It’s a very strange and extremely competitive career path to pursue, even when you have your foot in the door. But there is good news! A career in television presenting is achievable and it can be yours! If you want it hard enough and your focus is not just on achieving fame, you can definitely ‘make it’. My story is a strange one, but I’m doing a great job and I’m absolutely loving it.
Not quite knowing what i wanted to do, I chose to study media studies at Sheffield Hallam University. I graduated with a 2:1 and thought that a career making documentaries and doing a bit of radio presenting wouldn’t go amiss. I moved to Manchester and got an uninspiring job working for a well-known store as the denim specialist. If you see me and want to quiz me about selvage denim and twill, then I’m your man!
After six months, I left and found myself in a job as a news assistant with ITV Local in Leeds. The hour long commute from Manchester was hard, plus through the power of emailing I’d secured a guest radio slot on BBC WM in Birmingham (my hometown). Spending my weekdays commuting to Leeds and using my weekends to travel to Birmingham was pretty hard. However, I knew that after not too long I wanted to be in the Big Smoke, trying to pursue my career in documentary making and radio presenting.
I managed to ‘fall sick’ and took the day off work, as I had heard of a conference trying to get younger people and ethnic minorities into the media industry. That went well and I was offered a six week placement at the BBC on a great children’s show as a runner.
That was extended and through my running, I managed to talk to a Blue Peter producer, who wondered if I’d be interested in the job that was being made vacant by the then presenter Matt Baker. I declined initially, as it was not necessarily my dream to be a Blue Peterpresenter; I was a Grange Hill and Byker Grove kinda lad. Then, I thought about this amazing opportunity and accepted it later on. The rest is history! I became the first black male Blue Peter presenter ever.
The one great bit of advice that I can give you about how to become a TV presenter is this: know where you want to be, who you want to be like and what you have to offer the industry. People who just want to be ‘famous’ will be found out instantly.
As you can expect, this job can be absolutely amazing. There’s definitely a few perks, such as free clothes, premières, parties and travel to name a few. In my career alone, I’ve hosted the Queen, compered for the Pope, met countless boy bands and schmoozed with tons of hot female musicians. I even had dinner with the British Ambassador in Bolivia. I should actually be royalty right now! Maybe I’ll talk to my mate William Windsor.
Finally, be prepared to work hard and make sure you watch yourself back on video. Practice on a camcorder and work on your craft. Developing a career as a TV presenter is achievable and people get into it in many ways. Know your passions and follow your dream. Then send your stuff to a talent agent or agency, book meetings with them or just simply have a chat. Alternatively, you could contact TV channels personally, find if they have a talent department and don’t be afraid to aim for the top. Fortune favours the brave!