Arts Emergency

Karla Marie Sweet

Writer and Radio Producer

In a recent conversation with my parents, my mother mentioned that it became a real challenge to provide me with the amount of books I needed as a child. My dad recalls how I was always getting into trouble for reading by torchlight when I was supposed to be asleep in bed. I think my love of reading as a child, and now as an adult, could be what led to my passion for television drama. I’ve always loved the feeling of escapism that being totally absorbed in a story can give you, whether that story is in a book or on the screen.

I realised at a very young age that creating my own stories would be something I’d always want to do and so I massively enjoyed English and creative writing classes at school. When I went to a performing arts school in America, after my family emigrated there for several years, I took daily dance and acting lessons and developed a love of theatre.

Now back in the UK and with over six years of media experience under my belt, storytelling is still very much at the forefront of everything I do. I studied a BA in Media and Sociology at Goldsmiths College during which time I got into presenting and producing my own radio shows through student and hospital radio, working as the station manager of Wired Radio Goldsmiths, writing a music blog, completing a design project for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and doing work experience for Manchester United TV and music website Popjustice.com.

After graduating, I worked in entertainment development at Sony Pictures and various indies before joining the BBC as a Production Trainee. During my traineeship, I enjoyed placements on Comic Relief and The One Show, where I learnt to shoot short films for the show. Working on Radio 4 Front Row was a real career highlight and gave me the opportunity to produce several live shows as well as interviews with the likes of James Blake, Giorgio Moroder and Alt-J.

I also worked in the script department of long running medical drama Casualty, working with writers and script editors to develop first drafts all the way through to the final shooting script. I worked alongside the Script Supervisor and Director on shoot days, which allowed me to see just how the writer’s vision is realised. It was during this time that I wrote my first play and submitted it to the Grin Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Competition, which I subsequently won. My short play The Blue Touch was staged over three nights in June 2014. Since then I’ve been longlisted for BBC Writersroom, Old Vic New Voices and Old Vic 12. I also won an Ideastap brief, which resulted in six months of script mentoring with a Development Executive at Cowboy Films.

My final Production Trainee Scheme placement was at Radio 1 and 1Xtra, where I worked on specialist shows and co-produced Fire in the Booth. I’ve since stayed on as an Assistant Producer and I’ve been lucky enough to work on a range of shows including Trevor Nelson, Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Mistajam, Friction, Diplo and Charlie Sloth. Since going freelance, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Asian Network and 6 Music as well as spending ten months working as a Continuity Announcer for Channel 4.

Writing is still a huge passion of mine and I’m currently developing a pilot with ITV Studios and co-developing a drama series for Lime Pictures.

As an ethnic minority woman from a low income background, sharing what privilege I have is massively important to me. Volunteering for Arts Emergency seems like the perfect way to pass that on and I hope that sharing my broad range of experiences with a young creative mind will enable them to reach their full potential – no matter what obstacles may appear to stand in their way.

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