A group of prominent BAME British filmmakers has sent an open letter to the UK TV and film industry about their concerns on representation in front of, and behind, the camera.

So far, the letter has received over 3,500 signatures, predominantly from people of colour working in the British Film and TV industry. These include: Michaela Cole, Noel Clarke, David Oyelowo, Sophie Okonedo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Meera Syal, Gurinder Chadha, Asif Kapadia, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Harewood and Himesh Patel.

Alongside those are signatures from white industry members including names such as Sandi Toksvig, Colin Firth, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Ruth Wilson, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Feinnes, Sue Perkins and Vicky McClure, as well as behind-the-camera decision-makers and creatives such as Jed Mercurio (writer and EP on Line of Duty/The Bodyguard), Jane Featherstone (Founder of Sister and EP of Chernobyl) , Ollie Madden (Creative Director at Film 4), David Yates (Director of Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts Films),  Nick Marston (Head of Curtis Brown Agency) and Jenne Casarotto (Head of Casarotto Agency).

The letter, and the signatories, are below

 

21 June 2020

Dear UK Film and TV Industry,

Having been inspired by the Black Film Collective who put together a powerful open

letter to Hollywood last week on behalf of many brothers and sisters in the industry,

we would like to send you something in collaboration with them, which we feel

addresses our continuing issues with the UK industry.

This letter is from your colleagues in the UK – Black and Brown (inc. all Asians)

independent producers, writers, directors and actors in alliance with many advocates

for change. As one extended community, we require your active engagement to tackle

structural and systemic racism in our industry, in the UK and around the world.

While messages condemning racism and advocating for solidarity on social media

may inspire hope, the UK Industry must put its money and practices where its mouth

is. A direct line can be drawn from the stories and voices that are silenced and

ignored, to the discrimination and biases that are pervasive in the entertainment

industry and larger society. This moment in history presents an opportunity for you

to be a positive partner for change.

Our aim is that this letter produces strategic commitments from you to reshape our

industry into one whose words are supported by action. Toward that end:

1. Banish “Your Weak Excuses”

Banish “ it’s too small ” from your lexicon. It is insulting to our stories, our history,

our impact on world culture, and our worth. Our stories are referred to as “too small”

because they do not centre around white characters or a small subset of actors whom

you deem valuable; they are not always written by the same white writers that you

deem to be “safe”. Banish “ we already have a diverse project on our slate ”. There is

room for more than one. You make countless projects with similar themes and

storylines with white creatives. Banish “ that feels risky ”. We know we are

introducing you to new unproven talent, but why is the same white man (who has

made a string of flops after his one hit 10 years ago) still deemed less risky than a

new brown or black writer with original and well written ideas. We know that many

of our stories feel unfamiliar to you because they go against your preconceived

notions of us and make you step outside your familiar world. But they are familiar to

us. Hire us and together let us tell truthful, bold and imaginative stories from rich

new perspectives. There are countless men and women in the streets right now,

putting their lives, health, and livelihoods on the line, fighting for an end to systemic

racism. There will be no end until financiers, distributors and the community of

decision-makers cease this practice of marginalising our voices and our stories. If

Black lives matter to you, our stories and the scale on which they are marketed and

distributed must as well.

2. Empower Black and Brown Independent Producers

Hiring Black and Brown writers and directors is of course of great importance, but

rarely is this opportunity given to Black and Brown independent producers. Only 5%

of the producers supported by the BFI in 2018/19 were producers of colour. This is

especially troubling because producers often work with multiple writers and

directors. Supporting one producer effectively supports many Black and Brown

professionals above and below the line. Take a deeper look at the community of Black

and Brown independent producers, working hand in hand with talented directors.

Many have compelling slates of projects in need of willing partners. There hasn’t

been a Black/Brown producer on Variety’s “10 Producers to Watch” list since 2017.

