Changing Perspectives - Embracing diversity, our industry will be better for it

Teresa Ly
By Teresa Ly | 27 June 2023
Teresa Ly.

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

I had a dream. A dream of being Caucasian.

Why? The media I was consuming led me to believe that to be successful in life, to belong, to be liked, even loved, you needed to be Caucasian.

My parents are immigrants from South East Asia and arrived in NZ in the ’70s, where they eventually had me. Growing up, I felt like I lived two different lives. A life at home where we lived a traditional Asian lifestyle and then life outside of home, the “real world”.

I was different. Different to the people I was seeing on TV, different to the people in magazines and different to the people on billboards. All I ever wanted was to fit in.

There weren’t many like me around – a “third culture kid” (TCK: a child who was raised in a different culture to their parents) – so navigating adolescence was difficult and having no representation of someone like me in the media exasperated my feelings of being different and had profound impact on my self worth. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.

Over the years, I wondered if the experience of being different and feeling excluded was something I felt in isolation. When I had the opportunity to talk about it with my media peers who were  also TCKs born in a different decade, raised in Australia, I found that alarmingly they had felt the same.

What advice/tips can you give people working in the industry, who may not understand but want to?

Australia is multicultural! We are different and our differences should be celebrated.

Cast ethnically diverse people for your ads, recruit people from different backgrounds and tell our stories.

It may seem like a small thing, but it can have the biggest impact on future generations and how they feel about themselves. Seeing is believing, and we want to be able to imagine our future with people who look and talk like us.

Our industry will be better for it. And more importantly, our society will benefit from it.

What has been the most valuable advice you’ve received and what would you say to others who may be feeling similarly challenged?

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? – Dr Seuss

Embrace your differences. Love yourself. You’re amazing! Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Teresa Ly is Group Business Director AUNZ at Acast

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion courseAustralia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.



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