A black documentary maker has said senior filmmaking figures need to “trust” young creatives to improve diversity in the industry.
Basma Khalifa, who is to speak at the Black Young Professionals (BYP) Network’s two-day leadership conference starting on Thursday, said change will come when people in charge give black filmmakers a chance.
“It’s (about) having people trust you. The people at the top need to give people an opportunity,” she told the PA news agency.
Having styled for Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar after university, the 31-year-old said her first documentary – Inside The Real Saudi Arabia: Why I Had to Leave – was made possible by a BBC executive.
“My executive was an example of (trust). He didn’t know me… and he was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to trust you, I’m going to give you a chance’, and look at what happened,” she said.
“I think it all comes down to trust and opportunity.”
From styling the likes of Adele and Naomi Campbell to featuring on BBC Radio 1 and honing her passion for documentary-making, Ms Khalifa said she understands the “great responsibility” she has.
“There’s definitely a pressure to represent, but it’s not a pressure that I’m struggling with,” she said.
“I think it’s important that my role comes with great responsibility… I don’t really shy away from it, I enjoy it.”
The filmmaker added that one of her main pieces of advice for young black creatives is to “find the team that clicks with you and clicks with your vision”.
“No one is a one-man band. You have to have a team… and the only way that you’re going to have your team that you trust is by networking,” she said.
She praised the BYP Network conference, an annual event where more than 150 speakers will offer advice and insight into the world’s most competitive industries.
The network is a platform for black professionals to connect with each other, find jobs, sign up to mentorship schemes and seek funding.
“I wish I had what this conference is doing. Young creatives or people who want to get in and want to figure out what they’re doing: it’s at your fingertips,” Ms Khalifa said.
“It’s literally being handed to you on a plate. So if it’s handed to you on a plate, take the plate.”
The BYP Network conference is free and anyone can attend online at: corporate.byp-network.com/leadership-conference-2021