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I have been speaking out on the lack of diversity behind the scenes for as long as I can remember. But I have been compelled to finally say something publicly because in this crucial time for the fight for change and equality… if not now, then when?
For the sake of our future generation, I must say something now.
Seeing the current cast of the popular ITV Show ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ sent me over the edge, I felt like I was going to burst with frustration. After the experiences I have had with ITV personally, knowing what I have expressed to them. Compared to any other network, the progress they have made for real change isn’t significant enough. And this must be addressed.
I feel that others who may have worked for the network, still currently work for the network or hope to work for the network, would love to say something about the lack of diversity but wouldn’t due to the possible repercussions of not being able to work with them again. I would hope that me speaking out, will give them the courage to do so. I look at the lack of diversity for example on ITVBe, it’s astonishing to me that looking at the programs they air, viewing the Channels Instagram feed I am just so disappointed. Having a token Person Of Colour in an episode and a Instagram post once in a while, isn’t diversity. I can’t understand for example the location they film at the most; Essex which I’m certain is filled with People Of Colour does not reflect that in casting? One Black person or heavily tanned White People does not represent People Of Colour, that isn’t diversity!
My personal experience with ITV started with the first Season of the revived TV Show ‘Love Island’. I was referred to the show after recently returning back to London from New York. I was told this could be a great opportunity for my career.
I spoke with casting and explained to them my background, they believed it could be a good thing to add me to the cast because I actually knew one of the female cast members who just so happened to be at the same LA Playboy events, doing the same U.S model jobs and actually we became friendly. I guess it would make a good storyline.
After a lot of back and fourth, they wanted to put me on the show, I had a feeling of hesitation because I had never seen the show, nor did I know what it was like. I felt that having done major network shows in New York, that it would have been better for me to have been chosen as a main cast member and not thrown in last minute. I also came to the conclusion with the back and fourth delay, this was because of another Woman of Colour that was already in the house and I believe they were waiting to see if/when she was leaving as I don’t think we both could be in the house at the same time. I was eventually told that I could join the cast, I decided to pass on the show but wanted to keep the door open for an opportunity with ITV and said to the casting team, to contact me when they were casting for another TV Show.
I was later on contacted by the ITV casting team to shoot a Pilot TV Show, I was the only Person Of Colour in the cast, once again selected to represent the ‘other’ which I think is a lot of pressure on an individual and doesn’t make any sense. With so many beautiful people in this world, why must we continue to not show a representation of that on TV, in the Press and overall to society; so diversity becomes normality.
With companies like Sainsbury’s making headline news for showing an all Black family at Christmas. Despite the backlash they received, setting the tone for change makes a difference, even with the short-term loss on a long-term basis this is significant for progress.
After sometime I was contacted again by ITV Casting about a New! TV Show called ‘Survival of the Fittest’ I was told to apply as I could possibly be cast for the show. I found myself compelled after applying for the show to reach out directly to one of the TV Producers working on the show to voice my concerns I had. Knowing the process and the formula they have consistently used in the past I wanted to state my feelings specifically on the hopes that they were going to cast more than one Woman of Colour and add more diversity of Ethnicities and the age range wasn’t limited to 18-21 year olds. Women have been overlooked in the past for being over the age of 25. So I wanted to share my concerns and observations with someone who had the power to make a difference in the process. I received an email back assuring me that they were 100% going to cast a diverse group of people.
Now I was never cast for the show because I think due to my age, even though I don’t look it… I possibly wouldn’t have found a match with the very young men they selected. But what I found refreshing was the fact a young Woman Of Colour was selected to Win the show. Which put a huge smile on my face, I knew my direct email to this TV Producer had made a difference. Later on after this show had ended, socially I met three members of the cast who were on the TV Show and they all said; they had doubts as to why she was selected as the Winner of the show, they had no idea why she had Won…I never made a comment on the subject but I knew why.
The Entertainment Industry has always had racial discrimination as long as I have been alive and beyond. And I have learnt whilst living in NYC how to deal with it on all levels. From direct discrimination, to being booked as the token Person Of Colour to represent a whole spectrum of Ethnicities. With all that being said I still had more of a variety of opportunities there; as showing a wider range of diversity is part of the culture.
With London no Television Network make it easy, none of them are perfect but I feel with ITV at the level that they are, with so much influence over the public viewing it’s imperative that they push for change. Even if they receive a little controversy, representation matters! They have to stop using the old formula of having a few token individuals to cover the 20% requirement and actually embrace the idea of a new normal, this is the time to lead by example. This is the time for real changes.
Licensed Images – St
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