Infographic of speech bubbles reading out 'Candid conversations'.

Candid conversations

Artist, filmmaker and writer Topher Campbell (Intellectual History 1983) was matched with Jordi M. Carter (Drama and Film Studies 2018) in 2022 as part of the Sussex Connect Global Mentoring Programme. Topher was awarded an honorary doctorate from Sussex in 2017. He has volunteered his time to the Black at Sussex programme and sits on the School of Media, Arts and Humanities Impact Advisory Board.

Jordi’s career has continued to rise since his 2021 graduation. He was appointed the first Co-Artistic Director & CEO of Boundless Theatre at the age of 23, and took part as a mentor and mentee in Sussex’s Global Mentoring Programme.

On a rainy day in London, Jordi and Topher met up to share their perspectives on the value of mentoring and the positive impact their relationship has had.

Topher Campbell and Jordi M. Carter stood together holding umbrellas on a rainy day in London.


I’ve always been an informal mentor. To be asked, as an alumnus, to give a formal mentoring session was intriguing to me. I was also interested to meet a fellow alum of the younger generation who is, like me, queer, Black and in the arts.

Jordi’s career is amazing. He’s very good at knowing the right people and I could understand the way in which he probably moves around the world. Working in the creative field is not necessarily how people think it is. There are a lot of edges to negotiate, and many ways in which you can be cornered by other people’s strong ideals and agendas, especially when you are Black and queer.

As a mentor, the structure in my head was simply to allow Jordi to ask whatever he wanted and to respond as best I could. There was no agenda in our sessions, I wanted to be as open as possible. I have memories of being a trainee director, but I wanted to see how different Jordi’s experience has been and to hear his perspective, which I’ve learnt from hugely.

I remember when I was young, and as someone without parents, your friends were your family. I’ve often thought about Stuart Hall’s phrase regarding notions of radical homelessness: that you lean into the fact you don’t belong and discover different homes because of it.

For anyone thinking about approaching a mentor, if you’ve got a favourite person out there, find them and make it happen. Most people like to talk about what they do. It’s also useful to have an exit community. There are lots of people that I didn’t know went to Sussex, I would have really benefited from that.

Topher Campbell receiving his honorary doctorate from the University of Sussex
"I wanted to see how different Jordi’s experience has been and to hear his perspective, which I’ve learnt from hugely."


I’ve had informal mentors for the past seven years. After graduating I realised how important it is to have someone to be a sounding board.

I had ideas of what I wanted to discuss with Topher. In between each session, I’d think about what I was experiencing at the time and bring them to him as topics of conversation. I like hearing people’s opinions and finding where I fit. Or don’t fit. It helps me to figure out how to proceed with my career and in building relationships with people.

I don’t generally go into things with many expectations. I don’t mean that negatively, I’m just very open. I remember in our first session I was figuring out whether to show how vulnerable I was, because I was coming out of a dark place prior to starting the programme. I just thought Topher was really open. It’s refreshing to have someone from his generation be so willing to listen to someone from my generation.

I don’t think I would be where I am at today if it wasn’t for my friends. I guess everything I didn’t get from my family has been more than made up for by the friends and mentors in my life.

I think it’s nice at this point in my career to have been validated and affirmed in my conversations with Topher. I feel calmer about my process, my direction and my trajectory. I’m grateful to have been a part of the mentoring scheme and to have had the conversations we’ve had. In terms of our relationship, it has definitely progressed beyond the programme.

My advice to anyone considering taking part in the mentoring scheme is to think about the best thing that can happen from you reaching out. And if you don’t know where to begin, LinkedIn and Sussex Connect are great spaces to start. Find someone and connect with them.

Headshot of Jordi M. Carter
"Topher was really open. It’s refreshing to have someone from his generation be so willing to listen to someone from my generation."

The Global Mentoring Programme is run by the University of Sussex Development and Alumni Relations Office and typically runs in the autumn term. Sign up to Sussex Connect at to be notified about the next programme.

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