew it spoke to my soul, and that was the medium I wanted to tell stories through.

And then, like a fairy godmother: ENTER CA.

After entering a general search for ‘companies that won’t make my soul weep’ (or something a tad more realistic) and applying for one that fit the bill, I got some pointers from CA which helped me feel confident enough to not bail on the interview. Good thing too, as I got the job and uprooted my entire life as a result! (Big ups Paines Plough for not ‘making my soul weep’). I didn’t initially understand how CA fit into this, then I realised: CA actually is the fairy godmother to young BAME people with no previous chance of being let through the velvet ropes of the creative industries.

Both measured yet radical, understanding yet unapologetic, they literally exist to do everything in their power to hold open that first door for us, wait for us to walk through it, then watch us with a smile as we kick all the other doors down and bring our friends along.

In the words of Beyoncé, now ain’t that about a bitch?

The most radical thing for me was feeling like CA was (and still is) leading the thinking around representation in the arts. Highlighting the issues with that old box ticking method of ‘diversity’ which is (frankly) gross; and showing that there are countless young black and brown people who are talented, relentless, inspiring, future leaders, and all we need is someone to bet on us, to light the fuse.

That fuse for me started by learning the ropes at Paines Plough through Creative Access. I then got involved with grassroots groups and started to organise political events alongside artistic events, which led me to becoming the Communications Manager at Free Word. And exploring the power and politics of words has led me full circle, back to my first love – writing. As a result, I’ve recently been shortlisted for the Royal Court/Kudos TV Fellowship, the BBC Writersroom: Drama, Papatango Playwriting Award and I’m excited to begin my journey as one of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers, as well as Theatre503’s 503Five. Onwards and upwards.

Thank you, CA, for lighting the fuse.

Long may you reign.