Photos by Hanna Hillier
Makeup Scarlett Burton
Hair Matt Cahill
Tell us about your journey here…
I started as a print journalist – I was studying French, Spanish and Portuguese at Cambridge and took a year out to live in Buenos Aires, where I wrote for the Argentina Independent. While there I fell into my first presenting gig for an MTV show they were filming out there, and just really got a taste for it. When I came back to finish my degree, I used those contacts to get a first foothold in TV, doing bits of work experience, running and interviews for MTV during my final year (as well as for the uni TV channel we set up), until I graduated, applied for and got the MTV News production internship, which was a fantastic introduction to working on both sides of the camera. I was trained up in shooting, editing, scripting, producing, interviewing…it gave me the tools and contacts to start presenting and producing my own content, which I then sent out to so many outlets until I got a news and entertainment reporting gig at ITN. It started as overnights (midnight-8am), producing and presenting breakfast news for 4Music, and since I was working at the same time at various production companies as a researcher, it was pretty intense, but with a lot of graft it became the biggest and best springboard I could have asked for into more, meatier presenting jobs for 4Music, ITV2 and Channel 5. After that I signed with an agent and started working towards a huge variety of exciting projects with the likes of Channel 4, ITV, Disney Channel, BT Sport, Sky Sports, Vevo and Red Bull TV. It was on a Red Bull TV show in Paris that I met Roman, we hit it off straight away and by the end of 2016 had a show on ITV2 together called 2Awesome, soon after which we demo-ed together for Capital Breakfast, and here we are now!
You have just come back from Dubai – Tell us about that?
The Dubai Tourism Board sponsored a week of Capital Breakfast (hey, why not?!), so we set up a competition on the show for winners to come and join us in Dubai for a prize holiday with lots of activities and parties…all of which we needed to sample first, of course! I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty jammy getting to do the show live from Dubai every morning for a week, it was amazing…there are little perks like this every so often, and they definitely make the 4am wake-up worth it.
What are your best memories from childhood?
My family is very close, and we have a real shared sense of wanderlust, so growing up it was important for my parents that we experienced as many different cultures as possible, as a family. Rather than having Christmas at home with presents etc, most years we’d go backpacking and hostelling together around parts of Africa, South America or Asia. There are 6 of us, and they started us very young (I remember my mum breastfeeding my little brothers on 16-hour long bus journeys through the most remote parts of the world) and when we landed wouldn’t have any idea where we were going to stay, we’d play it all by ear. I guess what I’m trying to say is my parents were massive hippies, and I love them so much for it. They were the most amazing times and the most amazing memories, which piqued a curiosity that I think is probably responsible for my dream job being to become a foreign correspondent (or MI6 agent!).
What were your favourite radio stations growing up?
I listened religiously to Radio 1 growing up. I have fond memories of dad driving us to school in the mornings while Chris Moyles was on, and if we heard Carpark Catchphrase, it meant that we were late…but hey, at least we got to hear Carpark Catchphrase! We were all so invested in the content and features, which is a really special relationship you have with breakfast shows, and it feels such an honour to now be in a position to have that relationship with our listeners: we wake up with them, get ready, have breakfast and join them on their commute to start their day.
Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
I have always had very itchy feet and am constantly searching for my next stimulus (don’t get me wrong, this is not always a good thing to be honest; cue indecision and fear of commitment!), so the fact that I’m freelance and able to work on such a wide variety of programmes, for different channels and audiences, day-to-day is invigorating for me. It’s the opportunity to always be learning something new, meeting new people, visiting new places. I’ve had to compromise that a bit since starting the breakfast show, as obviously we broadcast from London at the same time every Monday to Friday, so opportunities involving travel have had to take a backseat for now, but using this platform to then work on new projects and shows after 10am (I basically have a whole day after work for more jobs…who needs sleep?!), and really push into unknown territory (factual, sports, daytime programming and beyond) is brilliant.
I’ve met some extraordinary people and made some great friends through work, so I’d actually say overall it’s them (and, let’s face it, the amount of exquisite live music I have the pleasure of taking in with them on the job) that make it all so brilliant, and just not feel like ‘work’ at all.
How do you think social media is changing the music industry?
Social media is a funny one, it’s this whole new world and we don’t really know where it’s going, the developments and evolution in the way we consume it is so fast-paced, and the future is at once an incredibly exciting but also potentially quite frightening place. This is why I’m a little conflicted in the way I feel about how it’s changing the music industry: it’s amazing that we now have so many platforms for artists to share their music, to be heard, to spread their message, to accumulate fans, advertise gigs…it’s mind-blowing. But as a result, the industry is more saturated than ever before, artists don’t get paid and credited fairly, nomatter your talent it’s much harder to make an impact, and, let’s face it, there’s a lot more shit out there than ever before! More musicians have a voice, but I think their voices are comparatively quieter than before, and they certainly don’t stick around for as long. As well as artist’s diffusing their offerings, it’s also changed the way we discover and listen to music, and in the same way social media is hugely responsible for our shorter attention spans, I think it’s very much contributed to the lack of longevity of so many creators; we’re so quick to swipe onto the next thing.
Best place you have ever travelled to for work?
