I have hosted hundreds of shows over the years but doing so after cancer, has been an uphill struggle. Last year I remember the excruciatingly painful embarrassing moment when I was asked to host a very special celebration for a Birmingham dance organisation. It had been a while since I had last presented. In fact I hadn’t done so since before my mastectomy surgery in 2017. That night, on stage in front of hundreds of special guests, I fluffed up my words at a very pinnacle moment. For some reasons my words came out in a huge jumble, everyone stared at me, whilst they waited for me to sort myself out. It was horrible! All I wanted to do was to go home, tear my dress off, go to sleep and forget it happened. Gail and Ian of ACE Dance and Music, thank you so much for being so gracious and not making a big deal out of it.
However, that incident had severely knocked my confidence and I since found it challenging even to make short videos for my Instagram page. I remember saying to my friend Petra in the summer, that I know I need to bust out of this funk and get back to presenting. She encouraged me to just do the damn thing (my words not hers). So, after much mental debate, I made the decision to just go for it. I started an Instagram page declaring my passion for presenting.
Then, as if by magic, the presenting opportunities started to roll in. First, on the 0121 Music Festival main stage in Birmingham City Centre, which celebrates all things Jamaican in Victoria Square. Then I saw an advert for BBC WM, they were looking for new voices for the station. I didn’t make it through the audition but now I am part of a special group of contributors at the station.
Next, in September I got a last-minute call to co-present the Pre-Knock Down Games at Alexander Stadium alongside the legendary Apache Indian, broadcaster Tom Ross and poet Dave Wilkes. The following week, I was given the pleasurable task of hosting at the opening of the Legacy Centre of Excellence. Not Long after that, I appeared on stage at Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre at Wassifa and Blackstory Partnership’s event ‘Knights of the Turntable’.
It was at the Alexander Stadium event that I became reacquainted with Marcia McLaughlin – Founder and Managing Editor of the Phoenix Newspaper. I had previously interviewed her for the Wassifa Caribbean TV Show in 2015. We vowed to stay in touch.
Fast forward a few months later on 16th November 2019, and I found myself co-hosting the Phoenix Newspaper 9th Annual Awards Gala alongside BBC broadcaster and Communication Manager of the Caribbean Tourist Organisation, Johnson JohnRose. Here we were joined by royalty and VIPs of the highest order. That included a Ghanaian King, a Congolese Queen, the Deputy Lord Mayor, the Mayor of West Midlands and many, many more. The night was simple magical with its larger than life performers, 3 course meals, fabulously adorned hall in Birmingham’s International Convention Centre. Marcia certainly does not do things by half. Finally, I felt redeemed. That night I went to bed smiling and thinking I had come a long way from my cringe-worthy embarrassing moment.
This event has led me to experience by far, the most joy, zeal and exhilaration I have ever felt whilst presenting (and trust me, I always have a great time). My confidence has been boosted incredibly. I feel not only am I back in full effect, but that I have grown and developed ten-fold! I am totally and completely at home presenting on stage in front a handful of people as well as thousands. Finally, I have found my way back and I feel wonderful. Thank you to all the people (I have listed you all below), who have continued to believe in me, even when I forgot how to believe in myself. Now, that I am back, I plan to continue work hard to bring jubilant energy to audiences.
Thank you to: Marcia MacLaughlin, Mykal Brown, Audrey Hayles Parkes, Dean Alexander, Paulette Francis-Green, Dawn Carr, Apache Indian, Selina Brown, Keith ‘Cipher’ Shayaam-Smith, Mark Dwayne, Dr Martin Glynn, Helga Henry, Lara Ratnaraja, Gail and Ian Parmel and to all my supportive friends, special people and family members. Please forgive me if I have not mentioned you by name – you are in my gratitude list in my heart.
I share this story to inspire you to reignite your passions by deciding to as Nike says, ‘Just do it!’ Yes, it’s a cliché but it is also very true that life is short and that no one is promised tomorrow (RIP Joan Oshun Campbell and Everton Jacobs). It’s never too late to grow and develop. Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you, dust off those dreams and work towards making them come true.
If you are looking for further inspiration, you may wish (if you are able to) wish to join me at Mprez’s Sister Talk Pan African Festival in Derby on Saturday 11th January 2020, where I will be sharing my Glow Up journey with a focus on food and fitness.
Now, sit back relax and enjoy some images from the Phoenix Awards. Photos courtesy of the Phoenix Newspaper.