Extraordinary services to the creative industries have earned Bisoye Babalola prestigious recognition in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2019.
The Media and Communication graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her tireless work supporting independent film-makers and young people interested in creative careers.
By founding Nights Global, a self-funded pop-up cinema, Bisoye has given film-makers and visual artists a platform to screen their work to new audiences.
Since 2015, she has established a small team that has screened the work of 76 directors over nine seasons. The exposure has earned several projects places at international film festivals and another became a UK blockbuster featured on Netflix. Recently, she has hosted screenings in France and developed a magazine.
“The award came as a big shock, but it’s an amazing feeling. It’s definitely a major career highlight for me and my mum is so proud,” said the 27-year-old from South West London.
“It shows other people what’s achievable. That you don’t have to be famous to become successful.”
Bisoye is also boosting the skills of young entrepreneurs since connecting with schools in South and East London since 2017.
She connects her creative industries contacts with young people, leading to valuable careers advice and work experience, while also running half-term clubs inviting students to workshops led by industry experts.
She said: “Representation is so important. When I was growing up as a second-generation British Nigerian woman, I was lucky to have strong and encouraging role models in my mum and aunts. But not all black and minority ethnic people are encouraged into creative careers by their families, as they’re not considered to be a ‘safe’ or profitable choice.
“Diverse representation is also seriously lacking in the media. Even today we don’t see many successful black women on television and mainstream media mostly represents black men through gangs and knife crime. People need to see themselves in order to aspire and it’s time we changed the narrative.”
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According to Bisoye, her time at DMU played a significant role in shaping her future and the way she views the media.
“My course was a good mix of theoretical and practical work, with modules ranging from insights into radio to media rhetoric and discourse. My lecturers were super supportive and I had access to good work experience opportunities,” she said.
“University is about what you learn as a person too. It taught me presentation, communication and time-keeping skills, all of which you need to move forward in the world.
“Most importantly it gives you independence and I can confidently say that DMU has helped to mould me into the person that I’m becoming.”
As well as the support from her family and friends, Bisoye believes her success is also a product of her own entrepreneurial spirit.
She added: “The biggest thing life has taught me is to never give up and remember that God will never let me fail. It would have been so easy to do so, as what I do is tough and requires a lot of negotiating and hustling, as well as drive and determination.
"I love the independence though and it's really important to me to show the younger generation that anything is possible, as well as to continue to make my mum proud of me."
Posted on Friday 8th March 2019