I studied at the University of Lincoln. I studied Media, Culture and Communication. That experience for me was really eye opening. It completely opened my world up in ways that I just wouldn't have had access to.
One of the reasons for choosing the course at Lincoln I'll never forget is looking at the list of jobs that you could get after you graduated. The list for Media, Culture and Communication just stretched so far and wide, in so many different areas, that I realised that there were lots of different jobs that I could take on. There were five or six that leapt out at me and made me think I could do this course.
Learning skills and knowledge for the future
I absolutely loved that my course was a mixture of understanding people, understanding why society shifts in the way that it does, and the theory of media, culture and communications. I found that so interesting. That understanding of how culture and society works opened up the work that I do now around equality, diversity, and inclusion.
The practical side of it was making things like the vlogs, and podcasts and all of these things. We learnt coding and other skills. At the time we thought ‘why are they getting us to make all of this stuff?’ But naturally as lecturers, they obviously knew about trends and predicted things that would happen. We were like, ‘no, none of this will actually take off’ and then fast forward to 2021, then everyone wants to be a YouTuber or be famous on TikTok or whatever.
What I was trying to do was to move to London straight off from graduating. Sadly, my Mum got really sick so it meant I had to go back to Norfolk to look after her and just get any job. The job I got was at Volkswagen and I became a customer service advisor. A lot of the socialisation, the cultural side of things that I learnt on my university course, propelled me into being the customer service advisor of the year. It opened up lots of different avenues in that respect.
Giving you confidence in who you’re becoming
When it came to it, when I got down to the nitty gritty, the work wasn't fulfilling my soul and my life purpose. So I decided that I would quit that job and move to London. I knew that it was about immersing myself and biting the bullet, and I really don't think I would have had that confidence without what I learned at university.
I love meeting people, but to literally take yourself from one environment that is very comfortable and propel yourself into another is very different. Without having had the university experience – you know that whole freshers year where you have to really put yourself out there – I'm not sure I would have done the biting of the bullet and jacking in the job. There's something to be said for university shaping you and giving you confidence in who you're becoming.
It's not just about the course and the work. Yeah, that's really, really important, but I would almost say that it's the life skills that equip you for the future because within education up to that point, we're not equipped with them.
What funding creates is access, and it puts everybody on an equal playing field
There has been like no period of time since I can remember, even from a very young age, where I haven't had to have a job. Whether it paid me a couple of quid an hour, whether it paid me ten-pounds an hour, whether it paid me a day rate, there has never been a time where I've not worked from the age that I was able to even illegally.
I wasn’t born into a situation where my Mum and Dad were executives of a label or had worked in music for a good twenty years, I didn’t have that opportunity. When it came to potentially doing work placements, I would never have been able to have done one because I didn't have the funding to fund my life, pay my rent, do all of those other things.
If I didn't have a practical knowledge base from my university course covering how to make contacts and how the industry works, I probably wouldn't have been able to achieve what I've been able to achieve.
Now I am an artist manager to Ellie Prohan, who is a Persian LGBTQI+ DJ who's on Kiss FM and Apple Music. It’s just me and her as an independent team, and what we've been able to achieve together in the last three years has been pretty damn incredible.
I sit as the UK Music Futures group chair and the representative of the group to the UK Music Board. I'm on the Equality and Justice Advisory Group at the BPI. I also have a community that I founded called Freelance Queens, which is for freelance female identifying creatives ranging from a graphic designer through to a hair stylist through to a creative life coach and beyond. I’m also a member of shesaid.so.
It should be an ecosystem set up for all
Things are shifting within culture at the minute. We’ve seen a complete surge in the Black Lives Matter movement and it’s been a really progressive moment.
If we reduce funding for courses and opportunities for people who have different backgrounds, sexual orientations, identities, and more, we will start to revert back to where we are have been so fighting to get away from. And I don't think we'll end up with a harmonious music industry that looks like society, it will be the same looking people that have been dominating the industry for years and years and years. It’s like a whole industry kind of going back in on itself.
I think there is a majority of creative students that come from different backgrounds. And sadly, without this funding, those students won’t have the same opportunities to move forward and to progress. It doesn't diminish the fact that they're absolutely brilliant. But unfortunately, similarly to myself, they don't have that access through economic wealth. It should be an ecosystem that's kind of set up for all.