We don’t mean to point the finger solely at Variety, because similar lists are printed

in various trades. In addition, they all seek recommendations from agencies,

management companies, and elite publicists. So this incredibly valuable publicity is

often limited to advancing the careers of those who need publicity the least.

Empower those that need it the most.

3. Expand Your Vision

Think outside the box when looking for new talent. There are numerous diversity

schemes out there, which is a good start and we support them all. But we need more

sustained endorsement. Empower those that come through those schemes.

Let us look at making sure those graduates stay in the industry and are nurtured and

promoted so that they become the decision makers and help create change. Until we

are in positions of power nothing will really change.

4. Be More Demanding

Actors, managers and agents must become more demanding about the teams behind

the camera. If there are no Black producers, no Brown DOPs, no diverse department

heads, you must speak up and challenge. To agents, be proactive in asking on behalf

of your clients. Look at your rosters too. Who do you represent? How diverse are

they? Without your vocal support, we will continue to be largely shut out of this

industry and it is not for lack of excellence. It is for lack of will on the part of

producers, network executives and studio heads. It is that simple.

We challenge you to become willing partners in this crucial endeavor. If the full

spectrum of our experiences are not produced, marketed and celebrated with some

regularity then you are actively denying our humanity and our history. Our stories

and experiences can no longer be limited to being backdrops for white narratives and

protagonists. Until we are able to show our FULL joy, grief, fear, history, pride and

all the other myriad of emotions and experiences, then you are simply upholding the

status quo and enabling a society that keeps white people comfortable in their racism

and Black and Brown people perpetually dehumanised. Until we are allowed to make

mistakes and try again like many of our white counterparts, we will never succeed in

the same way. You are a large part of the problem and it is time to be honest about it.

For far too long, the images on our screens have projected lies and partial truths

when it comes to our lives and history, minimising our perceived value and creating

ripple effects throughout society.

This letter is in defence of all Black and Brown creative artists and the communities

they come from. It is in defence of the millions of lives that have gone unrecorded. It

is in defence of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Belly Mujinga, Trayvon Martin,

Stephen Lawrence, Zahid Mubarek, Mark Duggan, Sarah Reed, the black and brown

health professionals who have died from Covid -19, and so many other lives

senselessly and tragically cut short.

Your messages in support of Black Lives Matter are a first step. But after decades of

enabling racism in your ranks and beyond, it is time to do more. If Black lives really

matter to you, our stories must as well. Please help us tell the whole truth. Black and

Brown lives all over the world depend on it.

 

 

