I recently attended the BBC Creative Diversity Network. The event was anchored by BBC News presenter Jane Hill, and hosted at The Hackney Empire. Many accolades were accredited to Hackney, holding the area dear, for its creative hub and diverseness. The first to pay homage was an emotional Zawe Ashton ‘Fresh meat actress’ who won the nomination for ‘best breakthrough on screen talent’.
This was a joyful event, but also one of appreciation. Many of the award presenters; Lenny Henry, Doreen Lawrence, Professor Mary Beard, to name a few; and the awardees appreciated the fact that the no less deserved diverse were being recognised for their efforts in their creation for the wonderful medium of TV.
Another sense of appreciation came from mentees who had been given access to a once foreign terrain. It was a real tear jerker to watch a young mentee, alongside her mentor, receive an award for ‘Best news coverage’, for a piece she had produced using her own experience and insight into life as a homeless teenager in London.
It may have been a long time coming but the BBC should be proud of what it has accomplished with this event. It was about as diverse as diverse gets. Some of the subject matters of programmes which made it through to the nominations* included, disability, drug addiction, treatment of the elderly. Other nominations recognised diverse initiatives run by partners of the CDN which enabled people from a diverse background to be part of a creative production.
The award giving ceremony ended on a high. The outstanding achievement award was presented to channel four for their fantastic coverage of the Paralympic games.
The evening did not end there; the attendees were invited to the adjoining diner for hot canapés and cold beverages. This was an opportunity to network with, mostly BBC staff, but also diverse presenters and actors. Actors from Coronation street, Emerdale, I’ve already mentioned ‘Fresh meat’, and Eastenders supported the event.
I met and got speaking to Michelle, a lady working in marketing and PR. She informed me that she is working on the webisode ‘The Brothers’. I was not aware how huge a success it had been. I found this very encouraging. As a screen writer, trying to break into the industry, hearing that someone had independently made things happen filled me with optimism and positivity. It reminded me of two things; One, make sure your content, story, film, or end product is good; and two, network like crazy. If the big fish turn your vision, concept down, speak to people who have made things happen and follow that path.
I also met, by accident, a lovely man named Chord. He works in PR, and has very recently launched his own magazine. The content was amazing, he is already doing great things and will no doubt; go on to achieve even bigger and greater things.
I did not spend much time talking to the workers at the BBC, although they were all very friendly and approachable, the perception I had was that they were at a work do and were having a great time catching up with their work colleagues.
All in all I think the BBC can and should feel proud of the CDN. I wish the CDN all the best and just hope it gets bigger and better with time.
*See the creative diversity network website for the full details
*Picture: Zawe Ashton ‘Fresh meat actress’ who won the nomination for ‘best breakthrough on screen talent’.
Donna Dowe is an up and coming screenwriter.