Reggie Yates: From Acting to Producing and Directing
Chloe Chambers Grant, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton
Outstanding actor and self-proclaimed director and producer Reggie Yates talks us through his venture from reading script to creating it himself. Through the launch of his first book Unseen: My Journey, he aims to show people from all walks of life the untold stories of those who are commonly overlooked.
Reggie Yates, who was “thrust into the world” of entertainment at the young age of 8, had a starring role on Desmond’s, a British sitcom. However, years later he explained how he knew this wasn’t the direction he wanted to take.
After taking a step back and reconsidering his career choices, Yates began questioning the stereotypes he was playing. Usually portrayed as “a black man by a white director”, he decided that he could make positive changes and differences through directing and producing himself.
During his talk he made it clear that he is not a journalist, instead calling himself an “inquisitive storyteller”. This can be seen through the content and style of his work. He states that he is “able to reflect on what he cares about” and explore that through the production of his documentaries.
Upon listening to him speak about the importance of his film making, it becomes obvious that for Reggie, playing a role on television cannot compare to accomplishment and satisfaction of creating his own work.
Through his emergence in the television industry, Reggie found himself with the necessary tools and skillset to start his directing and producing. He explained that “the main focus of my films is to allow my audience to ask questions and create their own opinions on a certain topic”. Through this he began to share with the audience his favourite production, Life and Death in Chicago.
“It was an organic story that unfolded around me.”
Whilst surrounded by tragic and heart-breaking circumstances in Chicago, he had to try his best to stay objective to portray an authentic account of the city. Reggie believes this is the key attribute of a producer as it gives the film its value.
Switching to factual television production has meant that his content can “push for change” and he hopes that it can also “create change.” Whilst listening to his talk about filmmaking you can hear the passion and determination in his tone.
With most of the audience being film students, Reggie Yates allows insight into how his sudden career change can be achieved by anyone with drive and motivation to push for change.
One of the biggest lessons Yates learned through his career from being an actor to producing and directing his own films is understanding the power of self-belief.
“You may get knocked down, told you’re not good enough but you just have to keep persevering and pushing yourself to go further. Once you believe that you have the power to create, the power to do good and make a change, there is nothing stopping you from reaching your goals.”