Learning the Ropes mentoring session - April

Mentee Raissa reflects on the strong bond the cohort has formed as they reunite with their mentors and enjoy a Mini Networking session

22 June 2023

Written by Raissa Bosamba

As we stepped into the third session of our six-month mentoring programme, it felt like that moment when you’ve come back from the long six-week summer holiday and you and your friends reunite screaming, squealing and hugging in the middle of the playground. No one would’ve guessed we all just met a few months ago. We’ve become each other's biggest fans; the bond that has been created between us feels so natural.

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Upon arrival, we all had a quick catch-up and shared a few trending topics to get the laughs going. Soon after we were greeted by Dermot O'Leary, our favourite person. He has been so hands-on throughout this whole program, making time for us within his busy schedule as well as taking the time to know us individually and the career paths we want to pursue. He gave us a rundown of the evening and had the mentors re-introduce themselves just for a quick refresh. We then had the opportunity to break away with our own individual mentors to catch up.

I have been lucky to be paired with the wonderful Yasmin Ali, a freelancer in the TV industry working across both factual and scripted programming. She has experience in documentaries, drama, factual entertainment and children's TV. Yasmin who is currently working as a Development Editor is also a talented artist and writer, making short films and photography projects along with writing for theatre and various publications.

This is the perfect pairing as we've bonded over our desire to shine a light on underrepresented voices and perspectives. She also understands me and puts me at ease whenever I start to overthink a project I’m working on. She’s always constantly motivating me and teaching me essential steps that will aid in my journey of becoming a Director.

During our chat, I told her about the running jobs that I had managed to get and all the multiple skills I’d acquired. I showed her my revamped CV and asked her for any tips or tricks she may have when emailing potential employers. She told me “Don’t be afraid to keep following up with people, be gentle but persistent. Don’t give up just because you didn’t get a reply the first time.” We agreed that building a contact database would be the best course of action in order to track my communications. We also talked about the current short story I’m writing. She has tasked me with creating character profiles along with a full treatment based on the examples she had shown me the week prior.

While in our pairs, Dermot made his way around the room sitting-in on our conversations and getting a feel of how we were bonding with our mentors, and whether we felt we were making any progress in our professional journey.

After catching up with our mentors, we were encouraged to do a Mini Networking session to speak to some of the other mentors that we hadn’t had much one-on-one time with. I first spoke with Ryan Hawkins, ITV’s This Morning line producer. He had given the group the opportunity to go down to the studio and sit in on some of the recordings for This Morning a few weeks ago. I was the first to attend. I was super nervous but once I got into the studio it was as if I was just visiting old friends, everyone I met was so welcoming and encouraging. Me and Ryan spoke about my CV and what made it stand out as well as elements that could be added to increase my hiring opportunities.

I then spoke to Ashley Whitehouse – me and him go way back to the first mentoring session as our conversation was full of laughter. He is such a free spirit and easy to talk to. Ashley offered me some advice from an Executive Producers' POV; he told me to “stay ambitious and keep going for what I want.” As well as to “make sure you are making all the right connections starting with the people in this room”.

After the mini-networking moment, the group gathered back together, and we had a few people share what they had been up to. I told the group about the awards ceremonies that I had managed to be hired for as a talent liaison and how much of a new and exciting experience it was for me.

We then were introduced to Koby Adom by Dermot just before the Q&A had begun. I personally was excited as back in the summer of 2020 I signed up for his Writing/Direction Advice Session. The best thing I recall from that session was Koby telling me, “Stop calling yourself an aspiring director and start claiming that you are a Director”. I've held onto that advice and made sure to put it into practice especially when I start to have moments of self-doubt.

The Q&A session went really in-depth into how Koby got his start and the trials and tribulations he faced while following his dream. He spoke about growing up in south London and his love for media growing through playing around with graphics in MSN to create tag names. That touch of creativity started a spark which ignited further in college when he studied media studies.

Having most of his friends incarcerated and being left alone, he was able to use that solitude to find joy in editing and quickly became obsessed. He also spoke about how he juggled a full-time job whilst attending film school. For him, those were the times that made him cultivate his work ethic. He touched on having faith and still staying motivated after graduating film school and during times he didn’t have any creative projects lined up.

After struggling to figure out what to write and where to find his next story, he was given what he classifies as the best piece of advice he’s ever received and it was “write something only you can write. Take people through a rollercoaster of emotions “. From this Haircut was born; based on a true event that Koby experienced first-hand.

I can truly say the love he has for the craft is infectious. One thing that I aim for in life is to feel happy and free in whatever I do and when Koby said “as a Director, working a 12-hour day feels like 2hours, and at the end of it I feel as if I’m floating”. That’s the feeling I want. After listening to such an inspiring story, we went around the room asking him every and any questions that we could. I can say for sure we wrapped up the night feeling motivated and reassured about our career choices.

Obviously, we had to seal the evening with a perfect selfie in true media style! I'm glad to be a part of this program, as I see growth within myself. I now feel more confident and can say I have a well-formed CV all thanks to the opportunities offered to us by A New Direction. I look forward to the next session as I know Dermot will have another exceptional guest who will bestow upon us a great deal of wisdom.

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