When you think of a gatekeeper or studio executive, what comes to mind? It probably is an able-bodied, straight, middle-aged white man. This stereotype is quite common, and it is actually the reality of the industry today. Although the entertainment business is slowly diversifying, there is so much work to do to change it and be further ahead in terms of diversity.
Keely Cat-Wells is an artist and entrepreneur who has lived a life far beyond her years. Keely has been through a lot. She has faced major health issues throughout her teenage years. Because of this, she faced death in the face, and consequently, this changed her tracks from dancer to becoming an aspiring global game changer. Her breakdowns fuelled her breakthroughs, and she’s set out to change the world. She believes we have to work to represent a world that not just reflects our society today and all the people in it, but society as we would like to see it.
When Keely was going through surgeries and life-changing consequences, she never let anything get in her way. Instead, she chose to set up a talent management company that would go on to change the way Hollywood hires its talent. She does this by representing the deaf, disabled, and minority talent. Wells was encouraged to diversify the face of the industry when she got rejected from a leading role because of her scars and disability. At that time, Keely knew this was going to become a lifelong battle, but she is more than willing to go on this fight for representation.
Wells says she has had to fight to be taken seriously. She and many of her underrepresented allies often don’t have the luxury of just being good at what they do. Unfortunately, it’s not about the talent, but the looks. That’s a reality that many aspiring artists face in the industry. Thus, they have to go beyond the call of duty to be heard and seen for their skill.
The equality fight is not a new one. In fact, society has always wanted better. “We have previously asked for essentials, the basic needs to live in equity, but now we have to take that a step further. We have to make hierarchies out of the equation and let leaders be from all backgrounds, of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, and all abilities,” Keely stated boldly.
Wells is leading the effort to fulfil this need, as well as the excessive demand for UK studio space by creating a film and TV studio, Zetta Studios, that will span across many acres. Zetta will be an entirely revolutionized film and TV studio, introducing a new age of production facilities. This will be the world’s first fully accessible studio for people with disabilities. It is carbon neutral and founded by a woman.
With people like Keely, we can look forward to a time where the people we look up to on films and television shows are finally people who look like us. And that way, we know that Keely and the rest of those who work hard for representation to be diversified were successful.