Women in the Media Industry: Jayne Beaumont
The media industry has always been male dominated, but we’re seeing significant improvements in recent days. We spoke with Jayne Beaumont about her experience in the media industry
Jayne started her journey into the media industry when she landed her first job at BBC wales. It was at the BBC where she learned and progressed to be a television and radio presenter. She went on to be in various plays and dance troupes and has found her new passion to be life coaching.Jayne shares her insights into the media industry and the difficulties career changes and demands brings with it.
When and how did you first get involved in the arts and media industry?
Really I grew up in it, I grew up in South Wales in the welsh valleys actually and my family was very involved in musicals and had lots of aunties that use to sing in the south pacific.
Then I went to dancing class from the age of 4 and we had a concert every year, when I was 12 I joined a youth club, the drama teacher asked me to join the drama class and from then on I did lots of plays in various theatres such as the National Theatre, then went into Drama school. Most of my experience came from the community I grew up in. To carry on then professionally at that time was not really possible, you couldn’t get really far if you didn’t speak fluent welsh.
After drama school I decided I didn’t want to be an actress – So I joined the BBC in wales but worked on the only program that allowed me to work without the welsh language, Good Morning Wales! I then trained as a radio reporter with them. So that got me interested in media and the news.
Then I wanted to go travelling, I got on planes and went with a dance troupe to Beirut. I then worked with The Black Theatre of Prague, which was a mime company. Then I trained in New York at a dance company as I loved dance. Then went back to the Bahrain government for ministry information, in places like that you can rise up quite quickly. I used to do breakfast shows and edit all my own news on radio!
There was no digital we used to pull the news off the APY’s and edit and go straight into the studio. I got to interview lots of interesting people as well, Bahrain is a small island in the south –
I interviewed people like Keith Richard – he was absolutely gorgeous and I was quite close to him like we are now. I was close to him and realised he hadn’t had any face lifts. Also, Barry Humphries – I knew his pianist so I went out to dinner with him afterwards as well – he’s so funny and interesting and smart, I had too much to ask him but he turned the whole dinner and interview around to find out everything about me!
What kind of projects have you worked on in TV, Film and Theatre?
I’ve done a lot of Theatre- I trained as an actress. In Bahrain with media they had a British council who found out I was a professional actress, there was another chap on the island who had been in the National Theatre here.They brought us together and asked if we’d do a play in the theatre.
We did a 2 hander, we did ‘Educating Rita’ which was a successful film about a working class girl who wanted to go up in the world and be educated! It was a small theatre, only held about 120 people and it was full for 3 weeks. So we thought we’ve got something here.
The Hyatt in Bahrain took us in, we then went to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta, in the end we were in about 17 venues. In theatre or hotels doing dinner theatre.
The last one we did was Romeo and Juliet. We just made enough money to go from one production to another, but it was good fun, we’d stay in beautiful hotels, travel 1st class. I then moved from Bahrain to Vienna. I had a job on the breakfast show on the English language channel of the BBC in Vienna.
I couldn’t get up to do it anymore because I had to take care of my son. So I became a school mum for a year and then joined the UN. That was very interesting. The last conference was the International Space conference, my son was 15 and very interested in space so I took him along and from that he went on to do science at University and joined the European space agency!
Which industry did you enjoy the most?
I’ll tell you what I love being in a radio studio! When you get the hang of it, when you forget you’re talking to hundreds of thousands of people, it’s just like talking to someone like here at a table. I interviewed so many people on radio and I really loved it. Television I really enjoyed, sometimes it was nice to be recognised and you got better invitations.
The hardest and most satisfactory was doing theatre.You learn a lot about yourself and the character. I directed ‘Women’ a play by Le Corbusier about the sexism in Architecture. Corbusier brought modernism into the 1920s and he was very keen on women and they were on him. We put it into a 1 man show at Riverside studio.
I’ve done a bit of film in the early days in Beirut and I could speak French well so I’d get cast in French films but didn’t follow that route after that.
What has been your favourite role to take on in this industry?
It’s very satisfying when you produce a successful play, especially when we did it commercially and had to get sponsors. Putting all that together and making sure they were happy, working with the director to make sure we had the right actors. We found out in the early days that it’s important when you’re on tour, television and radio, when we went on to interview actors, we needed to get actors who can communicate and not just act.
I think it’s wonderful when you have a successful show. At the end of Educating Rita , I remember when my son and husband flew down to see the show and then my son, who I didn’t know was there, came up on stage and gave me a bouquet of flowers. It was a beautiful moment.
I tend to take on leading roles, Electra at the National Theatre. But I think Rita, because there’s so much character development, you see much more on stage than in the film. I revisited it after 8 years again, when you revisit a role you see different things. So yeah Rita was definitely my favourite.
What projects are you most proud to have worked on?
There’s several things, I was very proud of– I had a very happy time in Bahrain, I was a big fish in a small pond I got to meet lots of interesting people. But then came along the Gulf War and the minister of information asked a few of us to stay and report on the war.A lot of the island evacuated, my husbands company evacuated him and could evacuate me but I decided to stay and send my son to my parents in Wales.
