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London, UK
The Night School 2021 graduates showcase the manifestos The Brooklyn Brothers’ diversity-boosting education programme helped them to create

After a successful pilot of Night School, which saw 80% of the students securing paid employment, the graduating class of 2019/20 took the lead on this year’s curriculum, collaborating with creative agency The Brooklyn Brothers and guest experts across a wide range of fields to share their collective wisdom with this year’s budding creatives.

The free training and mentoring programme moved to a virtual format, which meant it was open to 18–25-year-olds across the UK. The six-part curriculum was designed to educate and empower young people, unlock their creative potential and open doors to a future career.

With only 15.3% of UK advertising agency employees coming from Black, Asian or minority backgrounds, there is a desperate need for greater diversity in creative industries. However, traditional internships are fit for only a select few. They are often unattainable for those with day jobs, or those without contacts in the industry.

Based on the belief that creativity should be open to everyone, The Night School programme addresses the imbalance in our industries with an opportunity to receive free training facilitated by guest tutors from a wide range of creative industry sectors, including music, fashion, journalism and film production.

The programme helped this year’s class plan careers and identified opportunities to make a genuine creative impact. Along the way each student also developed a personal manifesto that visually embodies their identity. 

On Wednesday 3rd November, the students debuted their manifestos in front of trade press representatives and special guests from the creative industries at a graduation event held at The Brooklyn Brothers’ Soho offices. Post-graduation, The Brooklyn Brothers will continue to work with graduating students, helping them to expand their networks and take the next step in their educations or careers.

Sadly we don't have the rights to publish those manifestos here, but if you seek them out you won't be disappointed.

Sam Botchey, Night School graduate and filmmaker says: “When I applied to Night School, I was passionate about the industry, but I really didn’t know what to expect. Now I’ve graduated I want to use my voice in the creative world. I’ve never done anything like Night School before and the programme has given me a new confidence and determination. I hope others get the chance to have the same experience.”

Will Sansom, head of strategy and night school coordinator at The Brooklyn Brothers, added: “Once again we were blown away by the talent, humility and collaborative spirit of our graduating class. They are the literal embodiment of the fresh thinking that can and should be fuelling the future of the creative industries – all they need is the opportunity.”

On the lookout for new, fresh and ambitious creative talent? If you have an opportunity that you feel a Night School grad would be a perfect fit for, email to be put in touch. 

Here’s a summary of each of the 2021 graduates:

Juliana Ogechi

Juliana is passionate about stories and particularly drawn to those that speak to the human experience. For her day job she is a junior creative at copywriting agency Sonder & Tell. On the side, she hosts and produces a podcast called No Shame In My Name where she asks her guests to share the stories and meanings behind their names. 

“I’ve learnt so much from Night School,” she says. “I loved that the brief was set with no reins on how I could achieve it. From the very beginning I’ve had the support and encouragement from the Brooklyn Brothers team – particularly my mentors Tito and George. They encouraged me to reach out to my network to bring my project to life in a personal and authentic way.”

“‘Be yourself,’ said Tito. ‘Keep it simple and honest,’ said George. I loved that advice and I hope that I’ve been able to honour it with integrity.”

Juliana’s manifesto ‘ripthereceipt' is a commentary about forgiveness and a personal account of her own struggles to forgive. Jacqueline Davies, a talented designer helped her to bring this vision to life. 

Saadadden Monajed

Saadadeen is “a proud West-Londoner” and recent Night School Graduate.

“Night School opened the door to a world to which I had little knowledge,” he says. “I remember having a conversation with Tito, ex-Night School student, who is now a junior strategist and rising star at The Brooklyn Brothers, when we were both at university about the creative industries. And it was with his encouragement that I applied to the program.”

Saadadeen’s highlight of Night School was his cohort. “Meeting each week (albeit virtually) and learning with and from my fellow Night-Schoolers was inspiring and injected the type of energy that made Zoom meetings not only bearable but engaging! Experiencing their final projects has forced me to rethink the parameters and purpose of my own creative endeavours.”

His manifesto film reflects on the neighbourhoods that his friends call home and what those places and communities mean to them.

Niha Z

Niha is a creative with a passion and desire to generate positive and sustainable change in both her professional and personal life.

In her free time, she enjoys incorporating and combining a love for history with graphic design and helping other women see their creative potential through the Creative Women’s Hub.

Niha’s manifesto was a series of her graphic designs and illustrations which are used to depict the cyclical nature of hardship and ease. “The world needs to be reminded that although times have been tough as of late, ease will always come as it always has in history,” she says.

She drew on my culture, religion and love for history in her designs. The title ‘Verily with Hardship comes ease’ is a Quranic quote. The rest of Niha’s designs showcase her British/Bengali heritage and passion for female empowerment.

Mariana Soares Goldsmith

“The most important lesson of Night School was understanding that I wasn’t a creative, a photographer nor an artist but that deep down I was a storyteller,” says Mariana. “I’ve learned so much on how to believe in who I am and develop my full creative self. During my time as a Night Schooler, I had my eye behind the viewfinder which allowed me to be present, to connect with myself and the world around me.

“By meeting amazing people, a whole new world of jobs and opportunities opened up . It’s given me an entirely different perspective of London’s creative industry. George and his crew believed in every single night schooler and that for us, the sky was the limit.” 

Cameron St Claire Aitcheson-Labarr and Rebekah Williams

Cameron describes themself as “a queer Black multidisciplinary artist who experiments with painting, photography, archives, film, and other mediums to explore and tell stories about the liminal space that BIPOC people inhabit while living in white supremacist societies.” 

