For many young women falling pregnant at 18 might have slowed down or even derailed their ambitions, but not Carley Solomon. Just six years after graduating from the University of Sunderland, Carley has built a successful career as a script supervisor on TV and film, and this week returned to Sunderland to be named the university’s Alumni Achiever of the Year.

Carley, now 30, was raised by her grandparents in Hendon, Sunderland, and had a lifelong love of drama.  The young mum graduated with first class degree in Media Production: Television and Radio in 2014.

Even before she graduated Carley was working freelance for the BBC, and had already experienced working on Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor. Since graduating Carley has worked for ITV, BBC, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5, and was just days away from stepping onto the set of new The Batman movie, until Lockdown halted production.

Carley admits it was a bit of a blow to her plans, but, typically, took the setback in her stride. “In March, I was scheduled to be working on the second unit of the new Warner Brothers Batman film in Liverpool. To be working on a blockbuster movie is the ultimate dream for a film maker.

“Three days before I was due to go, the shoot was postponed due to lockdown and upon rescheduling I was committed to another project. These unforeseen circumstances are beyond my control, so it’s just keep calm and carry on and hope that opportunity will come around for me again, which I’m certain it will!”

After the birth of her son Alfie, now aged 12, she signed up for a Higher Education Access Course at Newcastle College in Performing Arts, gaining top grades; she was then accepted onto the University of Sunderland Drama course. However, she quickly realised it was behind the cameras where her talent lay and changed her degree course to Media Production.

“At uni I used my time wisely and dedicated every bit of spare time I had to gain experience on TV and film sets alongside my studies. I toured with X Factor and BGT throughout my studies and set up my own production company with other students on my course, making our own content.

“I was so proud to have achieved a first class degree and made my late grandfather so proud of me.”

After graduating Carley started from the bottom, working her way up from making cups of tea and emptying the bins on film sets, to being a fully-fledged freelance script supervisor.

“A script supervisor’s role is paramount to a drama set. We take care of continuity, script changes, script breakdowns, ensuring the timings of the episodes are correct, make important notes for the editors and are the eyes and ears for the director and producer on the floor.

“In addition to my work as a script supervisor, I am writing my own projects with the aim of having something broadcasted that I have written. The end goal for me would be to be a Writer/Producer, but I’m tempted to do a bit of directing myself in the coming years, so keep your eyes peeled for more from me!”

Now Carley is expanding her reputation into international script supervision, and will be working on film sets in Budapest and Malta next year.

This week Carley has been named the University of Sunderland’s Alumni Achiever of the Year.  Though Carley cannot step onto the stage at the Stadium of Light to receive her award due to Covid restrictions, she is justly proud of her remarkable achievements.

“When I received the letter asking me if I would accept the award, I burst into tears. My late grandfather was at my graduation, and it felt like a little sign from him and my grandmother that they are proud.

“This award means the absolute world to me. My education at The University of Sunderland moulded me into the person I am today. Without my education I would never have attained such a successful career, met my husband, bought a house and all the other lovely things I am blessed with, including my children who are very proud of me achieving this award.

“Wherever this industry takes me next, because believe me it is the most exciting, spontaneous, liberating, soul fulfilling journey you will ever embark on, and the University of Sunderland will always be there in my heart and soul.”

And Carley has some advice for students graduating this year.

“My advice is to never ever give up. There will be haters, there will be doubters, there will be criticism and then there will be you – proving them all wrong. Don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions, drown out your inner voice and prevent you from achieving your full potential.”

A video of Carley talking about her time at University is available for media to use on their websites here