Interview With The Founder

Joanna With The MVP Team

How did MVP Media start?

MVP stands for Most Valuable Player and was founded in 2016 when we did our first summer outreach program for young people in Waltham Forest. I worked in education for many years and experienced the barriers young people face such as violence, homelessness, and other personal and social issues. Through my sister Hannah who is a pianist and music producer, I gained first-hand experience about what it takes to be successful in the music industry. Fusing young people’s progression opportunities with the music and entertainment industry is what MVP is all about. We aim to equip, mentor and progress our young people into meaningful careers, education and training opportunities.

What is your role at MVP?

I’m involved in all aspects of the business but my pivotal role is to encourage the team and manage the personalities, recruit young people for our projects and to network and build relationships. I make sure everyone is positive and focused on the task at hand and I try to provide solutions whenever a staff member or young person faces obstacles. I really enjoy working on a idea and seeing it go from a vision to reality, such as hearing an amazing piece of music created by a group of young people working together on an MVP project. I am inspired by seeing our young people find their purpose, perfect their art and step into their future with confidence and excitement.

How has MVP grown over the years?

When we first started it was myself along with my bother Sam and our close friend Justin. In the early days we used to have to do everything ourselves and worked some crazy hours. Actually, I still work crazy hours but at least I have some help now! Our team of 3 has now grown to employ 7 full-time staff as well as over 20 seasonal staff.

What have been the biggest challenges for MVP?

In 2018 we ran our biggest ever summer holiday program, delivering 16 courses for the Borough of Enfield and Waltham Forest. It was massive test for us to see whether we could scale up, but we managed to deliver a really successful series of workshops.

When the pandemic hit many of our upcoming projects were cancelled, which was a real blow. However, we used that time to work on a new long-term plan for MVP to work with more staff and more young people across different boroughs with a focus on digital media.

Financial security is always a challenge for any non-profit organisation relying on public funding and balancing the budgets is one of the hardest challenges. In the future we hope to be able to increase our revenue by partnering up with private companies and industry heavyweights like the BFI, Ivors Academy and many more.

How do you find it as a woman of colour running a business?

There are many statistics about the lack of females in leadership, the pay gap that goes along with it and the extra amount of work we must put in to be successful.  Being a woman of colour makes it even harder. Although I am very aware of the statistics, I try not to ruminate on them. Every day I strive to stay positive through the ups and downs and teach my young people and staff not to let the barriers hold them back. We should never see ourselves as victims and stay focused and work hard to accomplish what it is that we have set out to do.

Joanna With The MVP Team

What does the future look like for MVP?

I am so excited about the future. Some of my ex-students are now running the courses for young people which is such a delight to see.

Having a physical location where MVP can run its projects is essential. In partnership with Waltham Forest Council’s Regeneration Team and The University of Westminster, we are working on an exciting new community hub in Leyton that may become our permanent home.  This would be huge for us, as we will be able to house all our projects, equipment, staff and outreach. Fingers crossed!

At the beginning of the year, we released an EP with some extremely talented artists and we are looking forward to running more songwriting camps with our partners DITTO, The Premises Studios, NPA Management and Farhana Aboo who is now at Virgin Music. We are about to launch the MVP Digital Hub which is going to be a new platform for our artists and content creators.

I won’t be taking it easy anytime soon. MVP has so much potential and it’s up to the team and I to make it happen!