Levelling up: Sam Fray on driving diversity in the screen industries in the North

Sam Fray is the Beyond Brontës Programme Manager at Screen Yorkshire. The programme was established to address the lack of diversity in the screen industries by supporting young people in Bradford and Leeds City Region to develop the skills, confidence and connections to enter and succeed in the screen industries.

Having worked within the industry, Sam has experienced the lack of diversity and the associated issues at first hand. Sam has worked in production offices and has often been the only Black woman present. She’s also attended meetings where she has been made to feel that her thoughts and ideas are of little value. Having her sentences finished or corrected was also common, whilst aspects of her culture have been the subject of ridicule in the workplace.

Fortunately, these experiences have only strengthened Sam’s resolve to change things in the industry. For her, failure is not an option and although she feels the pressure, Sam sees it as her duty to pave the way and make it easier for Black women to succeed. She laments the lack of Black or Asian people in key roles and says diversity in the North is a long way off that in the South.

To get started on putting things right, honesty is required from the organisations that make up the industry. The problems need to be acknowledged and organisations need to take ownership of the practices that have created the status quo. Only when industry executives are more open, can policies and processes be revised to drive sustainable change.

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