Luke lives in London, where he works in advertising, but regularly travels back to his hometown of Hastings to support Eggtooth and other projects working with local communities. He has won a number of open mic events and was a finalist in Word First, the BBC’s national spoken word competition. He is a vocal spokesperson for the need to build a more inclusive society, using his spoken word poetry to engage and connect with new audiences.
What attracted you to work in advertising?
Growing up in Hastings there were over 1,000 students at my school, but only 10 of them came from ethnically diverse backgrounds. The only time I saw people who looked like me was on TV, so I think I gravitated towards advertising because I thought there would be more diversity there.
Is the advertising industry as diverse as you thought it would be?
The number of people from multi-cultural backgrounds featured in adverts has increased hugely, but the number behind the camera remains stubbornly low – only 2% of TV programmes are produced by people from multi-ethnic backgrounds. But diversity is not a marketing strategy – if brands and agencies are profiting from diversity in front of the camera, imagine what the same diversity could do behind the lens!
How do you use your own experience to change things?
I’m involved in diversity and inclusion activities within my own work, but I also speak at different events – shortly before lockdown I gave a TedX talk attended by 1,000 attendees in the audience of TEDx Royal Tunbridge Wells alongside 12 speakers who were speaking about different topics and passions. I use my poetry and rhyme to navigate a narrative of my life, so a lot of it works through my journey from small town to the big city. My poem Half-stereotype talks about my experiences growing up and was featured on Metro’s YouTube channel.
Why did you get involved with Eggtooth?
Hastings is the 13th most deprived local council area in England and the local community have seen repeated reductions in resources and facilities, so I feel it’s really important to give back. I’d already worked with Sally’s son (Sally is co-founder of Eggtooth), on some other projects so I knew about their work and I liked that they give people opportunities, no matter what their background is. They provide a lot of opportunities to take part in creative activities from dance to scriptwriting and spoken work poetry that the young people they work with would never normally get to do.
How did you start working with the Blueprint for All?
I was one of four spoken word poets featured in Eggtooth’s short film To sea or not to see, with each poem exploring the impact of Stephen Lawrence’s life and death. It was really interesting and exciting to collaborate with the other poets and to perform together with the others at a schools event before the pandemic and online on Hastings Isolation Station during lockdown. I’m really proud that the film has recently won best documentary at Wimbledon International Short Film Festival.
What’s next for you?
In my career I want to work with challenging brands and make the creative industry fairer for people from different backgrounds. And I want to make poetry and short films that have an impact and really make difference.
Listen and watch a variety of Luke AG’s work below:
TEDx Talk – The Camera Lens Conundrum
The Metro – Half-Stereotype (race and identity)
Just Flowers (class & perception)
Find out more about Eggtooth:
Eggtooth have recently raised enough money to provide an alcohol free bar, cafe and creative space, and to provide training for young people with barriers to employment. They are currently fundraising to develop the upper floor of the building to provide a safe and confidential environment for their services that support mental health and wellbeing.
WEBSITE FACEBOOK TWITTER FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
Find out more and keep up to date with Luke’s work: