Liam O'Dell

Freedom Project: How I Appeared in a George Michael Music Video for Freedom! ’90

I think there’s something you should know…

Although, if you’ve been following me for long enough, you may have some idea already, thanks to a series of posts from late 2017 teasing the launch of something known as The Freedom Project.

The initial date was set for 14 November. Now, three years later, it has arrived. A new music video for George Michael’s hit single Freedom! 90 has been published on the singer’s official YouTube channel, featuring myself amongst several other incredible young people.

Like most opportunities I come across, this one presented itself on Twitter. A tweet from the talent agency Livity UK said they were looking for individuals who had ‘beat adversity’ to get in touch if they were interested in taking part in an “exciting music video artist project”. I have my good friend Connor to thank for finding out about, and my choosing to apply in the first place.

 

A casting session in Kings Cross followed. I had made the shortlist and now an audition awaited in one of the back rooms of London’s YouTube Space, not far from the Underground. I came prepared with a song I needed to lip-sync, and then came some questions about how I had overcome adversity, which to me is in the form of accepting and being proud of my deaf identity.

Looking back on it now, I’m surprised that when the call came through saying I had made the cut, I initially turned it down! 2017 Liam was a month or so into his final year at university, and missing a day’s worth of lectures and seminars troubled this student journalist. It was my parents who later convinced me to take part, and I cannot thank them enough (should any of the lecturers be reading this, know that I caught up on the work missed as soon as I was able to).

6 October 2017 was the day I met all the other cast members. Wonderful, expressive fellow young people from so many different backgrounds. Dancers, drag artists, fellow disabled people. I remember the moments where we would peer through the rectangular window of the studio as other individuals were called for their section of the six-minute long music video, and when we would gather in a room at the end of the day once filming had concluded.

Although, the music video itself wasn’t the only filming taking place that day, as we were also called in for our own individual ‘behind the scenes’ interviews. Questions were asked about my journey up until that point in 2017, and while that video sadly won’t see the light of day, there is quite a remarkable contrast between then and where I am now.

I’m now a journalism graduate who has established himself as a freelancer, and broken several big exclusives on issues relating to the deaf community. I’ve come out as asexual, and I’m in a much better place now mentally, too.

It prompted my quote about ‘finding your own space to create without constraint’, which you can see in the official music video. As well as this, I talked to the team behind the project about the line in Freedom regarding there being ‘someone else I’ve got to be’ hitting home.

I find it relates to my urge to keep moving forwards, and improving myself along the way, and that, to me, is my freedom.


Photo: Sony Music.

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