In 2022 Darcy Thomas won a BAFTA for his first hosted documentary Dispatches: The Truth About Nike and Adidas …
A graduate of The BRIT School, his career began in 2014 working on content for BBC, Sky, Google & Channel 4. Then in 2017, Thomas was appointed Deputy Editor at Loaded Magazine. Building an extensive list of credits including documentaries’ BBC’s Beats, Bass and Bars – The Story of Grime to launching and producing two series of Yo! MTV Raps. In 2021 Thomas served as Senior Creative Producer on both ITV2’s Peckham’s Finest and the YouTube Black campaign.
Throughout his career, Thomas has shown that his passion lies in social action projects which focus on underrepresented young people from underserved backgrounds. Developing content such as The Whole Truth (Channel 4) a Mental Health/Music Special to launch World Mental Health Day 2020. In 2021, he was asked to become an official partner of The Martin Luther King Initiative, promoting diversity and equal opportunities within the creative industries.
His latest project Dispatches: The Truth About Nike and Adidas gained him a BAFTA win and focuses on the trainer industry being the world’s 17th largest polluter with over 25 billion pairs made annually. He heads to the Maldives to see what’s really going on with our favourite sneakers.
We spoke to the documentary maker about his journey …
Please tell us who you are, what you do, and where you’re from.
My name is Darcy Thomas – aka Mr Darc. I’m a writer, actor, creative producer, comedian, presenter, and entrepreneur. I’ve been called a polymath before, which is probably my favourite word. I am of mixed heritage and I live in Queens Road, south London.
Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence.
Tell us about your BAFTA award-winning documentary Dispatches: The Truth About Nike and Adidas …
The documentary looks at recycled plastic and greenwashing. Highlighting the fact that the world’s recycled waste is dumped in places like Ghana and the Maldives.
What’s your role in it?
I was the reporter/journalist.
How did it come about?
I was selected as part of a list of talent by Nicole Kleeman from Firecrest Films to work on the show, and then Channel 4 confirmed it.
Tell us about any highs or lows working on the project and how you overcame them.
The documentary came together quite easily. The team I was working with were super-professional. Filming overseas and doing the hidden camera scene in the blazing heat was probably the hardest part. But since doing the doc I have had the chance to learn so much about sustainability and recycling. A few months later I was contacted by a guy called James who founded a creative collective called “Are You Mad?” who had watched the show and said he wanted to work with me. Since working with James and A.Y.M we have managed to provide meaningful employment for young people and multiple shops in central London. The most recent is open in Soho at 97 Berwick Street. The shop is basically like a Willy Wonka factory for plastic. Everyone who works in the shop processes recycled plastics and then gets to turn it into cool creative things.
Tell us about a scene or a moment that defines why you said yes to the project.
After producing TV for nearly a decade, I realised I also have to push myself in front of the camera. When I began working in TV I wanted to increase the level of representation we had as on-screen talent and after working on so many successful shows which push the agenda and having cast so many amazing people you see on your screen now, I decided it was time for me to return to performing and do both. When I started working at the BBC I worked as a reporter at BBC Newsbeat and other news platforms and then went to 4Music to present for the digital platforms, so for me it just made sense.… and I really love trainers!
What was your reaction when you found out you won a BAFTA?
I cried. Went to my hotel room and put the award down and said thank you to my Nan and thanked my ancestors. No joke, fireworks went off in the distance. And then I went back down and finished the awards. Which is probably why I missed so much of the PR stuff. I cried because I knew my son was watching at home in his BAFTA suit and his reaction when I won was all I needed. I truly am blessed.
Tell us your career grind …
I began working in TV when I was cast as “Jay” in the original pilot for The Inbetweeners, it was titled Baggy Trousers. It was recast when commissioned but the producers at the time made sure I was featured across series 1 and 3. The producers also offered me work behind the camera in production. They told me if I truly want to change representation I had to be the creator of the show and/or work in production. That is where change will happen. After working a few runner jobs. I then joined Shine Group in 2012 as an apprentice as part of the Hatch, which also led me to be selected as one of Danny Cohens Development Central in 2014. Then I worked my way up since. Whilst doing all of this I was performing standup nationally as part of the Jongleurs Comedy Club. I got into the finals for both the Musical Comedy Awards and the New Act of the Year Awards as part of a comedy group. The most recent TV projects I’ve enjoyed working on are Channel4’s ‘Dropped’ made by MBC productions, ITV’s Peckham’s Finest, Dane Baptiste’s BBC comedy show Bamous, Channel U’s 6 Hour Special and Channel 4’s The Whole Truth.
What’s your current plan B?
I don’t understand Plan B, I’ve never had one. We are all just vessels on a journey to fulfil our true purpose. Therefore there can be no Plan B. Alie? And if that is the case then you should do everything, try it all, never let anyone limit you or tell you what success should look like. Just find your purpose and you will be fine.
What’s made you sad, mad and glad this week?
I have been blessed to finally reach Mandeville, Jamaica, where my grandad lives. I waited until I had my first born son to visit home so it was a special moment. It was so nice to be with my grandad, dad and son all at once. It allowed me time to do some much-needed self-reflecting and self-healing. And this morning I found out that I have been nominated as debut presenter of the year at the Edinburgh TV Festival, New Voice Of the Year Awards 2023.
What are you watching right now?
What are you reading right now?
My Child’s Self-Esteem and The Art Of Doing Nothing.
What are you listening to right now?
I have an eclectic taste in music. Obviously my playlists bang. But right now I’m choosing to listen to my ancestors and to God.
The last thing you saw on stage?
The Bob Marley Musical, which was amazing but I wanted to say my sister performed in Tina in Berlin, but I was working so missed it. Even still, Big up sis!
What’s on your bucket list?
You don’t have enough time. The main one right now it’s trying to find ways to save the planet.
Now it’s time to celebrate someone else …
My parents. There are too many industry names to mention and I don’t want to leave anyone out. But – currently, I’ve been blown away by the work ethic of both Raine Miller and Tobi Kyeremateng. Two amazing females who are changing the game. Plus I want to celebrate all my mentors and OGs. Again the list is too long to name all of the names.
Celebrate yourself …
I don’t like to hype myself. I would rather say I am very happy and very proud of my Black people. I love you all and I want you to take care of yourselves. Working in this industry is harmful to our mental health and it will make you question yourself over and over but you must trust your gut. I promise you, you will succeed. The game has changed and we are slowly becoming the decision-makers. Stay true to yourself and I promise you, you will succeed. You have a duty as creators and artists to tell the truth, inspire the world and make positive change. We are descendants of royalty. We are all kings and queens and it is up to us to ensure we uplift our kingdoms and our queendoms. So please check in on each other and support one other. As my elders tell me ‘ubuntu’. (Google it), I love you, and I promise you, you will succeed.
Whose footsteps are you following in?
I’m following in the steps of God.
Right now, the focus is on trying to find ways to reduce our plastic waste issue. Projects-wise, I’m working on a documentary about mental health which will air later this year (can’t say too much). You will see them all soon.
Where can we find you and watch your project?
You can find me via my agent here
Or socials TikTok/ Twitter / Instagram: @immrdarcy
My Dispatches documentary is here
If you want to read more about how climate change is linked to colonial reparations you can read my article in Real Review #13 here
Or come and see in person at the recycling shop in soho. ‘Are You Mad?’ 97 Berwick Street, London.
The Truth About Nike and Adidas: Dispatches is available to stream on Channel4.com