Author Archives: Asiyo Ali

Creative courses: can you get a job out of it?

Students who take creative courses such as Interior design, photography, art, music and dance are often asked this question: can you get a job out of it? I wanted to explore the negative connotations surrounding this question and how it makes creative students feel when they are constantly asked it.

The first student I interviewed is named Amaal, and she studies international business. Although she does not do a creative course, she has a passion for art and chose not to take a course on it at university. I chose to interview her and she mentioned taking a creative course is something she always saw herself pursuing, but due to reasons she changed her mind and took business instead. As I am researching creative courses and the jobs you can get out of it, I asked her why she decided to not take art.

You mentioned that you have a passion for art and judging by your images, you’re amazing at it. Is there a reason why you didn’t take a course on it at University?

There are many reasons why I didn’t take art as a course. Main reason being that my parents want me to get a degree that would guarantee me that I’ll have a job in the future. At first I was mad at them for saying that but after I understood the importance of stability and having future career plans. Having a degree in international business gives me a higher chance of having a career compared to art. So with the in put of my family and listening to my heart, I decided to take business. However art is still a passion of mine and as a hobby I draw and paint in my free time, so who knows perhaps in the future I can show off my work and do it full time.

Another student I had the pleasure of interviewing is Fatima. Fatima studies interior design at Kingston University and gave her thoughts on this question in this audio interview.

I asked her about her future career plans, how university is prepping her for life after graduation and whether studying interior design was something she has always wanted. With her perspective on this subject, perhaps most creative students share the same views.

Images of Fatima’s recent project that involved ergonomics.
A shot from a site trip Fatima that she describes as an “interesting shot”.

Diversity And Inclusion in TV and Film.

Diversity in film and television is a topic that is constantly discussed. In recent years we have seen more diversity on our screens than ever. From marvel’s “Black Panther” and ”Captain America” to Netflix originals, it is clear that inclusion has been a main goal for networks. UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report highlighted that it is still not enough. Despite representation in film improving more than the previous reports, people of colour and women are still underrepresented. Below is an info-graphic detailing the report’s findings.

In order for me to get an audience members’ opinions on the TV and films industry’s progress with diversity, I spoke to Letterboxd user Yumna. Letterboxd is a social network for film lovers and critics to share their opinions on the latest movies.

Do you think there’s more of an effort to have representation in Film compared to TV in recent years?

“I think overall there’s definitely a greater effort to have representation in film and TV. I feel the need for representation has grown tremendously, if not exponentially, over the past few years. Much of this could be attributed to the ‘Netflix generation’ and the huge demand this and other streaming services face due to its majority young/teenage viewers. I would say personally I’ve found greater representation in TV. Due to its longevity, viewers tend to build a greater relationship with characters and identify with some more than others. Series such “On My Block” and it’s BME/Latinx representation as well “One Day At A Time” for its LGBTQ representation are good examples. With film, I feel like there has been a greater urge to create films that represent and that are not made or centered around race such as “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” starring a WOC lead, Lana Condor. Recently, there is conversation around Jordan Peele’s “Us”, and how having a black family as the lead should not be considered a film about race, as opposed to “Get Out”.

Yet, sometimes I actually question the intentions of these producers and the effort to increase representation. Do they really want representation and diversity or is it just so that they don’t get ‘cancelled’? Nevertheless, representation has come a long way. However, I feel like there’s still a way to go and room for improvement for both film and TV.

If you had the chance to talk to film/tv producers, what would you suggest is the best way to include diversity and representation in their products?

“I think the best way to include diversity and representation is to move away from the stereotypes and even caricatures of certain personalities and identities. Too many times I’ve found that, for example, Muslim characters are always at one extreme or the other, quite literally. You have the extremist fundamentalist Muslim girl brought up in a strict family and then you have the liberal on-and-off hijabi who partakes in activities that go against her religion in the name of ‘freedom’. Others include the effeminate gay, the loud/aggressive black woman, the chola Latina woman and more. While it can be can be a form of satire/parody, it can make it difficult to identify with characters who simply don’t represent who we really are.

The best way to ensure diversity and representation is to hire a team that essentially represents the characters. If there were more LGBTQ, BAME, disabled etc. producers, editors, directors and writers, then undoubtedly there would be less of the stereotypes. Representation is not limited to what is portrayed on the screen. This includes the people behind the scenes.”

