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Outside Voice S2: UK-based creatives share their perspective on racism and representation

Outside Voice is an annotated playlist series from Spotify Advertising celebrating and amplifying people of color in the global creative industry. Each month, leading creatives from underrepresented communities share original playlists—featuring their favourite music alongside spoken-word annotations with personal stories and words of wisdom.

As another season of Outside Voice comes to a close, we’re excited to announce the launch of two playlists from UK-based creatives sharing their perspectives on racism and representation in their home country and the ad industry. With backgrounds at big tech brands, both have gone on to roles at innovative new companies in the fields of social commerce and virtual experiences. And naturally, both are thinking of how the industry can innovate when it comes to lifting and supporting underrepresented voices.

Niran Vinod is the co-founder and creative director of a social commerce consultancy called Deft. He’s also the author of How to Build It: Grow Your Brand, a book on UK rapper Stormzy’s Murky Books imprint. In his annotations, Niran speaks about his Indian descent and feeling like a “raisin in the rice pudding” as a person of color in the industry, due to institutional racism in the UK. His companion playlist is full of Hip-Hop and Bollywood tunes, as he explains how he’s using music to connect his children to their Indian identity. “I really want my kids to know that they're Indian and not be embarrassed to play Bollywood music or talk about it publicly,” he said.

Niran specifically calls out the lack of diversity at industry panels and events: “Going to talks at conferences where the only person of color has been the security guard outside the venue—that’s kind of mad, in 2021. But the more senior you go, you quickly realize you are the token in the room.”

Char Arthurs is a production manager at Alchemy Immersive in London, a company that creates virtual experiences using VR, AI, and other technologies. Char is a Black, gay woman of Jamaican descent who discusses homophobia and racism in her annotations—not only against Black people, but within the Black community itself: “Colorism, especially for dark skin women, is such a prominent topic for our community,” she said. “There are variations of Black, but we all go through the same sort of struggles. I don't understand why we would fight amongst ourselves.”

Char’s playlist shifts from Rock and Metal to easygoing R&B to intense Rap, which she said reflects her personality: “Because I love all styles of music, I feel like it helps me connect with all types of people. I can move fluidly between social circles, and groups, and cultures, and appreciate all the aspects of them.”

In her annotations, Char also talks about where she sees the potential for positive social change going forward: “The younger generation is so smart and so clued up and so switched on. It goes further than understanding fluid sexuality and people's rights—they want to be involved in politics and have their say. That's the only thing that really gives me hope.”

Niran also shares his take on the future, providing guidance to those looking to become better allies: “Educate yourself and use your voice—in your homes and with your families, but also in the workplace when you see things that aren’t right. Call it out. Don’t just wait on the person of color to step up and be that person. I’d love for more allies to speak up and use their voice and platform and power to enable change.”

We hope our Outside Voice series inspires you to use your voice whenever you can, and to create a better path forward for representation in the industry. Stay tuned for more playlists from more remarkable creatives in our next season, coming soon.

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