Well, I really ought to be, having a degree in politics and all, but theory is very different from real life as we all know. Until something comes along that you really can’t ignore and the only way to change things is to get involved. (Moaning and whinging don’t count as they don’t change anything, apart from making others feel miserable!) Whatever your feelings about party politics, which is usually a subject area to avoid in conversations between friends, there is still a great deal that can be achieved if you are politically active.
As a media professional, I have spent many hours in the company of journalists, editors and production teams on the ‘phone or face to face ‘selling in’ a story or idea. I have observed first hand a media population that is demographically from a small section of society rather than one that is representative of the whole.
Lenny Henry’s campaign for greater diversity in the media caught my attention:
When I read about Lenny Henry’s campaign to ensure more BAME (black and minority ethnic people) are employed in the media to match society’s proportion of BAME citizens, I felt moved to do something. I wrote an essay on how to improve the image of Black people in the media way back in the 80s* and sadly progress has been slow. For a national icon like Lenny Henry to stick his neck out to lead a campaign, in his capacity as a high-profile black actor speaks volumes. He’s an institution, part of the establishment and perhaps can afford to take risks. My instinct is that others in the professional may be less inclined to go public with their frustrations, for fear of being labelled a trouble maker and further reduce their potential for employment in such a cut-throat industry.
Lenny has used his influence as a member of the established and credible acting fraternity. People sometimes get sniffy about actors jumping on their soapboxes to support a cause, but this one is a clear fit for Lenny. Reading some of the comments after his campaign video was posted on the Guardian website state the case perfectly for an intelligent debate about race equality in the media and society in general.
Whatever you think about the campaign, the important thing to remember is to stay engaged, stay active as nothing will change if you don’t.
* I will post this article in the near future.
© Suzy Rigg