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We never freeze. #BlackPanther @EntertainmentWeekly

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Cast of Marvel’s Black Panther broke records and set the tone for the need to have more diverse films in all categories.

Whilst diversity is being displayed on the big screens and popular shows, that doesn’t mean it is enough representation. Audiences want to see themselves represented on screens and TV /film creators have a job to fulfill that. Overall Progress has been slow, often signalling people to create their own craft instead of having to relying on TV/film executives to profit from their ideas. Lack of diversity affects opportunity, prompting attentive consumers to demand for more minorities and women on our screens.

Meet Naima Ali, the editor hoping to inspire Muslim women through SAKINA magazine.

How many magazines for Muslim women that have gone mainstream do we know? Not enough. I spoke to the editor of SAKINA magazine, Naima Ali, who stated that growing up with magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Seventeen- “you, yourself, feel as if you don’t belong because you’re not represented on those platforms”. Therefore the creation of SAKINA Magazine was in hopes to give young Muslim women more of a platform for expression, a place to discuss their personal issues and inner thoughts.

SAKINA Magazine spring issue.

Naima Ali grew up in London, England and now resides in Malmö, Sweden. She’s a student studying international relations at Malmö University. Naima and her fellow editors started from scratch and came up with a vision. The creation of SAKINA magazine is a way of taking a proactive approach in what they believe it. Instead of dwelling on the past and questioning why mainstream magazines don’t feature Muslim women, they decided to create their own space for Muslim women. SAKINA is a word derived from the Quran and means “spirit of tranquility” and peace. With a compelling word like that as the name of the magazine, it invokes readers to understand what the concept of the magazine it.

Naima Ali holding up SAKINA Magazine.

The creation of the first issue took a lot of time and planning. Naima insisted that the magazine should be published differently from others. So instead of using a website or a blog, the group launched their magazine on a site called “ISSUU”. This is a interactive platform where you can upload magazines and flip through the pages as if it was a hard copy- exposing yourself to online communities. Anyone can access it. Naima describes the experience- “we thought that was really cool but it did take a lot planning, In-design and Photoshop. But regardless it was a fun experience. We would obviously want to try other things instead of limiting our issues to online.”

For the editors of the magazine, starting it from scratch not only meant needing skills required for different softwares but deeply thinking about what content to include. Therefore there was trials and tribulations to overcome in order to have a successful first issue. Learning the rudiments of a magazine meant understanding your audience and what they would like to read. Naima explained to me over the phone that the team wanted to make sure “it wasn’t a religious magazine” instead saying that “we wanted to give our viewpoints on various topics from a Islamic perspective”. That includes dividing the magazines into five categories: beauty, lifestyle: mental health, entertainment: arts and culture, fashion as well as interviewing influential people. Therefore the basis of the magazine is valued by what their consumers want to read.

Naima says that her and her team think to themselves “if we had the magazine growing up, what would we want it to include?” So that’s how they determine the content of the magazine. By touching upon topics that young Muslim women would want to know about so they can look at it and say “yes this is me, and i need this”. Overall it is important to “take inspiration from our audience and craft something that is as realistic as possible”. Currently the magazine only has one issue but the team said they would like to have a theme behind each issue in the future. Already drawing upon new ideas.

I asked Naima what makes SAKINA different from other upcoming magazines on the market. She replied that the main difference is that it is “entirely for Muslim women and we are sticking to a specific age group: 18 to 25”. As well as the demographic being for young women, Naima stressed on the importance of giving more representation to Muslim women of colour, especially black Muslim women. Saying “that is not to exclude anybody else, but we know in the media black Muslim women get the least amount of coverage”. This is essential as the magazine gives the readers a voice. Naima describes SAKINA magazine for their audience as a “safe space”, adding on that it’s “something that can make Muslim women feel like they belong considering most of the time they don’t feel included in society”. That being so, SAKINA is something that can “unite us all”.

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Happy muslim women’s day💕 photo: @ikramianism

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So what’s the next mission for the team behind the magazine? Personally for Naima, she writes in the mental health column and her goal is help their readers speak out about issues – “I want them to know that if they feel like they can’t get the help they need because of stigmas in their community, here in SAKINA we know what you’re going through, we understand so don’t hesitate to reach out to us”. For the magazine as a whole, the main goal is to continue making Muslim women feel great about themselves. So instead of feeling like young girls/women have to pick out a bigger mainstream magazines, they can pick out SAKINA instead and see that it caters towards them.