A degree in television production from BU has helped Rianna Gayle to forge a career working on comedy and entertainment shows across some of the UK’s biggest channels.
Having set her sights on a career in television while still at school, Rianna was advised by a teacher to apply to Bournemouth University due to its reputation in media training. Having been accepted, she embarked on the three-year degree programme and made the most of every opportunity to develop skills and experience – from the course itself to working on the student-run TV channel and taking up short placements as a runner with the BBC.
Conscious of the importance of building industry contacts, Rianna went out of her way to take up work experience whenever she could. She said: “While the degree gives you an understanding of the industry and important skills, practical experiences help to bolster your CV and enable you to start meeting people who are working in the industry. I didn’t have any previous contacts, so this was invaluable. As well as the short placements with the BBC, I made the most of having a car while at university to drive to assignments where I could work as a runner – even if it was just for a day. By the time I’d finished my degree I had about six months’ worth of experience which gave me a CV to show to future employers. It meant making small sacrifices at the time but was really worthwhile in the long run.”
After graduating, Rianna took on other runner roles alongside part-time jobs in hospitality, to further build up her CV. She said: “The industry largely works on short-term contracts, so you need to be able to manage your own schedule and commitments and be okay with the uncertainty. One piece of advice my course tutors gave me, which has stuck with me, is to save a third of your wages when you’re working to help cover any gaps once the contract ends. It certainly forces you to become more resilient.
“When starting out, you may also feel that the work you’re doing is beneath your skillset, but my advice is to make the most of it and be the bright, positive person on set who is there to make other people’s lives easier. If that means making tea and coffee, then do it, and ask what else you can do to help. You want to make the best possible impression as you build your network.”
Rianna soon moved from runner roles, including a stint with ITV’s The Voice Kids, to research roles including a contract for a Sky Comedy panel show where she was responsible for sourcing props and locations. She is currently working as a senior researcher for Fulwell 73 Productions, focusing on a children’s history and science show.
Rianna said: “As I have progressed through to more senior roles, I have learnt to become more self-sufficient and to trust my judgment. Now, if I am sourcing props or experts for a programme, I have the confidence to provide just one or two options and to give my recommendation, rather than come back with lots of options in a bid to cover any eventuality.”
After building her credentials as a researcher, Rianna’s next aim is to work as an assistant producer. In the meantime, she is helping to support the next generation of media creatives as a mentor on BU’s alumni mentoring programme. She said: “I am keen to support those coming through and hopefully I can pass on some tips and advice that will help them to make the most of those first few years out of university.”