For their manifesto, Cameron partnered with Rebekah, a freelance sociopolitical photographer, cultural events producer and creative whose work “seeks to celebrate Black culture and explore social issues surrounding the global majority in today's world, often focusing on the woman experience.” 

Through her community art and engagement work, Rebekah’s mission is to make the creative industry more diverse and inclusive, specifically by ensuring the arts is more available and accessible to young people from Black, Asian and non-white backgrounds.

In partnership, the pair combined poetry, archive footage, photography and new moving image to create a manifesto that explores the staggering number of deaths in the UK linked to air pollution, amongst themes of Black culture and an enduring history of white supremacy.

Gigi Gaspard

Gigi began Night School just concluding her first three years studying architecture, with what she describes as “a slightly rigid mindset approaching the creative world.”

As a singer songwriter, with some experience curating art exhibitions and events - and also reflecting on her passion for design - Gigi knew she had a deep passion for storytelling but struggled to find direction in how to maximize her creative voice. 

Her resulting manifesto focuses on the importance of fragility, something that is particularly nuanced from a black female perspective.

Muskaan Razdan

Final year media student and aspiring creative Muskaan moved to the UK in 2019 from India for a bachelor's degree, creative pursuits and fish and chips. Over the last few years, she’s explored several creative routes and decided that the advertising industry “feels like the right place”. When not painting or writing, she loves to hold candid conversations about mental health and find ways to make education accessible.

“This experience has helped me believe in my own power and creativity, and given me access to people who can help me cultivate itm” says Muskaan. “I am extremely grateful for this experience and would like to thank the entire Brooklyn Brothers team for their support.”

Her manifesto project combined her awareness of the issues that Covid-19 was causing in India with her passion for painting. She created an art auction platform to help raise funds, which had the added benefit of artists having a tangible value put on their creative output. 

Eden Ezinne Igwe

Eden Igwe is a 20 year old writer-filmmaker from South West London, in their final year of study at the University of St. Andrews, with current interests in music video, animation and above all independent black cinema.

Entering Night School with a degree of experience behind the camera, the programme strongly solidified Eden’s interest in the medium of moving picture. 

“Hearing from weekly speakers telling stories through graphic design, ad campaign production, writing and more, it became clear with each week of talks that making films fit the way my brain works - multiple sensory components all coming together to produce a singular narrative,” says Eden. “By the time we heard from professional director Joe Connor, it became more clear I had a strong desire to work on films far into the future.” 

Toyah Panton

Since Toyah was a young girl, she’s always found comfort in being alone with her thoughts. “There's something I enjoy about the world around me being silent but the world within me roaring with ideas and questions,” she says. “My inner voice is the driving force behind my poetry and through my own self reflections, I hope for others to be inspired to look within self too.”  
Outside of poetry, she’s always been interested in business. While she studied business at university, she wasn't too sure what a career after graduating would look like. “I had a brilliant mentor through the NS programme who provided me with exceptional support when I was job searching,” she says. “During the past seven months, I’ve been working as an innovation consultant - a role that enables me to explore my interests in both business and creativity.”  

Toyah describes her manifesto 'Black Joy' as “a sweet concoction of jazz and spoken word poetry (two things I love)”, presented in the form of a video montage. “When I look around me, black joy is waiting to be discovered everywhere…in the unspoken moments of the everyday, to memories within the mind. Black joy is past, present and future and is something to be shared and celebrated.”

Simran Sohanpal

Whilst studying Industrial Design at uni and landing UX/UI roles after graduating, Sim knew she wanted to pursue a career in the footwear design or the fashion world. Not having any experience or connection to this industry kept her from exploring any possibilities. “I also felt, as a woman wanting to jump into a male-dominated field, incredibly intimidated and out of my depth,” she says.

At Night School Sim decided to use her manifesto as a calling card for potential interviews. Through this, she was able to realise her abilities and creative skills. It is a portfolio of work showcasing the process behind the creation of the concept brand ‘Not Your Hypebae’, using sneaker design as a platform for conversations around women in streetwear/footwear culture.

Tife Mogaji-Williams

Third-year student studying marketing and psychology at the University of Sussex, when she graduates Tife wants to explore the world of technology, and particularly the creative applications of digital tools.

When she first joined the Night School, Tife was in the beginning of her second year not knowing what path or what direction she wanted to go in. “All I did know was that I had a passion for the arts and wanted to surround myself with creativity,” she says.

“Through Night School I was able to deepen my curiosities and discover multiple new things about myself. Night School gave me a voice and the confidence to broaden my horizons and try things I had never done before.”

Samuel Botchey Jr

Samuel’s passions are football, film and writing. He was playing semi pro football and coaching and when he heard about Night School, he was very interested in learning more about the creative industry and working with other creatives.

When Samuel applied to Night School, he was passionate about the industry but really didn’t know what to expect. “Now I’ve graduated I want to use my voice in the creative world,” he says. “I’ve never done anything like Night School before and the programme has given me a new confidence and determination. I hope others get the chance to have the same experience.”

Samuel’s manifesto is a complex combination of spoken word and filmmaking, interweaving themes from his home of West London, including the social implications of the Grenfell Tower disaster and struggles with overcoming creative procrastination. 

Other 2021 Night School Graduates include:
Tomisin Animashaun
Mope Akinyemi
Oluwadamini Ademola Solebo
Janice Obiri-Yeboah

Work from The Brooklyn Brothers