How an iconic photo inspired us to do something special
We were inspired by this iconic photo, “A Great Day in Harlem” depicting 57 of the most happening jazz musicians in Harlem, New York (1958). Our idea, 57 inspiring UK TV practitioners, media makers, Black and Brown people.
Our photo shoot took place in a studio. Adding a dash of digital, the media makers took their own photos via a super selfie designed and comped by our amazing photographer David Freeman.
This week’s events at @ClwstwrCreu in Wales facilitated the #leaderslist’s fresh outing. Clwstwr is the creative hub in Wales that forges a spectrum of media innovations, ambitious programmes and start ups, such as: AI specialists Amplyfi creating the next generation search engine to help journalists and Nasma Aljizawi from Intertellar who’s turned her rich past and cumulated experience from Syria and the UK into an extraordinary immersive programme attracting attention from charities.
At City Hall, Wales, the list, thanks to Gavin and Clwstwr, was unveiled. It would compliment a debate I was chairing in the council chamber with two titans of media, Pat Younge and Prof Marcus Ryder ME also featured in the List. Simone Pennant MBE, the co-producer of the list sadly couldn’t make the day.
And this is what it looks like, a digital nod to “A Great Day in Harlem.”
Its visual impact yields amongst many other surprises Barthe’s punctum — a sensory experience begging multiple questions. Looking on is Marcus, who is Head of External Affairs at the Sir Lenny Henry Institute for Media Diversity and co-editor behind Black British Lives Matter and Access All Areas with Sir Lenny Henry. Sir Lenny is also in the list.
Some of those questions are: What’s each person’s story? Is there a collective story? You might even ask who is this person? Against an industry head wind they’ve pushed. Against several challenges they’ve continue to build portfolios. Their audiences love what they do. They inspire. Don’t you want to be inspire? This is me looking on giving the List some context.
The photos metaphorically and physically come to life from a series of interviews we conducted. @LennyHenry said if you’re not going to invite us to the party, we’ll have our own. Their stories, talking about their successes and the industry. Here’s a sample. Several have since moved on, with new titles, from when we first shot in 2017 e.g. Marcus, Brenda, Pat, Angela, Maxine etc. Their words resonate.
This a lengthier interview with Sir Lenny Henry
The list has toured schools and City Hall London. At City Hall in this shot Baroness Lawrence OBE, a British Jamaican campaigner whose son Stephen Lawrence, a black British teenager, was murdered in a racist attack in 1993 in South East London.
After City Hall, I showed it at a school in S. London. Two boys were looking at David P. Davis. “Who’s he?”, one asked. He writes for Dr Who, I said. Several boys overheard and ran forward. They just stared wide eyed. “Dr Who!”, they chimed. I looked at the teacher. Job done!
I shared the project with the DCMS and the editor of Vogue. This is what they had to say.
But the job is far from on a broader scale. Created in 2017, their stories inspire a new generation and also serve as index to the status quo. How can we ensure these narratives, these images find new audiences? Here we’re calling on institutions like the @ahrcpress, @southbankcentre, @V_and_A, and @britishlibrary so the stories continue some more in different and poignant ways
Many thanks to Gavin, Sally, Justin and Sara at Clwstwr