Kiran on Race

Hear from Acting for Stage and Screen, Kiran, about Race.

Acting for Stage and Screen student, Kiran

My name is Kiran Ali, I am in my final year studying BA (Hons) Acting for Stage & Screen at Staffordshire University. I was born in Hall Green North in Birmingham and have lived there my whole life.

I am neurodivergent and British-Pakistani. I realised I could consider myself as diverse and others can see me as diverse when I was in college, as my lecturer said that although he saw students of colour in our year group, there was still a lack of diversity in my class. He said that we should not settle for one or two people of colour in a room, but to cultivate a vibrant, blossoming diverse community where they are welcome, accepted and can play the parts they want to as well as the roles that were written for them.

When I was applying for universities after completing my training at Stratford-upon-Avon College, my former tutor and co-worker, Georgie Wood, recommended Staffordshire, which she is an alumna of. I applied to Staffordshire after the UCAS deadline and received an interview/audition workshop in March 2021.

Connecting with students on my course has been a real challenge. I went from a secondary school that was majority black and Asian, to my college where my class was not as diverse as it could have been, but I still felt close to home and had classmates of a similar background. Now at university I am the only woman of colour on my course.

There are times I feel disconnected and that I don’t fit into the group culture and environment, which becomes harder as I am also neurodivergent and this makes me introverted, posing more barriers for me to overcome, but I remind myself of how unique I am and that’s something to celebrate, it’s the differences that makes all of us special.

It has been particularly comforting and accepting that my lecturers and course leaders want to learn from me so they can offer support to me and students in the future.

I like the campus, it’s small, everything is within walking distance - the campus isn’t too expansive where you can get lost. The cuisines offer food and drink from around the world, and it tastes delicious. When I’m walking to the Performance Centre, the atmosphere is tranquil but not eerie, the walkways are clean. Everyone is lovely, accepting, students from other courses make everyone feel seen, it’s easy to come across opportunities for student films, placements and jobs, no matter what your background is.

The campus is in a very diverse city of black, Asian, European people who work hard to make a living in hardened financial times. Stoke-on-Trent is inclusive to its citizens, and it is possible to find a community to live in where anyone may feel at home.

In the three years I’ve studied here, I have noticed the diversity has increased and the university does provide an inclusive community. Staffordshire’s global opportunities department are amazing at the excursions they offer, and more students should get involved.

I strongly encourage others to learn about all diverse backgrounds if they can. It’s so important to hold space for diverse people, accept them for who they are without changing them, know the challenges they face may be deeper and prolonged than others, but lift them up, motivate them, don’t marginalise, or pity them. Usually, the hardships they face are caused by the cultures that have evolved within their backgrounds combined with the judgements and discriminations of outsiders.

In relation to me, learning about Partition, why Pakistanis immigrated to the UK, Bollywood cinema, books written by Asian people about their experiences. Riz Ahmed is a British-Pakistani actor open about the lack of diversity in the performing arts industry and even coined his own test to assess the representation of Asian people in the media.

We should not settle for one or two people of colour in a room, but to cultivate a vibrant, blossoming diverse community where they are welcome, accepted and can play the parts they want to


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