Less than a month after starting his dream job as a Sky Comedy Development Assistant, 26 year old Jarrod Ball was given ownership of an exciting project in an Executive Producer capacity on a series of Shorts for the channel. Jarrod is now working in a role he never would have believed he would be able to access, just 18 months after joining the MYP scheme which was set to change his life forever. He says he is no longer worried about having to grow old in a job he doesn’t care about and feels extremely fortunate to have been able to close the door on the bleak days of low income and insecurity which negativity impacted his mental health.
How would you describe the challenges in your life prior to discovering the MAMA Youth Project?
I had just moved to London with what little savings I had. I’d previously worked in HR to save up money, a job I had zero love for and was terrified I’d end up trapped in. I had also worked abroad as an actor for a few years before HR and really wanted to start establishing a career in something I loved doing.
Initially, I moved to London to pursue acting but not having a lot of money and wanting to financially support myself instead of adding an extra financial burden on my family, I took the very first jobs I could get.
I found myself working mornings ushering at a theatre, sleeping a few hours during the day and then working 7pm until 3am at a Cocktail bar in Peckham. Having to work for low pay and anti-social hours did make it extremely hard to focus on finding a career and really affected my mental health.
What were your career expectations at that time?
I never expected to find myself in a job where I could even potentially plan to one day afford a mortgage, so I would say my expectations were pretty low.
How did you find out about MAMA Youth, and what was your experience like?
Whilst interviewing for the Channel 4 Researcher Trainee Scheme, I found out about the MAMA Youth Project and that’s when things really started to happen for me. The training itself was intensive, challenging and rewarding and was followed by an amazing placement in Sky Comedy working with the Commissioning Editors. I didn’t have any previous knowledge of the development or commissioning process, so it was fascinating to learn about and has become an integral part of my career journey.
How long did it take you to secure your first role in the industry?
I managed to secure my first role whilst still on my placement! I spoke with a lovely Production Manager at Sky who helped me get a Production Assistant role on Code 404.
What is your current role and what does it involve?
Currently I’m a Development Assistant with Sky Comedy. My job mainly focuses around supporting the commissioning editors, reading script submissions to give notes and feedback on whether they are suitable for Sky. As I get more settled into the role, I will also be tasked with finding new talent, producing Sky Shorts and having a role in both commissioning and development for future Sky Comedies.
What would you say to others who find themselves struggling to start a broadcast media career?
Apply for MAMA Youth! Definitely involve yourself with a scheme. I had literally zero contacts in TV before my MYP training. Also don’t be afraid to email people and once you’ve made a professional relationship, sustain it. Even if they don’t currently have a position available for you, keep emailing them once a month or so, just to let them know what you’re up to and show them you have a genuine interest.
MAMA Youth has totally changed the direction of my life and given me a career path in a profession I am passionate for. I used to be really worried about growing old in a job I didn’t care about and now (as long as everything doesn’t go wrong!) I’m pretty sure that’s no longer a risk.
MAMA Youth gives people who really want to improve their lives a chance to, but it isn’t an easy hand out to anyone who wants a job in TV. The scheme genuinely pushes you to give it your all and show how truly committed you are.
There is incredible on-going support for Alumni from the MAMA Youth team too and the career advice from the Talent Manager, Tors Sorby has been utterly invaluable for me.
How do your friends and family feel about your success?
I think they’re enjoying it as much as I am! My family is over the moon, my mum’s really loving telling everyone she’s ever met about my job. She no longer gets to tell me about how great her friend’s kids are doing, so that’s a relief too!