Kellie's Story

When she was just two years old, Kellie O’farrell sustained extensive burn injuries to her face and hands in a car fire. Today, the 26 year old is achieving her ambition of building a successful career in television.kellie

“Personally, I feel that my disfigurement has not been a barrier in the way of me finding a job,” says Kellie. In fact, she says that looking different can an actually be an advantage sometimes. “Because my face is burned, when I walk into a room, people notice me. Generally, I find that if you stand out, people want to know more about you – so looking different can be helpful.

Just like any graduate, I’ve had to do a lot of free internships to get my foot in the door. I’ve not experienced any discrimination (yet) but I’m also aware that it exists. So I work very hard to prove that I can do a great job.”

Kellie currently works in London and across the U.K. for different independent companies, researching into programme ideas and developing story lines, which she thoroughly enjoys.

“I love stories and I’ve always been very interested in telling them,” adds Kellie. “So that’s how I ended up in the media. Current affairs and human interest stories excite me and I like listening to/watching stories.

When I was 17, I volunteered for a media campaign, which was run by Changing Faces. This experience provided me with a platform to express myself and that’s when I discovered my flair for the media. It was actually my involvement with Changing Faces that also inspired me to study for a Masters in TV journalism at Goldsmith University.”

Through her TV job, Kellie really enjoys meeting a diverse range of people and hearing about their stories. She also likes the freedom it gives her to work on different styles of TV shows. “No two days are the same and of course, it’s great to see your name in the credit list. It proves that all the hard work that went into it was worthwhile,” adds Kellie. So far she has worked for CBBC, Channel 5 and Channel 4.

She hopes her personal story will inspire other people with disfigurements to believe they can do whatever kind of job they want, although she did have some fears when she first started going to interviews.

“When I used to go to interviews, it always used to cross my mind: ‘What if they turn me down because of my looks?’ These thoughts used to make me feel nervous. But I’ve never actually been told by an interviewer that the reason I didn’t get the job was because of the way I look.

Kellie’s advice is to apply for as many positions as possible, including volunteering and internships, to build as much experience as you can. “It’s also important not to presume that someone will turn you down because of your looks,” adds Kellie. “And it’s equally important that employers do not judge candidates based on their face. Abiding by a principle of equally is essential.”

You must present yourself as the best candidate, approaching an interview with an: ‘I want this job; I’ll get this job’ attitude. But if there’s discrimination, it’s also important to address it. How you look should never make a difference in terms of what career you choose. Don’t just go for a job because it’s a face-friendly environment.”

Kellie is aiming for a senior management role and eventually becoming a producer.  She is also considering further studies, which will either be another Masters or PhD, while she continues to work.