Amy grew up with music lessons at the insistence of her mum who wanted her to have more than her own childhood in Vietnam. However, it can be unusual for children from Asian families to pursue creative careers due to a disconnected understanding, such as the stereotyped image of a struggling musician. A part of her family simply didn’t understand how to have a career in the creative industries, and even Amy herself didn’t know what opportunities were available or how to instigate them.
After taking music A Level and spending time with others who shared her passion, the desire to take a creative path became even stronger. Amy continued to explore and realised she could learn even more about the different aspects in music and decided to pursue a Sound Design Technology Degree at the University of Hertfordshire.
Had you experienced many challenges or barriers up to this point?
I grew up in rural Wales where I was one of few Chinese kids in school. I think there was always a split in how I was at home and at school but I don't think I ever saw this as a diversity issue until I was older. I was very shy as a child and this followed me later in life and my self-confidence became a big barrier for me. It was easy to overthink and feel like I wasn’t doing something right. After leaving education, I don’t think my family completely understood that it wasn’t easy to get a creative job straight out of graduation and that freelancing/temporary contracts were the norm.
How did you find out about the MAMA Youth Project training scheme?
I applied for the full training after hearing about it through twitter but ended up taking the 4 week Digital Media course last summer. The course included the placement at Sky and a chance to experience many of the different aspects of life working in broadcast media. It was amazing to get the chance to go on shoots and although the course was intensive it gave a great opportunity to get an insightful overview of the industry as well as a solid understanding of the production process which I know I will continue to draw upon throughout my career.
How did MAMA Youth change you?
It gave me more confidence while giving me further skills to improve myself. It taught me to retain my values at all costs and above all that I do have value and how best to demonstrate that to what can be a harsh industry at times. MAMA Youth ensured the perfect environment for me to create and contribute to a bigger picture. I really enjoyed this time and found great friends that will stay with me in the future. MAMA Youth has impacted my journey by providing the encouragement to continue down this creative path and to know there are others out there supporting you makes you continue pursuing what you’re passionate about.
How long did it take you to secure your first role in the industry?
I finished my placement in August and continued applying for roles, and in September I started my full-time position at BBH. This role allows me to work with passionate and talented people and with a variety of content. BBH goes back years in the advertising industry, they have an ethos of being a Black Sheep for creative ideas while valuing quality, exactly how I feel creative work should be done.
What do you do day to day in your role?
I’m assisting the in-house music supervisors and producers with music and brands for Advertising campaigns and legal licensing.We need to choose music to fit a creative brief and there’s a lot of research involved ensuring it hasn’t been used before in a conflicting manner and who owns the music. I also assist The Most Radicalist Music blog in providing a platform for emerging artists.
I spend an enormous amount of time listening to music to stay updated and to deliver a curated music search. It may not be everyone’s idea of fun but it is for me!
What advice would you give to other young people in a similar position?
Try anything once and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember people are often more forgiving than you think. Don’t be too shy, I still find networking hard but it’s important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone from time to time. It’s important to be mentally healthy and not to give in to feeling over pressured by the fluid nature of the industry. Always keep trying and sometimes the first thing you do won’t work out, there’s always the next time.
How important is MAMA Youth as a charity?
The magnitude of the whole diversity issue within the industry is so frustrating and MAMA Youth is still the most inclusive environment I’ve been in, it’s where I’ve felt most comfortable. There is a cultural conversation that just doesn’t have to happen like it often does elsewhere. I’m really fortunate because my current boss is fully aware of how difficult it can be for women within the industry but I think sometimes it’s hard for others to find people they identify with who will support what is needed. Increased diversity is still something that needs to be addressed and because of MAMA Youth further down the line I want to help with that too. When I first worked in the media it was a struggle, it felt so corporate and awkward, like you needed to be a certain way even though no one tells you to be a certain way.
MAMA Youth is important because they want to break those unwritten rules by showing both trainees and businesses how unjustified and restrictive these unspoken behaviours actually are.
Has your family’s view of your career choices changed since your training with the MAMA Youth Project?
Yes, my family’s views have always been changing ever since I decided to pursue this career path. MAMA Youth’s training has added value and supported my decision and in turn further helped my family understand what my job entails and that they don’t need to be afraid for me. There will always be some hurdles but knowing I have the support and options to continue overcoming challenges and keep persevering in the industry is what’s important. I hope in the future more Asian families will learn more about careers in the creative industry and make sure their children know they can succeed if they want to.