Signed by,

1. Nisha Parti Producer

2. Meera Syal Actress & Writer

3. Indira Varma Actress

4. Anita Rani Presenter

5. Tanika Gupta Playwright

6. Pooja Ghai Director and Actor

7. Sanjeev Bhaskar Actor Writer

8. Sathnam Sanghera Journalist

9. Wunmi Mosaku Actor

10. Naomi Ackie Actor

11. Shaheen Baig Casting Director

12. Chiwetel Ejiofor Actor

13. Anjli Mohindra Actress

14. Sophie Okonedo Actor

15. Michaela Coel Artist

16. Lennie James Actor/Writer

17. David Harewood Actor/Director

18. Sally El Hosaini Filmmaker

19. Gugu Mbatha-Raw Actor

20.Roopesh Parekh Producer – His Dark Materials

21. Katie Leung Actor

22. David Oyelowo Actor, Producer, Director

23. Bernardine Evaristo Writer

24. Noel Clarke Actor/Writer/Director/Producer

25. Amma Asante Writer/Director

26. Jatinder Verma Director & CEO JVProductions

27. Ritesh Batra Director/ Writer

28.Asif Kapadia Director / Writer / Producer

29. Lydia Adetunji Writer

30.Himesh Patel Actor

31. Bola Agbaje Screen and tv writer

32. Susan Wokoma Actor & Writer

33. Jina Jay Casting Director

34. Gurinder Chadha Director/Producer/Writer Bend it Films & TV

35. Prasanna Puwanarajah Actor / Director / Writer

36. Anna Maria Ssemuyaba Writer

37. Lolita Chakrabarti Actor/Writer

38.Mahalia Belo Director

39. Kwame Kwei-Armah Artistic director YOUNG VIC

40.Ruth Negga Actor

41. Bharat Nalluri Director

42. Aleem Khan Director

43. Will Sharpe Writer, Director, Actor

44. Anjana Vasan Actress

45. Nicholas Pinnock Actor

46. Cathy Tyson Actor

47. Nadia Latif Director

48.Nikki Amuka-Bird Actor

49. Tina Gharavi Director/Screenwriter, Bridge + Tunnel

50.Rapman Director/Writer/Producer

51. Shazad Latif Actor/Writer

52. Richie Mehta Writer/Director

53. Abby Ajayi Writer

54. Udayan Prasad Director

55. Namsi Khan Writer

56. Amit Gupta Writer / Director

57. Jimmy Akingbola Actor

58. Farah Abushwesha Producer, Rocliffe Limited

59. Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti Playwright/Screenwriter

