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Lucky number seven! ‘Be fearless’ say the industry gurus at our Channel 4 showcase

It may be Valentine’s Day but we’re still dreaming about last night’s fabulous Creative Access Showcase, held at Channel 4 HQ for the seventh consecutive year

The event saw industry professionals gather with a full house of over 200 eager young creatives, ready to pick their brains in how to make it in their chosen field. Hosted by comedian Shazia Mirza, we were swept into an evening of laughter, insightfulness and inspiration by our panel of experts.

The new Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Channel 4, Yasir Mirza, welcome us to the building, followed by some tales as life as a comedian by Shazia: ‘I hate the word diversity and inclusion – it’s because I’ve never had it’. Talking about how her background influences her work, Shazia said:

‘When I do gigs my audiences are usually white, middle-class Guardian readers. They never really come to laugh, they come to learn.’

To provide our first words of wisdom; Financial Times Sports Correspondent Murad Ahmed, said that when it comes to finding your feet in such a varied sector of jobs, that ‘you’ve got to build the experience, your passion comes out on what you’ve done’.

On the subject of networking, which many can find daunting, Murad had this to say: ‘Networking is not evil, if you go and meet someone in the industry, there is nothing wrong with asking for their details and following up. Your hit rate will be higher than you think, this is how I ended up at the FT!’ 

Next up was advertising-extraordinaire, Stephanie Nuttu, who is currently Business Director at Creativebrief (anything with ‘Creative’ in the name is a yes from us!) and dropped some insightful commentary on the importance of diversity in the industry…

‘Advertising is the business of selling ideas, and what is key is how we get to the idea. The best ideas are developed from different perspectives. This is why in marketing and advertising we need people from diverse backgrounds.’

She also advised that to succeed in the industry you had to be creative, collaborative, empathetic and a problem solver.

Third to the stage, was the ‘gatekeeper of stories’ Natalie Jerome of Bonnier Books UK. She highlighted the need for BAME characters to be more present in literature, with only 1% of kids books last year featuring a leader from a non-white background and only 4% of publishers actually being BAME. Natalie describes her role as…

‘More than a job, it’s a passion. I help people to tell stories. Stories and storytelling is the most important cultural capital we have.’ 

As a diverse group of people bought together for a shared love for the arts, Battersea Art Centre’s Artistic Director, Tarek Iskander reminded us that there’s strength in numbers and to ‘use the strength and power of people around you. You can change the world and can best change it by doing it together.’ Tarek spoke of his journey into the world of theatre, via a ten year stint in the NHS and of coping with being a naturally shy person.

Like Tarek, none of the other panellists had a straight route navigating the windy road of creative careers. Current Managing Director of ITV Entertainment, Angela Jain developed a maxim for her career – ‘if I don’t like it, I’ll go back and try something else.’ She reassured the audience that now is a good time to pursue a career in television; ‘There’s a huge skills gap in TV. There is more work than people to do it.’

Our final panellist Nicole Logan, Station Manager at Transmission Roundhouse and former Creative Access intern at the Ambassadors Theatre Group, followed with a similar sentiment, stating that in her career she ‘bounced around until something stuck, something that I liked’. For her, Creative Access was ‘so integral’ and give her one of her first paid internships in the industry, having worked unpaid at TV and theatre companies for two years.

Nicole ended with an empowering quote that ‘life isn’t what you get, it’s what you negotiate.’  

The themes of this year’s Showcase were teamwork, networking and perseverance with Angela drawing on the quote ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and this is certainly true for more than just TV!

The evening was rounded off with some exciting news from Creative Access CEO, Josie Dobrin that Creative Access has placed 1,000 interns in its seven years of existence. We’re sure this year will be filled with many more successes, more employer partners, and more motivating masterclasses! The panel, industry professionals, CA Team and guests were then able to chat with a drink in hand at the wonderful venue provided by Channel 4.

Thanks again for our panel of talented speakers for sharing their stories, knowledge, and advice, along with Channel 4 for hosting and our sponsors at ITV for helping us continue the good work!

  • Yazir Mirza, Head of Inclusion & Diversity, Channel 4
  • Shazia Mirza, Comedian
  • Murad Ahmed, Sports Correspondent, The Financial Times
  • Stephanie Nattu, Business Director, Creativebrief
  • Tarek Iskander, Interim Director for Theatre, Arts Council England
  • Natalie Jerome, Acquisitions Director & Publisher, Bonnier Books UK
  • Angela Jain, Managing Director, ITV Studios Entertainment
  • Nicole Logan, Station Manager, Transmission Radio