"You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do something incredible" - Interview to Ese Akpobi
I met Ese at the Fuck Being Humble event a few weeks ago. She was confident enough to take the microphone and talking about her amazing project at the end of the event. I have got so into her story and I decided to interview her for We Hate Pink zine. It’s so refreshing seeing a young talented woman that thinks big and cares about other people.
01. Ese, I am so excited to connect with you and share more of your story with our readers. To begin with, would you tell us why you started your project?
Loop Studios is a 3 month programme that connects Deaf young people (DYP) to Creative organisations. During the three phases the DYP will have the opportunity to teach creatives British Sign Language in return for Creative Masterclasses. Once both groups have had a chance to learn and share, they work collaboratively on a creative brief.
I started Loop Studios because I saw a lack of diversity in the creative Industries, particularly those physically disAbled. I also worked previously with DYP making the transition into employment and found there was no clear route for them to access creative opportunities. For the few people who were finding success, they were entering places of work that may not have been inclusive or had the relevant training to welcome diverse people. I wanted to create an organisation that equipped both the DYP and organisations with training to work together.
02. What is the meaning (or backstory) behind your name Loop Studios?
It took me a while to think of a name! I wanted something that was connected to the Deaf community, but wasn’t overt. Whilst buying a Brownie in Costa (best Brownie out there might I add), I noticed the symbol for an Induction Loop on the counter. For those not familiar with this, it is a sound system in which a loop of wire around an area in a building produces a signal received directly by hearing aids.
I loved the sound of the word Loop! I guess studios referrers to where creatives produce their work. And so combined we have Loop Studios!
03. Where did this desire to help these specific people come from?
In 2013 after college I took a gap year, and created a bucket list of things I wanted to learn and experience. On that list was to learn a language. By accident I had discovered British Sign Language (watching Holby City on BBC of course). I took an introductory course and fell in love with the language.
I continued learning and eventually started working with Deaf students in schools. Working with a group of Year 11’s I was finding that many of them were not adequately prepared for the world of work. Things like writing a CV, arranging an interpreter for interviews or even how to access their benefits without support were tricky for them.
During this period I also working closely with a young girl who wanted to pursue Fine Art. However, she had no work experience or a way to access opportunities. From this the desire to create a programme that connected Deaf young people to employment in the creative industries was born.
04. What is your vision moving forward? Where would you like to take the company from here?
Moving forward, I would like to run the programme in all major creative organisations in London. It would be amazing to see creatives involved in the programme also hiring Young Deaf Talent.
Part of the programme also involves learning British Sign Language. We hope that this is a seed to more people gaining qualifications in the language and connecting more with the vibrant Deaf Community we have here in London!
05. How do you want to be supported?
I would love some intros to people working for creative organisations (particularly HR and Diversity roles). I’d also be super grateful if you followed + shared our socials!
06. Share a quote/advice that you like the most.
‘Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.’ - Steve Jobs.
I love this quote because it reminds me that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do something incredible. It’s so much more important that you’re passionate, and driven to create the changes you want to see in the world.
East Londoner with a passionate for social change.
Currently a fellow on Year Here, an alternative course in Social Innovation, with a background in British Sign language communication work & interest in the creative world.
Founder of Loop Studios, a programme that connects Young Deaf talent to the creative Industries. Oh, and I collect elephant ornaments too.