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02 March 2010

Rachel Brown - Media

Rachel Brown - Media

Rachel Brown has previously worked at the BBC and Trinity Mirror but she now works as a freelance producer for GMTV. She has a BA in English, an MA in Literature and Culture and a Postgraduate in Broadcast Journalism. 

Her passion is acting and performing and she could happily read scripts all day. Rachel has run drama groups voluntarily for years within her church. At present she is also writing a series of children's books, based on her two-year old daughter.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

So many things: an air hostess, an English and Drama teacher and a talk show host. I was constantly recording my voice on my fictitious Book Club programme. I toyed with being an actress as I was always in the school plays and even attended the Anna Scher Theatre School for a while. My head teacher, Miss Ellis, told my mother that she'd never come across a pupil that was so thirsty for knowledge - and that sums me up nicely! I absolutely love learning and finding out about new things, people, policies…you name it.  I think that's why I've enjoyed working in the media.

How did you get involved in media?

My first 'media' work experience was at a London-based magazine called Pride. They had me running up and down Brixton getting teas and sandwiches. Totally fearless, as you are when you're 16, I spoke to someone who turned out to be one of the Editors. She told me I wouldn't get very far in the industry if I wasn't prepared to work my way up!
I used to practice my interviewing skills by speaking to the up and coming Gospel groups and wrote articles for British Gospel Magazine while I was at university. I did work experience with the legendary Dave P, who presented Choice FM's Gospel show on Sunday mornings. After my postgrad I got a place on the coveted BBC Trainee Assistant Producer Scheme, which gave me a good grounding in TV Production. I've been fortunate to work on flagship programmes like 'Crimewatch' and 'Newsround', as challenging as they were.

Who has most influenced your work in the media?

I'm not sure who has most influenced me, but I've always been inspired by other journalists: Channel 4's Jon Snow, Gillian Joseph at Sky, Andrew Marr, whose passion for political journalism is infectious, and Oprah Winfrey - for her sheer ubiquitousness!

What Christian story or biblical text motivates you in your work?

I always want to be excellent at what I do, and Daniel and Esther are characters that I relate to. They had God's favour upon them and Daniel was so brilliant at what he did that people could not fail to notice him and to draw on his strengths.
I'm also reminded of the parable of the talents, and that what God has given to us has to be worked out and worked through in our workplaces and communities.
I've had my fair share of challenges in the Media industry and Jeremiah 29:11 is a firm favourite.

Which movie character do you most relate to?

Having seen Avatar only recently I'd say the female lead, Neytiri - strong-minded, fiery and passionate!

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream for society. What is yours?

That people won't be judged by what family they come from or who they know, but for who they are and what they can do. I think the class divide is still an issue in Britain. We judge, stereotype and pigeon-hole people that we don't understand. We have networks and invisible clubs that certain people are not allowed to join. I'd like to see that disappear. I'd like to see the Church rising up and affecting every professional sphere possible.

What is the main hindrance to living the dream?

We're not actually good at coming out of our comfort zones, because it's just that - comfortable. We talk often about being a fair and 'tolerant' society and I think that's true to a degree, but I also think we can be quite narrow-minded and revert to stereotype when it's convenient. As the body of Christ, I think we need to shun such behaviour so that we really can meet people where they're at.

How does media shape society for the good?

Media is a fantastic way of unifying people and bringing stories to the public so that we really do have a shared experience and to some extent a shared knowledge base. When we consider the recent disaster in Haiti, we see that the media is a great unifier. We share pain, sorrow, joy and laughter without being there. Local radio is a prime example of having that shared experience. Where would we be without BBC or Sky News? Or the broadsheets or tabloids? Or the local media and magazines that carry all the human interest stories that eventually make it to the 10 o'clock news?

What's the greatest story you have ever been involved with?

Tackling knife crime in London. I spoke to the parents of Jimmy Mizen and they agreed to appear on the GMTV sofa.  I was humbled by their outlook on life, and their sense of peace in the face of tragedy.

What is the big issue you are facing in media?

I'm currently a freelancer at GMTV, and the big issue for everyone in production - especially if it's in news - is the lack of jobs and the potential merger between huge companies.

What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in media?

Be very specific about where you want to end up. 'I want to work in the media' isn't enough because you'll get lost. Be persistent, but more importantly, be excellent. Read, read, read! Above all, know your strengths and don't focus on your weaknesses. Unfortunately, the media can be an unforgiving place and bosses want people around them who make them feel confident, not nervous, so you've got to be adaptable and learn quickly.

What's your greatest fear and your greatest hope?

My greatest fear is that I won't get any work calls! But God is challenging me in this area.
My greatest hope is that I will pour out absolutely everything I have to give while I'm here on earth, and that I'll be able to leave some sort of legacy.

What single thing would most improve your area?

Hmm…if you mean area as in where I live - then definitely a Tesco Express!