Lack of diversity in the creative industry | What Romany, founder of Rare Select Models, is doing to be a champion of change

The creative industry. An industry that is full of talent, inspiration and design. You would think that an industry full of endless influences would have a diverse range of employees but unfortunately this isn’t the case.  Only 11.4% of industry jobs are filled with black, Asian and ethnic minority individuals where 11.5% of creative directors being women. This is not a surprise as the creative industry has been scrutinised for the lack of visibility and diversity across the board. Forced to confront white-washed standards of what both beauty and corporate environments look like, long overdue conversations are starting to happen. Black women in particular earn the lowest salaries out of all the groups and have the least amount of visibility. I interviewed Romany Francesca, founder of Rare Select Models, on my ‘Date with Diversity’ podcast where she revealed the lack of diversity behind the scenes.

Romany started her modelling agency in 2017 where her brand ethos focuses on appreciating and celebrating diversity. She studied Media Communications at UAL and got involved with many shoots as she was a budding photographer. She noticed when she was on shoots that all the models looked a certain way and fitted a particular beauty standard. Romany questioned why this was the case and felt that there needed to be more representation; if brands and companies are trying to sell products to a somewhat diverse society, why weren’t those individuals seen in their campaigns? This then led to Romany hoping to bridge the gap between brands and diverse models, providing the opportunity for people who didn’t “fit the mould” to have a chance of fulfilling their dreams. Not only does she choose models of different skin tones but also body types and sexualities. Romany explained that her mum, who is a lawyer, always told her the power her voice has and how she can change the world. She also explored why she refrained from using her first name when speaking to new people and instead introduced herself as “Francesca”. People with ethnic sounding names are less likely to get a response so Romany feared that she wouldn’t be taken seriously. To hear her full story and entrepreneurship journey, watch/listen to her experience on Youtube and streaming platforms.

It often feels that people from minority backgrounds have to fight their way into spaces as the opportunities to be seen and heard are rare. Black women are not taken seriously and have to prove that they are worthy of starting their business or working in a creative environment. It can be extremely draining and soul destroying when your work or potential isn’t sought after. However, with all the struggles and barriers, change is happening slowly. There are more conversations around diversity and how to be more inclusive, especially in an industry that feeds off creativity. Always remember that if you are from a minority background, you bring value and unique perspectives that should be celebrated and not discredited. If you feel that you need more support in your career journey, whether you aspire to work in the creative industry or not, visit our dedicated diversity and underrepresented groups KEATS page to find out more about what opportunities you can get involved in.