Take a break with Sumayyah Bailey

Sumayyah Bailey wearing a vintage blue dress
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Join us as we sit down with members of the Ravensbourne community to hear about what they're up to, what they enjoy doing in their free time, and - most importantly - what’s their favourite break-time snack!

This edition, we are joined by Sumayyah, our first-ever graduate to go on to postgraduate studies at the University of Cambridge.

Hi! What’s your name and what did you study at Ravensbourne?

"Why, hello! My name is Sumayyah Maryam Bailey, and I am an MA film scholar at the University of Cambridge, a surreal and political screenwriter, an award-winning filmmaker, and a vintage fashion and ‘bookstagram’ content creator.

"I studied Digital Film Production while at Ravensbourne and I graduated in December 2022."

It’s time for a coffee break! What’s your go-to drink or snack?

"A doughnut and a hot chocolate! (Preferably a black forest hot chocolate – if it's the season)."

How did you get to where you are now?

"During lockdown, I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. In 2021, I had taken a leave of absence from university and was due to redo my third year, due to mental health reasons.

"During this time, I had gotten back into reading, and I read Matt Haig's “The Midnight Library”I stayed up all night reading it and I realised that there was nothing stopping me from working toward my biggest dreams.

"A couple of weeks later, I happened to watch the Cambridge-Oxford boat race and it was then that I found out about their MPhil film course.

"Through Instagram, I had gotten into reading philosophy, and I was starting to build my library. I also read Orwell's “1984” and Huxley's “Brave New World” and I couldn't stop talking about it.

"One day, my grandad said, "why don't you just write your dissertation on Orwell then?" – and so I did. When I restarted my third year, I changed my dissertation topic to current affairs and it acted as the backend to my stoic philosophy, vintage-inspired, anti-utopian feature script, “In Pursuit of Seneca's Approval” (which was my final major project).

"After getting the grades I needed, securing a place at Selwyn College at Cambridge, and being awarded a CT Trust scholarship, I started my Master's in October 2022."

Tell us about what you are doing now.

"I have just started my Lent Term at Cambridge. This term I'm taking two modules, one being Historiographies and the other being Queer Spaces.

"I care a lot about research into the intersection of race, sexuality, and disability, in the context of ‘the vintage’, so both modules are really interesting to me. I have a lot of reading to do and screenings twice a week, but I'm finding it fascinating so far!"

What advice would you give to someone currently studying your Ravensbourne course?

"For the first years, I would say really take advantage of the time you have to make as many ‘rubbish’ films as possible. You don't have to have figured out your style yet, but really allow yourself to experiment.

"Second and third years: If you feel like you haven't done well on a project, just remember that if it was perfect, there wouldn't be room for improvement. I wrote a short script about our cat, Mealworm, in my second year and got a D+. In my final year, the script went on to be a two-time finalist in a script competition!"

What is your proudest accomplishment?

"Oh, gosh! I think I would probably say my Instagram. I know it seems like a small thing, but I owe a lot of my success to it.

"My therapist suggested I work on completing smaller tasks to build my confidence; one of these was posting about the things I love – books and vintage fashion. I just wanted to make some bookish friends and feel part of a community, I could never have foreseen what it would turn into.

"I'm really humbled by the kindness of my mini audience, and I look forward to sharing my future endeavours with them!"

How do you like to unwind and destress?

"I love to swim and do yoga, and I also sketch or play my ukulele. For the last few weeks, I usually watch a ‘try not to laugh’ challenge on YouTube with a friend to take my mind off my studies!"

Quickfire questions!

A book I recently loved is… “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke! It is a hauntingly beautiful story. I read it last year and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It's easily my favourite book of all time!

My favourite video game is… “Drawn to Life DS”. It's such an underrated game but the art style and soundtrack are wonderful... I get so nostalgic whenever I listen to it – especially “Raposa Returns”!

My current favourite piece of clothing/accessory is… definitely my vintage herringbone cape coat! It's from the 70s, but it looks very Victorian, and I feel like Sherlock Holmes when I wear it.

My drink of the summer is… the Cherry Bakewell mock/cocktail from Cosy Club!