If you’d told me at 15 years old, that at 16 I would start an independent record label and sell it to a major record company within 8 years, I wouldn’t have believed you. First of all, as a brown kid growing up in Australia to an Indonesian Father and white Australian mother, we were the lowest you could consider lower middle class (the only reason my parents were able to afford a deposit for a small home in 1994, was because my Dad won the lotto. The same week as 40 other people, true story.), my parents didn’t work in the entertainment industry and had a personal network of 0 that could help me with my music industry ambitions.
My best friend and I started the label with $500 each, he got his money from working weekend shifts at McDonalds and I got mine from odd jobs. The main reason we were able to start a label at such a young age, with no financial support from our parents was because we were lucky enough to be born in Australia – where public education is properly funded and healthcare is free, for everyone. No health emergency had the potential to bankrupt our families, so we were free to focus on our passion.
After selling our label to EMI, I moved to the US to be in the land of opportunity! But soon found out that it’s really only the land of opportunity for the privileged few. I learned that in order to have healthcare you needed a good job, a job that was usually reserved for those with college degrees or personal networks associated with their families or school ties. I learned that in order to get internships at record companies and film studios, you needed to be enrolled in colleges they had partnerships with.
This really confused me at first, because these are creative jobs and they’re jobs that you learn from experience. But how do you get that experience if you’re not allowed in the building for an internship because you don’t have the means to attend a name-brand college and put yourself into 6 figures worth of debt?
But what I really learned though was that the “college degree” for internships was really a way for companies to filter and segregate who gets access. It’s a discriminatory practice that excludes people from low-income and disenfranchised communities, and let’s be honest usually people of color, from having the opportunity to work at the companies that are benefiting financially from Artists from those same communities.
So with a pretty hefty chip on my shoulder, Creative Futures Collective was born with our mission to unearth the next generation of creative industry leaders from disenfranchised communities and empower them to break cycles of systemic inequality.
We do this through a 12-course education program, access to a mentor network with executives from companies such as Apple, Google, Red Bull, Netflix etc and a guaranteed paid “Futureship” (our name for an internship, because our Fellow’s weren’t eligible for the “college student” only internships we created our own) with creative industry companies such as LA Lakers, Spotify and the World Surf League among others.
Since launching our 12-course program in 2019, we’ve graduated over 30 Los Angeles-based Fellows and 70% have now found full-time employment. Fellows, like Francine – who unfortunately passed recently, Rest In Paradise – who was living in a homeless shelter with her 11-year-old daughter when she came into our program and 3 months later was working full time at the World Surf League as an associate producer or Josh who had a unique skill set in a recording studio but was straddled with student debt and lack of opportunity, after graduating our program and internship with grammy nominated producer John Feldmann (Blink 182, 5 Seconds Of Summer) he was hired full time as his assistant studio engineer.
And now we’re looking for the next generation of leaders from across the country. In 2021, we’re scaling from 10 Fellows per cohort to 100 Fellows across LA, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and first nations people from Najavo Nation and Australia.
So what are we looking for, you ask?
We’re looking for unique individuals with a lived experience that gives them interesting insights and perspectives. We’re looking to lift up those that may have been labeled as outcasts, felt forgotten or overlooked. We’re looking for individuals that have a strong sense of character, that display empathy and compassion but bring with them hustle and resilience. We’re looking for creatives that are oozing with talent, but lacking the opportunity.
We want to support those that want to support others in their communities by paying it forward.
We’re looking for Fellows that want to show up, put in the work and become next-generation leaders that will break cycles of systemic inequality. We’re looking for YOU!
Are you awaiting your opportunity to break into the creative industries and be part of the changing tide?
Apply here, we’d love to hear from you – https://creativefuturescollective.com/for-fellows