Learning the Ropes mentoring session - June

In an inspiring talk, BBC Three's Nasfim Haque, demonstrates the crucial role of BAME representation in the creative industry and the importance of backing your ideas

2 August 2023

Written by Jacob Schwar

Tonight's session was the penultimate evening of the Learning The Ropes mentoring programme, with next month being the final time we will be meeting together at the Thames building! So far, we all knew the drill for how these sessions take place, our excellent host Dermot O’Leary with his ever-cheerful and jovial demeanour gave us all a warm welcome, making sure we were relaxed and comfortable, then after a quick mingle between ourselves, we were left to have 1-1’s with our mentors.

It was great to see my mentor Meriel Beale again in person as unfortunately, she was unable to make it to a previous session in which we had to chat virtually over WhatsApp. Meriel is an executive producer at Woodcut Media producing mostly factual content. We had a rather in-depth catch-up as quite a lot has happened in the past couple of months, with me getting my first bit of paid runner work back in early April and securing even more work up to this point.

The work I have been doing is with a production company specialising in documentary and corporate film, and without the CV and cover letter advice from my mentor, I honestly wouldn’t have secured the work. My mentor really took the time over the course of the scheme to help improve my current CV and provide some proven ‘industry’ tips on writing a great cover letter. I was able to get the job and have since gained some great credits for my CV, improving my overall employability!

Unfortunately, tonight several mentors weren’t present due to work commitments, which was understandable, so I spent some time before the guest talk catching up with my fellow mentees. One mentor I was aiming to chat with was director Rob Davies, who is also a partner in the production company Craft Films. I have personal aspirations to start a production company of my own in the future, so will definitely be having a ‘chin-wag’ with Rob at our next session. However, I was informed by a mentee that the reason for his nonattendance was that he’s currently away in Greece working on a new tv show for ITV – amazing!

After some more delicious pizza and a nice cold refreshment, it was time for tonight’s guest speaker Nasfim Haque, who is Head of Content for BBC Three. Originally coming from a more academic background having studied a PhD and writing some scientific papers, Nasfim would begin her journey as a production trainee at the BBC. She would go on to work across a range of multi-platform content from radio to factual content at the BBC as well as working with some other independent companies in both development and production before landing a commissioning role with Channel 4 and eventually returning to the BBC.

Nasfim spoke with such sincerity when detailing her experience in the industry, it was reassuring and quite inspiring to hear someone with a genuine passion and care for the type of content she chooses to commission often platforming different voices and stories so often unrepresented on national TV.

She came across as tenacious, brave, committed and full of integrity describing a number of occasions on which she chose to stand firm and back the authenticity of the story even if at times it meant she had to disagree with her superiors to get the decision over the line.

Nasfim gave a fantastically inspiring talk which I’m sure really resonated with some of my fellow mentees, especially as it was so wonderful to see and hear from a woman but also a person of colour that has attained such an incredible career in this industry as diversity is still lacking to a degree in the more executive job departments such as commissioning in both tv production and development generally. Nasfim’s story is proof that the industry is slowly changing for the better, I truly hope that some of my fellow female mentee’s can aspire and feel inspired by Nasfim to literally walk in her footsteps and work towards a similar career goal.

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