Creating change is not just only for world leaders, it can be for someone like you.
One person who is doing this is Remani Love, an up and coming powerhouse who has a passion for social change and uses her creative flair to do so. She released her BBC documentary, featuring Sir Lenny Henry, that posed the question ‘Is higher education failing black British students?’.
Having experienced the lack of support during university she felt that “Someone needs to tell the truth.” ‘Uni’ tells of her battles with mental health at university. It explores the ways that black students struggle with the very traditional curriculum, and how there are no practical tools for young people who may have to deal with unsupportive educators and institutional racism.
She dealt with the pressures of a course that was full-on and what she describes as “high intensity”, to make matters worse she had a Ph.D. student who supervised lessons and questioned her ability and devalued her attempts on the course. Remani started believing him and tried to prove herself which resulted in her being burnt out and overworked. By the final submission date she had depression, anxiety and regular panic attacks.
“I wasn’t getting out of bed”.
Nevertheless Remani rose from the ashes and her experience birthed the topic of her first film love doc, ‘how black women love themselves?’. Not all her educators were unhelpful; she recalls having a personal tutor who wouldn’t let her quit. On numerous occasions he refused her request to step down from the course and showed her how much he believed in her.
Currently in the UK, Black British students are 1.5 times more likely to drop out of university and experience higher cultural and financial pressures. This is why these conversations are so timely and needed. Statistics also show 56% of black students are less likely to come out of uni with a 2.1 or 1st even if they come with the same A-level grades as their white nation counterparts.
“So clearly something is going on there”.
Remani says “I’m the lucky one; if you look at the stats for drop-outs or student suicide, which is on the rise. It’s not a joke at all, I don’t think universities are taking responsibility for the well being of these young people”.
Remani is setting the pace for filmmakers, showing her peers that it’s possible!
It’s no secret that conversations like this should be had by people at all levels of influence in the educational system. Remani set out to make this conversation to be had on a larger platform, the film wasn’t enough. A true testament of how filmmakers should treat the stories that they present to audiences.
“I’m really passionate about intergenerational discussions, when I have events I love bringing older and younger people together. Because we can all learn something from each other. It was important to have black academics who had gone through the system themselves. People who are more qualified to talk about the experiences of Black British students.
Being a teacher herself she advises those who want to get into the creative fields to “just do it”. “One thing I’d say is to go with your gut. I worked in finance for three years and I hated the job. There was a point that I was premiering my film and they wouldn’t give me a day off, so I just quit”.
After her bold move she admitted that she struggled, but moved into teaching for the flexibility it gave her. Remani also believes you can do both, having a traditional job as well as the creative side hustle. “I think creatives have this mindset that you’re a sell-out if you have a full-time job. They attach to this struggle identity,”. She credits the ability to balance both by knowing her purpose.
The secret to these projects and discussions which she wants to continue having at campuses across the UK is that she cares. “Whenever I make films I really care about people. So I make the film as a calling card but I always make sure I do workshops, discussions and events because I actually want to impact the people that it affects. I don’t like to make films about it and move on, these are actually things I’ve been through”.
It’s clear that there is passion in everything she intends on producing, having filmmakers close to projects as much as Remani is can only push the boundaries of what film will look like. Films that facilitate conversation for social change can be the way forward and the possibilities are endless.
Watch out for more upcoming events held by Remani and if you have a great idea or project that needs funding go check us out.