I was 14 when I told my parents I didn’t want to do the family route and study science. I finally admitted them I wanted to write and it freaked them a bit, because they didn’t know how to get me where I wanted to be, whereas in pharmacy/nursing they know people.
You can consider me the black sheep in the family if you will. Myself and my cousin both take media courses – herself journalism and me studying Broadcast Media Production.
I won’t lie, I was scared breaking out in the media industry. Taking an easy route into a job wasn’t what I wanted to do and I wanted a challenge. Since joining Spark Sunderland in 2013, I’ve clocked up a whole calendar of hours (I’ve stopped counting since 150) of radio, and working behind the scenes. I love doing it. I love choosing the songs for playlist for my Urban Show on a Monday, choosing what content I should put in my daytime show, being in control of all the specialist programming, I just love it.
But the one thing that bothers me? I’m one of the seven ethnic minority in the station. Media is not solely focused on BAME [Black and Ethnic Minority], and many just assume to put us in the Urban setting.
So, when given the chance to go down to London to attend a masterclass held by BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, I jumped at the chance. It was a masterclass hosted by creative access, a programme committed to providing the best advice, experience and internship for BAME industry beginners.
The first day in London, I panicked. Well, of course I did, I was in King’s Cross and was about to burst into tears because I didn’t have enough money to catch the tube home. Oh how stupid I was, thinking that I could be so comfortable down in London on my own.
Eventually, I got to my aunt’s house. And my cousin was so excited for this masterclass that she wasn’t even going to. “You’re going to make it, Steph, believe me.” I tried. I really did.
On the day, I wanted to look really good. I mean, I’m going to my future workplace, I wanted to stand out. Before making down in London I went to Newcastle and bought a whole new outfit, that screamed “I KNOW WHAT I WANT AND I’M GOING TO GET IT.”
I mastered the tube with swagger, walked triumphantly down Oxford Street, and once I made it to Broadcasting House…
I took a couple steps back to McDonald’s to eat two meals. Stressfully.
What am I doing? Is it worth it? I kept walking past the building. I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it.
I can do it.
I give myself a pep talk, and immediately went through the doors.
Instantly I was directed to a line for the masterclass, and noticed everyone was wearing trainers and jeans. I was wearing low Mary Janes and a skirt. I panicked again.
Being waited momentarily in the café (with the BBC shop just casually there) it hit me. I was miles away from home in a place I don’t know, wearing a skirt I was slowly starting to despise and heels that were biting into my ankles. I couldn’t fit in.
Someone brushed past me and asked “is this for the masterclass?” And dumbly, I nodded.
To be continued…