Long-time followers of my infrequently-updated personal blog will know I love to make big, public announcements about my private and somewhat inconsequential business, so here goes: 2020 edition.
Many of you will know, I have had a really varied career in media, from running around on nightshoots as an assistant director, to directing and producing drama for Radio. It was mostly an awful lot of fun. But, at some point, it kind of stopped being fun. All I really wanted was to find my champion; someone who would help me progress through the industry, who would celebrate my dedication to diversity and accept me as the passionate person I am. That did not happen for me. While I am not here to focus on the negatives or blow whistles on those places or people who treated me badly, bullied and degraded me, I came to a point where my relationship with the industry was broken. I did not know whether it could be fixed, nor whether I even wanted it to be.
And then, swooping-in like my own guardian angel, at precisely the perfect moment was Hayley McKenzie. We had discussed a role with her company, Script Angel, and when the company expanded I was hired. And I am so, so grateful that I was.
No one should have to wait until they are in their forties to find a boss who openly appreciates and supports them, but better late than never. I am just about to celebrate two years working with and for Hayley and it is a massive celebration. Not only have I worked with the most wonderful clients on the most exciting and varied script projects, but Hayley has encouraged and enabled every single conversation I wanted to have about diversity. This year she facilitated my idea for the Script Angel Inclusion Scholarship. To say I am proud of the response we received is an understatement. It has been so rewarding, working with my wee bunch of super-talented and brilliant new writers. The whole experience was a massive privilege. Also, to be completely honest, the last two years working from home has been not too bad neither.
During the last fifteen years working in media, I have pitched ideas, for TV, radio and film, with an increasingly strong social conscience. At some point, my passion for diversity and inclusion became greater than my passion for programme production. I realised that, rather than telling stories about the issues affecting us today, I want to work in policy and actually affect those issues.
As a trans person, I have become increasingly focused on the multiple trans crises in the UK; the public ‘debate’ around trans people’s right to exist, the failure of the government to overhaul the Gender Recognition Act and the stigma and discrimination trans people face daily, while their abusers face no consequences. Throughout 2019, with lots of help, I tried to nail down a subject for a PhD proposal. I had broad and lofty ambitions, such as conducting a UK-wide trans census, and wanted to examine and resolve all the issues my trans siblings and I face, across health, welfare and daily life.
However, a three-year doctoral study requires focus and I landed upon an advert for a PhD studentship in Cardiff. This was a specific project, funded and managed in partnership between the University’s HateLab research group and an LGBT+ anti-hate charity called Galop. The advert invited proposals and, as an example, said prospective applicants might wish to research online transphobic hate.
Trans people are harassed and abused online every day. There are big names and blue-tick ‘celebrities’ making it their mission to fan the flames of hate in a transphobic media, endorsing a transphobic government and heating up public opinion. It can be painful, demoralising and harmful, affecting mental health and putting trans people in grave danger, just because of who they are. Of course I want to tackle this.
I am pleased to announce that, if academia still exists after the current apocalypse, I will start in October. So now I have a lot of learning to do.
Even though I absolutely love my job as a coach with Script Angel, working with writers and the other coaches, I handed in my notice yesterday. It has been my favourite job in TV and I’m sad to leave this position, although I had been keen to leave the industry for some time. I am so grateful that I have been able to find a new path, about which I’m so passionate. I love studying, always have – I know how lucky I am, and I will squeeze every possible opportunity out of my PhD experience.
I do not drink booze, so raise a cuppa to me and if you want to send gifts, I prefer Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, A5, with dotted lines and in muted tones. Thanks.