24 Nov Broadcaster, Writer And Actor Adil Ray Visits Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre (The NCS) For A Student Led Interview
On 14th November we were delighted to welcome Adil Ray to The NCS to speak to students about his life and career. After introducing himself he spent half an hour in discussion with Year 13 student Iram who asked questions covering his journey to success, the state of broadcasting, the inception of his character ‘community leader’ Mr Khan (from BBC One’s “Citizen Khan”) and representations in the media.
“I think for all of you in this room now you will probably become the most influential and most important people that will form the future of Britain. That’s an incredible responsibility to have but it’s also incredibly exciting. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll all have a contribution to make. I think that’s an important way to look at things.”
Adil shared with our students the steps he took to become a radio broadcaster and how that led to him writing comedy and eventually acting in shows that he co-wrote such as ‘Citizen Khan’ to the Channel 4 drama ‘Ackley Bridge.’.
“I used to sit on the bus and dream of being an actor. Cricket was a real big passion of mine, I used to dream of playing cricket. I think it’s really important that we allow ourselves to dream. Have the biggest dreams possible.”
He went on to share his three golden rules of making a dream into a reality. It was sound advice. Dream high, be honest with yourself of the reality of a dream and finally, “just do it,” adding the last part was what most people don’t actually do. He spoke of his mother’s acceptance of him following a passion for radio broadcasting so long as he earned a degree first. He took a course in marketing, achieved his degree and after graduating gave his mum the diploma and said that he was now going to pursue radio.
After some work in local radio he was offered a job at the BBC’s new Asian Network which allowed him to action another important element of pursuing dreams, which he shared with our students; build relationships in a circle you’re not quite used too.
He recalled emailing the head of BBC Three, Danny Cohen, saying he wanted to do some comedy. He was invited to a meeting which he didn’t think was particularly successful at the time, but the fact he met people there and started to build relationships led to him getting the opportunity to work on a sketch show months later. When the chance to develop one of the characters he created for this show into a wider sitcom was raised, Danny Cohen had become the controller of BBC One. That original email had built a relationship that led to Citizen Khan being commissioned on a mainstream channel.
“If you’re going to create something in the creative world I think the best you can expect is that it creates debate and discourse and that it makes people think.”
A lot of the interview revolved around Citizen Khan. Questions ranged from reaction to the show, humanising Mr Khan for a wide audience and the responsibility of representing the muslim faith on a mainstream channel. It was an insight into the highs and lows of breaking walls in the media, something that he initially struggled with but soon realised was leading to important and diverse discussions in the country.
“You can make a joke about anything so long as the intention is right. Our intention was to just make people laugh. Above that it was to bring communities together, to find a universal thing that we can enjoy.”
He ended with some student questions. A great piece of advice he had to anyone wanting to act but who couldn’t find a part that represented them, was simply to write their own part as he had done. Something which widely amounts to ‘make your own opportunities’. He ended by going back to the importance of dreaming.
Everyone at The NCS would like to thank Adil for taking the time to visit and take part in this interview. Below you can read some student views of the experience.
The Student View
``Having the opportunity to interview and personally speak to Adil Ray was incredibly uplifting and enjoyable. His words of encouragement were to work towards your dream daily, to ensure it materialises into reality, which resonates and reinforces the aspirational atmosphere cultivated here at The NCS. It was very special to have met such a well known figure.`` - Iram
``Adil Ray gave an informative and witty talk about his life and career to the NCS Year 12s which was extremely inspirational - especially for me as pursuing a career in the performing industry is something I might want to do. Mr Ray also emphasised greatly how having a dream is a fantastic thing and if you're determined about it, it will happen.``