Last year I did a show with Red Bull TV called Flugtag, which was an incredible opportunity to travel around Europe, America and Asia following this huge, fucking mental air show, meeting the maddest people who were trying to build manpowered flying machines to hurl off 20ft platforms into the sea. The levels of dedication were sublime, and what I found most intriguing was the way this manifested itself culturally, so every country we visited, there was something so unique about their contestants’ approach: The precision and discipline of the engineers in Hong Kong; the attention to detail and ambition of the Swiss; the downright infectious competitive spirit we drank in from the US competitors. I think overall that trip to the States was the best because we were shooting in Boston and Louisville, Kentucky over a 10 day period, so made a bit of a road trip of it with the production company (the amazing guys at UMTV), stopping off in New York for a few days of fun. Seeing some really vast disparities – culturally, economically, socially – upon arriving in Louisville from what we’d experienced in Boston and New York was eye-opening; I learned a lot over the course of that trip.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the industry since being a part of it?
Maybe it’s naïve of me, but I –and I think many others, especially this year- realised that sexual discrimination is alive and well in our industry (and of course in the workplace across the board). It’s no secret that so many of the companies I work for have very few (or absolutely no) women working at the top of the chain, so few female producers, and female presenters are often represented and treated in a way which is antiquated and wrong. They are reluctant and scared to give women opportunity and thrive, they see it as a risk, and for us to get ahead we have to work twice as hard, we have to fight, which in turn I too often hear us called bitches for doing. On a more gross level, over the course of my career, I have heard so regularly – and have myself experienced – many incidents of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace (I include here of course daily micro-aggressions, which build up, and feed into a culture where it feels like they’re OK, or just laddish and harmless, and that we should just get on with it, accept). I was shocked when I first became a part of this industry, and have felt galvanised this year as so many stories have been made known. It’s difficult to speak out, we jeopardise our jobs and reputations in a way most men will never know, and we have to pick our battles if we want to make an impact, but we have to: I feel it’s my responsibility to young female broadcasters to make the industry better, as the women before me have done; I can’t be complicit with a system that’s not right.
Where do you most feel yourself?
Ha, this question is so hinged on knowing what it means to ‘feel yourself’. I have no idea! My friends often say I seem most relaxed and comfortable when I’m at home in Newcastle, surrounded by my family, which is true…but then I think I feel most stimulated and alive when I’m travelling with some of my closest friends, with whom I feel so excited to share a curiosity about the world. I have always been a workaholic (all the way back to primary school, I was such a precocious child), so equally I’d say I’m giving the best of myself and fulfilling whatever potential might be in there when I’m working hard on project I’m passionate about and learning something new along the way.
How has your personal style changed over the last few years?
I’ve learned to give fewer fucks about how I look, especially since starting breakfast…I just value getting that extra bit of sleep in the mornings now too much to bother with make-up or nice clothes at 5.30am when we start our production meeting. I think most poignantly for me though, there was a turning point this year when I stopped straightening my afro hair. For the last decade or so I’ve pretty much always worn it straight, which when I was young was all I wanted. I just wanted to look the same as the other girls at school, I envied their hair so much, and when you’re young, fitting in is everything. It’s taken a long time, and a measure of confidence that some may find strange for something as silly as a hairstyle, but learning to embrace my differences and celebrate them – to feel proud of my heritage – is one of the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced. When it comes to style, I think one of my most important realisations over the last few years is that no one really needs to give a shit about how you look except for you; so go for what you like: you’ll feel comfortable, confident, powerful, and that’s what matters.
Favourite restaurant in London?
Oooooh tough one! I’ve always had an amazing time and food at Duck and Waffle, and the fact that it’s open 24hours and has such an exquisite view makes for the most fun. Peruvian cuisine is my favourite, so Ceviche in Soho and Old Street are always a treat, while Tierra Peru on Essex Road is pretty much my local and so so brilliant.
What are some of your favourite things to do in your spare time?
I love to dance; I grew up doing ballet and contemporary, and danced in a reggaeton club for extra money while I lived in Buenos Aires. For me, it’s the most liberating, visceral and satisfying way of expressing yourself, and whether it’s going to tango classes, dancing salsa or cumbia in a club, or getting involved in social dances like samba at Carnival while travelling, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. One of my dream jobs would actually be to travel the world learning the national dances of every country I visit, as a way of exploring and understanding their peoples and cultures.
Also in my spare time, whenever I have Sundays off, I’ve been volunteering for just over 2 years now at a refugee project in Hackney called Akwaaba: a social drop-in for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants at all stages of the process, where I work with the kids group.
Which artists do you put on to unwind after a long stressful day?
Tom Grennan, Khalid, Hare Squaed, Daniel Caesar, Majik, Ray BLK, Lana Del Rey, Jessie Ware
What’s been the biggest obstacle in your career and how have you learned to overcome it?
Realising that failure is not necessarily a negative thing. Instead, I’ve learned to see knockbacks as an opportunity to recalibrate and work out what we can do next with the tools we’ve got. I don’t really set hard and fast goals anymore; I try to work hard and work smart and keep reassessing where we’re at.
Also, as a presenter, it took me a long time to realise that there’s no point in imitating other presenters; it’s easier said than done, but working out who you are and what makes you different and interesting is such a big step, and once you’re comfortable with that, then you start to really thrive.
If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I was thinking this while I was in a club the other night… Honestly, I’d tell my younger self to stop holding my friends’ hands and walking in a chain through the middle of the dancefloor looking for a better place to dance. This is it, it’s the same everywhere, there’s nothing more, and you’re just annoying people by bustling past them. JUST STOP AND DANCE, THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS.
Whats the best advice you have ever been given?
My producers are going to hate me for this, but Ricky Gervais once said: ‘If something comes into your head, just say it. We’re not on this planet very long, you may well get it out there, you might never have another chance.’
Follow Vick on Instagram @vicknhope