Last week the IPA announced that BAME representation is declining in adland, with the proportion of staff in UK agencies from BAME backgrounds falling at each of the three highest levels of seniority. That’s why for this month’s Unmistakables Character, we felt it was our duty to shine a spotlight on the incredible talent rising through the ranks of the world of advertising.
Meet Fatima Kried.
Leaving behind a ‘safe’ career path to follow her passion and fulfil her dream of becoming a Producer - by day, she is making waves at BBH London.
By night, you may have also seen her poetry-slamming at the Lovebox Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or shifting culture as part of “Culture in the Craft,” a podcast made by and for BAME people making “Crea-tech” [Creative Tech] a more diverse and inclusive place.
Today, we talk to her about representation, creation and isolation (as well as everything in-between...)
What's your name and what are you working on currently?
My name is Fatima Kried and I am an Advertising Producer. I am also part of the Culture in the Craft team. I’m currently working on two short documentaries in my spare time. One is an animation discussing someone's experience in the Lebanese War in 2006, and the other is an investigative journalism piece reporting on a specific decision made in the 80s that has connected the Arab world with Catalonia. Two very different projects! It is quite nice to go back and forth between them, keeps my days interesting.
What pushed you to be part of 'Culture in the Craft'?
The idea of bringing diversity to light within adverts, or sadly, the lack of diversity within our actual advertising offices has always been an important topic for me. Being part of 'Culture in the Craft' has allowed me to explore that, as well as reach out to minority groups who may not feel like they have an opportunity to work in advertising or media due to the lack of representation in the field.
Does your identity affect your life and the choices you have made?
I think it's impossible for identity not to affect your life, especially when living somewhere where your actions are always highlighted as being part of "where you are from". I identify as Arab more than anything, and feel like a lot of my life choices have been a direct response to wanting to build a 'safe space' for my younger sister to grow up, not feeling out of place or different in any way.
My choice to work in advertising was due to the passion I had for the industry. Though, the choices I make daily, such as fighting for diversity are a direct result of wanting a wider group of people to feel represented and heard on our screens.
Who are your role models and why have they shaped you?
My grandfather is a major role model. He sadly passed away a year ago, but I have always looked up to his open-minded nature and his general pure joy of being alive. It had a huge impact on my personality and generally how I view my own life. The most important life lesson that my granddad left in his legacy was that he fought for everyone's ability to learn, and have the freedom to explore the world around them. I think about him a lot whenever I want to start a new venture, knowing that he will be proud of me no matter the result.
Do you think other people see you differently to how you see yourself?
I really struggled to answer this question - I don't think I know how other people see me well enough to be able to comment on it. Though I think realistically, I'm probably a lot harder on myself than people are on me.
Does your identity fit the mainstream perception of advertising production?
Haha, sadly it doesn't fit very well right now on face value but I believe it will get better eventually. I have yet to walk on a production set and see any other Arabs also working there, that's a sad truth I hope won't be true forever. I also do see my 'identity' as being a 'creative problem solver,' I think it's essential to always be on hand with all the tiny - and sometimes big - issues that crop up in Production with as many solutions as possible.
What one thing you wish someone had told you when you were younger?
Fear isn't the result of inexperience, but the result of caring and wanting to do something well. Even experts get scared.
If you were to write your memoirs, what would you title it?
"Nod and smile."
It was the advice my grandad told my 7-year-old self at the airport who didn't speak any English, on my way to London for the first time. Back then it was meant as a helpful reminder not to panic in my new home if I didn't understand what was being said to me.
But now as an adult, that advice still resonates with a slightly different meaning. It now, to me, means listen before reacting. You don't have to agree with everyone, but it's important to not disregard what they're saying without giving it some thought first.
What is one book that you recommend as a must-read for self-development during this time alone in social isolation?
I love the book "Of Things Gone Astray." I read it at a very hard time in my life and something about that book really gave me a motivational push to press on. It's beautifully written and not very long, so it's easy to get stuck into during a time where all of our lives are changing dramatically and our brains have started getting restless while trying to figure out what's happening.
On a non-self-development note, the book "Ready Player One" is a brilliant distraction, it's very easy to feel part of a new sci-fi world and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something new to read.
How are you experiencing Ramadan in isolation?
I've found Ramadan so much easier while in lockdown. Even though the world outside is in quite a scary place, being forced to stay indoors almost puts you in your own ‘safe bubble,’ and I've taken the time to enjoy the peace and quiet of being home.