Kharis makes the most of her big break
Booking a date with actor David Hasselhoff is easier than you think.
That is what 24-year-old Kharis Brooks learnt during an internship with a British cellphone company, Vodafone.
“It started as a joke,” Ms Brooks said. “We were planning a campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first cellphone call, made by Vodafone. Someone said, ‘Why don’t we get David Hasselhoff?’.”
Mr Hasselhoff, 63, starred in 1980s television shows such as Knight Rider and Baywatch.
“I knew who he was from watching Baywatch reruns,” Ms Brooks said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a good idea.”
She was thrilled when Mr Hasselhoff agreed to appear at Covent Garden for an installation piece about what companies today would look like in the 1980s.
“He was in between filming and just happened to be in London,” Ms Brooks said. “It was serendipitous. It was definitely a lesson in trusting your gut, because it worked really well.”
She got to meet Mr Hasselhoff at the event, and found him “hilarious and very Hollywood”.
“He was very kind and polite, but you can tell he’s an industry vet,” she said. “He can be all business, switched on and camera ready in a matter of seconds.”
From that project she learnt that timing is everything.
“It was really interesting to watch my land manager and her colleagues negotiate between schedules and dates and whatnot,” she said. “I learnt that a single missed call might miss a crucial detail in the arrangements. You have to be available at all times.”
Ms Brooks obtained the Vodafone internship through the Taylor Bennett Foundation in London. The foundation aims to get minorities into public relations careers, and has an eight-week training programme. Ms Brooks’ work so impressed Vodafone, that they successfully nominated her for the Best Intern 2015 award from the Public Relations Consultants Association and Public Relations Week.
She said that while some internships are full of mindless tasks like coffee runs and mail sorting, hers was full of excitement.
“A couple of weeks into my internship in London, Vodafone asked me to work on a promotional film for the Vodafone Foundation, their charitable arm,” she said. “I had no experience with film work.
“It was daunting, initially, because a lot of authority was being handed over to me. But I felt catapulted by it, because I realised they trusted me and were willing to see what I could achieve if left to my own devices.”
The film was an informational video for teachers in refugee camps. The average child refugee is displaced for 17 years, and struggles to keep their education going.
“The Vodafone Foundation was launching its instant classroom,” she said. “It is a school in a box about the size of a suitcase. It contains 25 computer tablets, a laptop and a 2G to 3G modem.”
Ms Brooks had only two months to complete the work before it was launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in March.
“It feels surreal and humbling to think of thousands of people seeing my work at the congress, and on social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube,” she said.
Ms Brooks finishes her internship next month, but isn’t sure what her next move will be.
“I know this is the industry that I want to be in,” she said.
She attended Saltus Grammar School and did her first internship with the Department of Tourism.
She graduated from the University of the West of England in Bristol with a bachelor’s of arts degree in marketing communications last November.
Watch her film here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVnoXyBsJI8.