I recently had the pleasure of interviewing award-winning TV/radio presenter and host Remel London. We discussed her current and future projects, DIY media, representation and role models. Her wit and charisma are infectious!
At the age of 26, Remel London has successfully carved a name for herself as a renowned radio and TV presenter and live events host within the UK entertainment industry as well as producing distinctive live events and productions. She’s the perfect example of why youth media is so important and powerful. The second season of her amazing talk show, The Show Room, has sadly come to an end. We caught up with her to discuss role models, mainstream media failures and her ambitions.
What made you want to become a presenter? Was it something you’ve always seen yourself doing?
Growing up, I always wanted to do things within the media, performance-wise and entertainment-wise. I loved things like dance and musical theatre and always wanted to be a part of it and find out more. My general interest in all things creative attracted me to it but I guess the main thing that drove me to become a presenter was wanting to know more about production.
Previously you’ve hosted for ILUVLIVE, worked as a presenter for Link Up TV and Sky 1’s What’s Up just to name a few. You also founded the popular networking and showcase event RateMePlz in 2012 and more recently, The Show Room. Tell me a bit about how RateMePlz and The Show Room came about.
I’ve always wanted to go to networking events because I feel like they’re really beneficial. It got to a point where people always used to send me music and ask for feedback because they know I’m associated with events, like ILUVLIVE and Link Up TV. So I was like, do you know what? I’ve only been in this industry a few years. I’ve got an idea where I can create a platform where you can meet people who are more established than me and get genuine advice while everyone is having a good time. I felt like there was a need for more people to get out there and meet each other. Now it’s changed a lot and there are more opportunities for that but at the time I felt there was a need for talent to be able to meet the industry properly.
Again, The Show Room was another platform for people who have talent. I wanted it to inspire others that any little talent that you have, you can come and show it off. Whether you’re an amazing cook or amazing painter, The Show Room is a place for new talent. It’s filmed in front of a live studio audience so anything can happen and it’s always going to fun!
You describe yourself as ‘self-made’ and you’re also a strong believer in DIY media. Why do you feel it’s so important for young people to create their own media platforms and content?
There’s a lot going on out there, it’s over saturated and it’s very hard to break through. Waiting for an opportunity is, in my opinion, a waste of time. If you’ve got a talent or a skill, make the most of it. At the same time you’re practising anyway. Then when that amazing, big dream job does come you can say, “Look, I’ve done all of this by myself. Imagine what I can do with you and for you.”
Doing it yourself is a lot more fulfilling, so you’ll find more enjoyment from a product if you made it yourself. It’s also a good way to develop and grow.
Women and ethnic minorities too often aren’t represented enough, or well, by mainstream media. What’s this journey been like for you, a young black woman, trying to make a name for herself in the entertainment and media industries?
I think I’ve had a lot of support. A lot of people have noticed that I’m very self-motivated and although I do everything by myself, it’s great to know that loads of young women encourage me and cheer me on. Older women have also offered me the same support. I think when women see other women doing well, it’s always good to carry on encouraging and motivating them. I feel like the network has gotten stronger and we’ve helped each other out.
Even though it’s a male-dominated world, I don’t think you have to wait for a guy to realise how good you are. Don’t let any little comments or negative feedback get you down because there’s always room to grow and there’s a lot of support out there. There’s a lot of women’s networks, women’s award shows, women’s meetings… There’s loads of stuff going on. I feel like we’re at a great time for women to feel empowered and it should carry on.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in your career so far?
I guess, breaking into the mainstream. Once you’re associated with the urban world, they [mainstream media] feel like you can’t do anything else. I’m not really a fan of the word “urban” but it’s what I’m usually associated with. This is going to sound weird but, it’s almost like, they think you can only talk to black people because you’re black.
Yeah, I get you. They box you in.
And it’s like, OK… but I can talk to anyone! It’s annoying that sometimes they don’t see the potential in young urban stars to be popular. Like, they don’t feel we can be popular. It’s the same with music artists, they think that a rapper isn’t likely to be popular in the mainstream world, but yeah they will be because if a song is good, then it will do well regardless of who’s singing or rapping.
I feel like we need to see that in the presenters as well. Presenters are a key part of a show being good. If you enjoy the show and you enjoy the presenter, why not allow that presenter to do a lot more? Young talent needs to be given the opportunity to do new things. Like, Ant and Dec are great, you know, but how many more shows are they going to do? Haha. We need to see more young talent come through and host some of the big shows because it’s time to see new faces.
You’ve achieved a lot at a young age so you’re no doubt a role model to some young people. Who do you personally look up to?
At the minute, one of the strongest representatives for me is Oprah Winfrey. I know it sounds cheesy and it’s not just because she’s a black billionaire, but because she was unconventional at the time she came out, for a presenter. If I was given that break, that opportunity that she was given, I could do so much with it and I could be as big as Oprah or bigger.
I love that she didn’t look how they wanted her to look. At the time, there were loads of white male presenters, much older and blonde, blue-eyed people on the TV. As a minority, she came along and changed the game. She not only hosted the show but she took ownership of it as well. Having her own show, then her own production company and making her own productions, that’s exactly what I want to do.
I think I’m good at what I do, but once you see me take control of it, it will go crazy. It will get out of hand! that’s why I made The Show Room. Looking to Oprah as inspiration for taking something good, making it your own and seeing that she has a great team behind her encourages me to do the same.
On a UK scale, there are loads of women who are taking the lead, like Angie Le Mar who’s amazing. She’s a producer, a comedian and a former Choice FM presenter. Also, Clara Amfo is killing it. She’s shown that the colour of your skin is not that deep anymore and that being talented is really important.
What advice would you give to young people who want to follow in your footsteps and get into presenting?
Practice as much as possible. Learn about the industry and what you want to do. I’m learning all the time and trying to figure out who have I got to meet. Have loads of meetings, ask people for advice. Get out there and let people know who you are. Introduce yourself to people and let them know what you want to do. Ask for opportunities. Don’t be afraid to work for free because it’s all going to be a huge gain in the long run. Keep in contact with the people you meet and work with good people.
The second season of The Show Room finished last week (sadly). What’s next for you?
Well, everyone wants another season so we’re going to work on season 3! I want to work on more of my own productions now that I’ve done The Show Room. We’re looking for more people to work with. I’m also hosting loads of shows over the summer, going abroad and filming stuff. I’m going to be all over so if you’ve got an idea, get in touch and we can work together ’cause there will be loads more happening!
A big shout out to the Youth Media Agency who published the interview on their website.