Published on November 27th, 2013 | by Emma Francis0
LCC’s Power List playerDressed down in jeans, a jumper and a pair of Air Max Ones, he doesn’t look like a typical lecturer nor someone that would be named on the Power List 2013 … but he is.
Lawrence Lartey, 36, has been named as one of Britain’s most influential black people under the age of 40, according to the Lloyds Bank/Thompson Reuters Power list.
He’s also a lecturer at LCC, the founder of his own company, Question Media Group, and pals with Jay-Z; you can’t get much cooler than that.
ALN got the chance to steal some of his precious time to find out a bit more about what he’s up to and how he got there.
“I do a lot of stuff with MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon,” says Lawrence, who set up the Viacom Apprenticeship which gives students the opportunity to work on these channels while gaining a qualification.
You may have seen a short production on Channel 4 called Random Acts; the most recent of these was with Tinie Tempah, and yes, you guessed it, Lawrence was involved; his company have been commissioned to produce four more Random Acts over the next few weeks.
With a little probing we managed to get the exclusive on who else will be featured: “We’ve got a poet called Laura Dockrill. She’s done a really amazing spoken word piece and we’ve got an artist called Itch. I’ll leave the others to be a surprise.”
Question Media Group have delivered ground-breaking campaigns for The Prince’s Trust, Hugo Boss, The Arts Council and MTV Staying Alive/UNICEF amongst others.
One of their clients, The Roundhouse London, said in their testimonial on Question Media’s website: “The question media team are committed and passionate about creating opportunities for the next generation of media professionals.”
Even with his outstanding career, Lartey’s feet are both firmly on the ground, even when he made it on to the Power List: “It was crazy. It was for some work I was doing with MTV Staying Alive and UNICEF at the time. I got a phone call and they asked me loads about my work and what I do, then they interviewed me. Next thing I know I’m at a swanky reception, with a lot more famous and established people than myself and I was on the Power List.
“It was really nice to be acknowledged. It made me want to strive to want to do more,” he adds.
Lawrence has been working in the media industry for over 10 years which has led to him being more than capable of a name-drop or two: “Over the years I’ve got to meet a lot of people through work; Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Nas, Missy Elliot, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.”
For him it’s not just meeting them once, and tweeting a picture to prove it: “I’m jetting out to New York to an event for the Shawn Carter Foundation (Jay-Z’s organisation) and hopefully we might be working with them soon.”
We had to find out more about this. “I’ve met him [Jay-Z] a few times. I’ve interviewed him, produced a short film on him and his career, so that’s how the relationship struck up,” he explains.
So why, with all of this going on, does he still choose to work with UAL students? “I make time because I really enjoy the work that I do here. I always try and tie it in with what I do with the company. I just think I was really lucky at uni. I had really good lecturers that made sure I got industry experience and I think it’s only right that I do the same thing.”
If you aren’t one of the lucky students to have Mr Lartey in your lectures, don’t despair! ALN picked his brains to get his best advice for anyone trying to break in to the creative industries.
“Work experience,” says Lawrence, very simply. “Get experience because a lot of people are trying to get in to the industry and something has to set you apart from the other person. Especially in the creative industries as well; what’s the point in having all that theory if you can’t apply it?”
As an influential man himself – one of the most influential people in Britain to be precise – we wondered who his inspirations have been. “One of the lecturers here who I worked under for a long time, Simon Das, has been a really good mentor and I’ve learned a lot from him.
“It’s thanks to him I’m here [at LCC]. Also lecturers from my days at uni, a woman called Diane Dalziel and Steve Mikklesen, my first journalism tutor. I would say that from a uni perspective, and obviously my family have always really supported me.”
Those who have influenced him have obviously had a huge impact on his passion for inspiring others. Even with his busy lifestyle, juggling his roles as the CEO of a growing multimedia company, a UAL lecturer, and planning a wedding – yes, Lawrence is getting married next year – he also gives his time to his running community, Run Dem Crew.
“Get experience because a lot of people are trying to get in to the industry and something has to set you apart from the other person” – Lawrence Lartey
Lawrence explains a little more about it: “Run Dem Crew is a running community supported by Nike and basically it’s loads of creative, young people, old people, middle aged people, we run every Tuesday all around London but then we support each other. So I mentor some young creatives who want to get in to the media industry.”
If you hadn’t heard of Run Dem Crew, then get to know. It’s possibly the coolest running club in the world, although they insist they are not a running club, but a running community. However it’s so cool that there are no spaces left for anyone else to join until the beginning of the new season in February.
Even then you’ll also have to be able to run at least five miles and it’s essential that you can encourage, support and actively engage with the younger members; their website firmly states: “If you only have time for yourself then please feel free to run elsewhere.”
It seems like he never stops, but Lawrence insists he has a passion for living life: “I really like travelling, I like eating, I love my family, I love my friends. I think I’m just passionate about living because, not even being morbid or depressing – but I don’t think it’s always like that for everyone. I’m passionate about life because it’s always different.”
As the interview came to a close we thought it was about time for some quick fire questions. ALN discovered that the way to Lawrence’s heart is crisps – smokey bacon or cheese and onion, or if you happen to bump into him in the canteen at LCC you can buy him his favourite, fish and chips.
And while it seems like he’s got it all together, everyone has something to make them perfectly imperfect: “I’m a bit OCD with tidying” Lawrence confesses – we would never have guessed that!
His laid-back, positive attitude to life is an inspiration in itself, and he has a rare true passion for helping others.