60.Bisha K. Ali Writer & Producer

61. Vinay Patel Writer

62. James Krishna Floyd Actor and Writer

63. Ambreen Razia Actress/Writer

64. Aysha Rafaele Executive Producer, BBC Studios

65. Sacha Dhawan Actor

66. Krishnendu Majumdar Producer & Co-founder Me+You Productions

67. Noma Dumezweni Actor

68.Preethi Mavahalli Executive Producer

69. Nikesh Shukla Writer

70. Destiny Ekaragha Director

71. Rachel De-lahay Writer

72. Colin Firth Actor

73. Miriam Margolyes Actress

74. Jay Basu Screenwriter

75. Nour Wazzi Writer/ Director

76. Charlie Covell Writer/Producer

77. Tinge Krishnan writer director Disruptive Element Films

78. Lynne Ramsay Film writer/director/producer

79. Bennett McGhee Producer

80.Rhys ifans Actor

81. Indhu Rubasingham Artistic Director Kiln Theatre

82.Abi Morgan Writer

83.Adeel Akhtar Actor

84.Julie Harkin Casting Director

85. Sumerah Srivastav Writer

86.Shane Meadows Writer Director

87. Kulvinder Ghir Actor/Writer

88.Sandi Toksvig Writer/Presenter

89.Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor Producer

90.Saul Dibb Director

91. Theresa Ikoko Writer

92. Stephen Graham Actor

93. Kiran Sonia Sawar Actress

94. Vanessa Kirby Actor

95. Clara Amfo Radio & TV broadcaster

96. Joe Barton Writer

97. Jed Mercurio Writer

98.Hong Khaou Writer/Director

99. Samantha Morton Actor/Writer/Director

100. Gautam Malkani Writer

101. Andrew Lincoln Actor

102. Suri Krishnamma Director

103. Ralph Fiennes Actor

104. Mo Ali Director

105. Tony Jayawardena Actor

106. Rikki Beadle-Blair Writer Director Producer Actor

107. Gwendoline Christie Actress

108. David Thewlis Actor, Writer

109. Seamus McGarvey Cinematographer

110. Kwadjo Dajan Exec. Producer and CEO / Sugar Films

111. Vicky McClure Actor

112. Bindni Karia Director

113. Jack Thorne Writer

114. Afolabi Kuti Producer – Broedmachine

115. Mia Bays Birds Eye View

116. Kharmel Cochrane Casting Director

117. Jodie Whittaker Actor

118. Nadine Marsh-Edwards Producer

119. Ruth Wilson Actor/producer/director

120. Kaleem Aftab Journalist

121. Phillipa Lowthorpe Director

122. Furquan Akhtar Writer

123. Jane Featherstone Founder, Sister

124. Jamelia Broadcaster, Presenter, Writer

125. Sarah Gavron Writer/Director

126. Dennis Kelly Writer

127. Amy Ng Writer

128. Eddie Marsan Actor

129. Cush Jumbo OBE Actor and Writer

130. Benedict Wong Actor

131. Ashley Pharoah Writer

132. Ben Whishaw Actor

133. Nisha Nayar Actor

134. Nikesh Patel Actor

135. Aisling Bea Actor, Writer, Comedian, Producer

136. Robbie Ryan Cinematographer

137. Venera Shameti 42M&P

138. Angela Griffin Actor

139. Emilia Clarke Actor

140. Dominic Buchanan Producer

141. Melissa Iqbal Screenwriter

142. Sue Perkins Writer/ Presenter

143. Konnie Huq Broadcaster/Presenter

144. Ayub Khan Din Actor/writer

145. Lenny Abrahamson Director

146. Mitesh Soni Actor

147. Rudi Dharmalingam Actor

148. Jason Maza CEO Unstoppable Film and TV

149. Mandip Gill Actor

150. Dolly Wells Actor/Writer/Director Independent Talent

151. Nina Gold Casting Director

152. Paul Andrew Williams Writer/Director

153. Cyrus Patel Producer

154. Wayne Garvie Executive Producer

155. Julian Farino Director

156. Yvonne Ibazebo Producer

157. Sally Phillips Actor writer producer

158. Ed Skrein Actor, Writer, Director

159. Thusitha Jayasundera Actor

160. Joseph Fiennes Actor:/ producer

161. Jassa Ahluwalia Actor, Writer & Filmmaker

162. Kaya Scodelario Actor

163. AA Dhand writer

164. Ikenna Obiekwe Agent, Independent Talent Group

165. Shobna Gulati Actor

166. Ayisha Malik Author

167. Gareth Evans Director

168. Rabiah Hussain Writer

169. Morwenna Banks Writer/Actor

170. Luke Jennings Writer

171. Suranne Jones Actor

172. Andrew Joshi Actor

173. Vaseem Khan Author

174. Victor Ngo Actor

175. Juliet Stevenson Actor

176. Camille Mallet de Chauny Actor

177. Mina Anwar Actor, Singer, Director

178. Rhashan Stone Actor / Writer

179. Preti Taneja Writer

180. Phyllida Lloyd Director

181. Bally Gill Actor

182. Sophie Khan Levy Actor

183. Matt Lim Actor, Writer

184. David Yates Director

185. Nyla Levy Actor / Writer

186. Nathaniel Price Writer

187. Peter Morgan Playwright/Screenwriter/Producer

188. Gurjeet Singh Actor

189. Nikita Lalwani Writer

190. Smita Bhide Writer

191. Mady Neil Manager – 42 M&P

192. Adwoa Aboah Actor

193. Sophie Vickers Producer – Rook’s Nest Entertainment

194. Mim Shaikh Broadcaster / Actor / Writer

195. Saima Ferdows Producer and Director

196. Chris Fung Actor

197. Ewen Bremner Actor

198. Rachna Suri Director

199. Mona Arshi Poet

200. Paven Virk Writer

201. Sienna Guillory Actor

202. Rachel Chatterjee Producer – Perfect Features

203. Ayesha Dharker Actor

204. Seeta Indrani Actor/Producer

205. Ian Hart Actor

206. Dr Aisha Gill Women’s Rights Campaigner and Criminologist

207. Peter Moffat Writer

208. Miriam Babooram Actor

209. Jay Oliver Yip Actor & Filmmaker

210. Kate Buckley Agent/Co-founder 42

211. Tariq Mirza Commercial Director

212. Humphrey Hendrix Independent Talent Group

213. Suzanne Mackie Executive Producer at Leftbank

214. Jon Chew Actor

215. Katherine Bridle Head of Film Development, See-Saw Films

216. Abir Mukherjee Author

217. Aisha Bywaters Casting Director

218. Jamie Laurenson Head of Television See-Saw Films

219. Shobu Kapoor Actress

220. Sophie Thompson actor

221. Naomi Cooper-Davis Actor

222. Faye Ward Fable Pictures

223. Hannah Farrell Fable Pictures

224. James Gandhi Head of Drama Development, Studio Lambert

225. Ariane Barnes Artist-Producer & CEO Different Women.

226. Jeremy Ngatho Cole Director

227. Katie Goodson-ThomasHead of UK Prod and Dev, Searchlight Pictures

228. Sharon Henry Agent – Sharon Henry Management

229. Suhayla El-Bushra Writer

230. Sam Otto Actor

231. Jack O’Connell. Actor

232. Nadiya Luthra Post Production Supervisor

233. Nahrein Kemp Film & TV Executive

234. Ben Miller Actor

235. Hayley Atwell Actor

236. Kirris Riviere Actor

237. Emma Freud Broadcaster

238. Janice Okoh Writer

239. Jess Barker-Wren Actor/ Filmmaker

240. Kwadjo Dajan CEO, Sugar Films

241. Bill Nighy Actor

242. Lynda Rooke Actress

243. Tim Roth Actor Director Producer

244. Lydia Parker Artistic Director, Over Here Theatre Company

245. Ishy Din Writer

246. Cherish Shirley Writer and Development Exec

247. Ollie Madden Head of Creative, Film4

248. Ray Cezan Actor

249. Pelumi Akindude Film, TV & Talent development producer

250. Pier Wilkie Producer & Director

251. Iqbal Khan Director

252. Maya Sondhi Writer-Actress

253. Harriet Walter Actor

254. Mat Whitecross Director / Writer

255. Lucy (Chau Lai-Tuen) Sheen Actor/Writer

256. Hope Dickson Leach Writer & Director, Co-Founder Raising Films

257. Annice Boparai Actor

258. Onyinye Egenti Writer/Director

259. Daniel Lawrence TaylorWriter/Actor

260. Nida Manzoor Writer & Director

261. Emma Forrest Writer/Director

262. Julia Godzinskaya ROOKS NEST

263. Ebony Chamberlain-King Actor

264. Rukhsana Mosam Creative Director/Ten66 Television

265. Jenne Casarotto Agent

266. Rakhee Thakrar actress

267. Gwyneth Hughes screenwriter

268. Menhaj Huda Director/Producer

269. Susan Hogg Head of Drama Studio Lambert

270. John Simm Actor

271. Naz Sadoughi Writer/Director

272. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm Playwright and Screenwriter

273. Damian Jones Producer

274. Shaheen Khan Actor

275. Ed Rubin Head of Television – New Regency

276. Rienkje Attoh Producer

277. Sheena Bhattessa Actor

278. Kelle Bryan Actor CEO Advocate Agency, Loose Women

279. Sakuntala Ramanee Actor

280. Beewan Athwal Post Production Producer

281. Samuel Ofori-Attah Writer and director

282. Tanuja Amarasuriya Director & Sound Designer

283. Pravesh Kumar Artistic Director Rifco Theatre Company

284. Waris Hussein Director

285. Stephen Kelliher Director Bankside FIlms

286. Oliver Lansley Writer/Director/Actor

287. Paterson Joseph Actor/Writer/Director

288. Vineeta Rishi ACTOR

289. Emma Lo Actor

290. Rafia Hussain Producer

291. Andrew Koji Actor

292. Constance Cheng Writer

293. Ado Yoshizaki Cassuto Producer

294. Matthew Wilkinson Producer – Stigma Films

295. Matilda Ibini Writer

296. Sudha Bhuchar Actor/Bhuchar Boulevard

297. Nicôle Lecky Actress & Writer & EP

298. Ariyon Bakare Actor/writer/director

299. Jamie Zubairi Actor

300. Elhum Shakerifar Producer, Hakawati

301. Deborah Frances-White Writer/performer

302. Nazrin Choudhury Writer/Producer

The full list of 3,500+ signatures is here.

 

Jon Creamer