Soho Mentorship: Ayesha Charles and Phoebe Reith
We caught up with the London based members to talk about the importance of collaboration, defining success and finding the right career path
One such mentee is Ayesha Charles, founder of Gyals On Road – an audio collective made up of Black femme creatives who talk about the Black female experience. She is also a regular contributor to I Weigh Community, the allyship platform built by radio personality and actress Jameela Jamil, and an executive at leading entertainment agency, Be-Hookd Digital. In 2020, she was taken under the wing of Phoebe Reith, a creative and strategic partnerships consultant and co-host of Arts Work, a podcast from London’s Sadler’s Wells about pathways into creative industries.
We caught up with them both to hear about their Soho Mentorship experience.
What have you enjoyed the most about collaborating with Ayesha?
‘It has been a privilege to meet her, get to know her, and watch her journey. The thing I have valued most is how she challenges me to question my assumptions and examine what steps can be taken to push her goals forward.’
What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when starting out?
‘Make it personal, but don’t take things personally.’
What does a successful mentoring relationship require?
‘There needs to be a certain amount of open and coaching-style questions, while also providing the reassurance and direct guidance that only a mentor can give. Also, a sense of humour. If you’re the mentor, you need a balance between “when I was in your shoes” and “I know the landscape was different for me and what I’m saying is probably irrelevant.”’
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
‘Ageism and sexism. If you demonstrate results, most people get past that.’
What do you do to switch off?
‘Swim in the sea, all year.’
'My mentor has empowered me to be the creative I’ve always aspired to be by instilling consistent faith in all that I do'
Why did you want to become a Soho House mentee?
‘Because I want to be part of a movement that encourages us to believe that pursuing zany, unique and exciting things are possible. And if there’s a way for me to be a catalyst for somebody else to get closer to their dreams or just the next job or next conversation, why wouldn’t I want to do that?’
How valuable has your Soho House mentorship been?
‘Honestly, life-changing. Phoebe, my mentor has empowered me to be the creative I’ve always aspired to be by instilling consistent faith in all that I do, as well as sharing invaluable tips on how to make big career decisions. Having Phoebe by my side, mixed with access to the creative hub that is Soho House, offers up endless opportunities to reach higher levels within my creative career. It also enables me to have the chance to connect with other like-minded creatives that you’d never even dream of bumping into, let alone speak to.’
What do you enjoy the most about what you do?
‘I love the versatility. No day is the same; on some days, it’s stats and numbers-driven, and on other days it’s searching for trending songs for a creative brief and even coming up with concepts for a whole campaign. I also love that Gyals On Road, my collective’s work and podcast, remains at the forefront of what I do. Gyals On Road is all about empowering the Black community, dismantling the hierarchy, and breaking the glass ceilings that stereotypes create. We, as a collective, have a podcast where we speak up in order to ensure that we’re treated how we deserve to be.’
How did you choose your career?
‘It sounds cliché, but it really chose me. I had been jobless for a whole year because of the pandemic, fighting for someone to give me a chance in the bigger, wider and scarier creative scene, and then it happened. I’ve never been much of an academic, so it was always going to be the creative world for me.’
What challenges did you face in your career prior to having a mentor?
‘Where do I even start. Being taken seriously, or nearly getting my foot in the door, but banging my toe on the way – my metaphor for “you’re overqualified” or “you’re great, but you do not have the exact experience needed”. Two polar opposites you hear way too often when it comes to the creative world. I don’t like to dwell on it too much as I believe that’s in the past. It’s all about thinking about the now.’
What do you think the long-term values of having a mentor are?
‘Confidence in all that you do. Understanding how your own creative mind works from having someone on the outside looking in who’s truly rooting for you. That and key communicative skills.’
What does the future hold for you?
‘Let’s aim big – I’m looking to work for Spotify one day in the editorial playlisting sphere.’
How do you define success?
‘True belief in what you do.’
Applications are currently open to Soho House members to mentor in: London, Oxfordshire, New York, Toronto, Los Angeles and Chicago. Sign up here.
Soho Mentorship for the UK is run in partnership with Creative Mentor Network.