So I sealed up my house and I remember it was about 3am and we knew the war would start soon, we heard planes flying above, and I got a call saying Jayne get your ass to the station – I said what – he said for gods sake the war has started you’ve got to get down here! I had my bag packed and I got down to the station, I didn’t see the light of day for 5 days. The station was near the palaces so they all came quite close to us and we had to report the sirens going out, we got over 1000 calls a day asking us what to do, saying I’m stuck in a bathroom.
It was a small station, we did our own editing so I’d have to edit on the spot and send out. We worked very well together as. Small team. After a few weeks we knew we were fine. At the end of the war, the part I’m most proud of, the guys from CNN and BBC came over from Saudi and they would listen to us and CNN offered me a job to go to Atlanta, but my family didn’t want to go.
Out of the blue we got invited to the palace, 6 of us stayed and were given certificates of bravery from the Bahraini government , and had letters of commendation from the UK and US governments. They said we’d kept people informed during the war and they were proud of us, and I was proud of us.
What lead you to your current position as a voice and communications coach?
I came back to live in the UK about 10 years ago and I love London, its my home but I was working aboard for many years so my network was overseas and it was difficult to work here, but Ive done it, mainly writing for journals overseas.
Last year I went to a wedding talked to some young professional girls doing well and we were talking about what I’ve done in the media industry and one of them asked me if I could give her voice training. She contacted me after a few months and asked me if I could help her. I said yes and didn’t charge her, we just made some zoom appointments. She’s still with me, she’s got so much out of it.
I did it at the UN for a few people and the change you can make in a persons life with something so simple, relaxing, breathing properly, enunciating and practicing vowel sounds and get them to put it together in sentences. They take speeches and poems to practice with and can relate it into their work. You have to learn to pause, it’s ok to pause and breathe and think about what you’re going to say.
I thought I like this, then I was at dinner with somebody in the autumn and someone asked if im a life coach. I said no, and they said, well I am and you should too! So I took a course and got here, it was serendipity really. I have 4 clients now, I need more but have only been doing it properly for a few months, Id like to do it in companies to help managers communicate with groups of people.
I’m still writing, doing things in health and beauty, but Im at a point in my life where I’m happy to help people and that’s whats got me to bring here.
Have you faced any obstacles in your career or in the media industry due to being a woman?
Oddly enough, in the Middle East, I worked mainly with Arabs and they were incredibly respectful. Often, I was the only woman in the room. Professionally I never really had a problem.
I had a problem with western men mostly – When I was in my 20s or 30s, I’d often sit in a meeting with a big director of a company and I would have a lot to say and I’d be enthusiastic and passionate about the theatre company and they would just be staring down at my legs!
I got so fed up of it, I decided to play along with their games and make some big money out of it. So, I went in and wore a shorted skirt and say, ‘Ok you can stare at my knees but give me more money’.
Do you think you’ve had to work harder to accomplish the things you have, because you’re a woman?
Yes. Yes! At the UN I worked there for different agencies, and I should have been promoted- But this guys who used to steal my notes and cozied up to various men and women, got the promotion instead! and I was definitely better at the job!
As a woman if you want to be taken seriously – When I was younger, I would always behave very well and dress very well and have my hair back, always looking the part so I wouldn’t be looked down a certain way. At the end of the day you just talk your way through these things, and some just don’t work like the UN promotion.
In your years of experience, have you seen a significant change in the way woman are treated in the media industry?
There are! Theres a lot more women in media now, sometimes I think there are more female war reporters than men.
I think generally women are treated better all together than they were and regarded more as equals than they were. But we’ve all worked towards that, it all started in the 19th century with the suffragettes, it wasn’t even 100 years ago that women didn’t have the vote int his country. We’ve all been building up on what they started back then.
Your generation is building on what mine did and than the ones after you, It will take a few more generations to get there but these things – You’re changing the last couple of thousand years of how women were treated since religions were formed, leading to women being out as 2nd place. Nowadays, the change is getting faster and faster.
As a life coach what advice would you give a young woman – or man – on how they can thrive in the arts if they feel like they’re not getting anywhere?
As a life coach: I think you really have to withstand rejection. I’ve seen so many hugely talented people in my life and not always the best ones made it. They didn’t have the staying power, they couldn’t face rejection and sometimes it was financial too.
It’s not always down to how you sound or look. You might be the type for a role but the person opposite you-So much goes into making something and you just need to keep going. One thing with media & entertainment industry is that you will always face rejection.
The thing that’s got me most through the hardest times is, exercise. I’ve danced and exercised all my life and still do. I think it’s proven now that it really helps your mind. When I go to the gym now, I see so many more people of my age. For anybody, just keep moving, walk, run, dance, put some music on and just dance 10 minutes a day. It makes a difference in your life.
Thank you Jayne for taking the time out for this interview! We hope this has been enlighten to those who want to know more about the media industry, especially with its progression in the new years around us. If you enjoyed this blog why don’t you read one of our other’s concerning women in the media industry!
10 Up and Coming Women in Film
Interview with a Female Filmmaker
4 Training Schemes for women in the media industry
Top 5 Female Film Crew Working Today
Want to learn more about female filmmakers in the media industry? Want a list of female film directors? Female directors in Hollywood? You can check out this organisation which advocates for the careers of women in film and advances them by working with the industry.
You can also check back on the Nostairway website every week for updates, stories and facts about female directors today and in the past, as well as helpful advice for women in the media industry.