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Remel London: Going for Oprah's crown

ON TOP FORM: Remel London

UK PRESENTER and host Remel London is her own worst critic. Despite interviewing some of entertainment's biggest stars or hosting some of the hottest events in the capital, she is yet to reach her personal pinnacle of success.

“If I'm in a room and there's a high ceiling, I'm just at the top of the carpet,” she says.

At just 24, Remel London is fast becoming the face (and voice) of London's young and vibrant urban scene.

If there's an event, she's hosting it and if there's a star in town, Ms London (a name fuelled by her love of her hometown), is lending her interviewing skills to it - often fronting some of the biggest interviews on Link Up TV, one of the leading youth broadcasters in the UK.

“I hope to one day be recognised as one of the UK's best broadcasters on both national radio and international television. That's what I'm working towards,” she says.

But by no means is she afraid of the hard work that comes with a goal of this kind.

“I've wanted to be involved in the music and entertainment scene for as long as I can remember,” she recalls.

“I grew up with a pretty heavy performance background. I was the type of kid who would pick up the Yellow Pages and be like, 'Mum, I want to do dance classes.'”

It's apt to note here that Remel is trained in tap, ballet, African dance, street dance, and jazz.

She continues: “All through growing up, I just tried different styles of performing and realised there wasn't one certain thing I wanted to do, so I started to pursue broadcasting and journalism.”

After completing a broadcast journalism degree at the University of Leeds, Remel hotfooted it back to London to sink her teeth deep into the bustling entertainment scene in the capital.

She gained an internship at community radio station Bang FM where she undertook the role of events coordinator - and again at Urban Development, a music development organisation, before securing work with ILuvLive.

ILuvLive, a music event frequented by the likes of UK rappers Tinie Tempah and singer Emeli Sandé, proved to be her breakout gig.

“Hosting ILuvLive was always a dream,” she says. “Working alongside people like [radio personality] Ras Kwame who I always used to listen to was a big thing for me.”

Through these experiences, which also includes regular radio show XTRA Talent on BBC 1XTRA, Remel has also founded her own monthly event to help others like her secure work in media.

“Rate Me Plz, which has been running for two years, is a showcase and networking event to provide a platform for young performers. I want people to realise that networking is so important. I want to encourage young people to pursue their career in media.”

She adds: “Since the demise of T4 (a Channel 4 programme aimed at young people) and MTV Base (a music channel focusing primarily on music from the world of R&B, hip-hop and reggae), I realised there is no outlet to showcase your talent anymore. I'm not really aiming for a station, I'm just focusing on my ideas and exploring different outlets, like online.”

In 2012, Hollywood actor Denzel Washington revealed he had told his daughter, an aspiring actress, that she would have to work harder in the film industry because she is a dark-skinned woman.

Having been in the industry since her late teens, would she say this is the case?

“100 per cent,” she replies almost instantly. “That's probably one of the hardest things I have to deal with everyday. There is a stereotype, and there has been for a while, that pretty girls are - well, it used to be white with blonde hair - but now it's light-skinned with long hair. Each time ‘pretty’ evolves, it's still not me.

“My work ethic will hopefully overcome these stereotypes. When I do breakthrough, hopefully I can be a role model for young girls like myself.”

Drawing much of her inspiration from Oprah Winfrey, Remel says the US talkshow queen stands as a beacon of hope.

“In one interview, Oprah said she wasn't stereotypically beautiful and look what she has gone on to achieve. I love the fact that she went up against haters and proved them wrong. She went on to have the highest-rated talk show. I'm not the stereotypical person you see on TV, but Oprah did it, so it proves to me I can do it too!”

Does she hope to gain something similar to her career idol?

“I can only hope,” she laughs. “Every time I do an interview I hope, much like Oprah does, to bring out a whole new side to someone. I remember one of my first interviews with UK rapper Devlin for Link Up TV. Everyone thought he was this ice cold guy from east London who didn't laugh or smile, but when I interviewed him, he did just that. I was proud.”

Her favourite interview?

“That has to be interviewing [US singer] Trey Songz,” she says. “Not for obvious reasons,” she quickly interjects. “People will automatically think it's because he's hot, but I was never into him like that. I just thought, 'he's some ladies man,' but he was really cool. I like interviews where I learn something new.”

As talk moves to future plans and finally reaching a level of success she is happy with, she replies: “I want to be respected for my craft and do it by being colourless. I don't want to be black or white. To me, Will Smith, one of my biggest inspirations, is colourless. That for me is the definition of 'made it'. That's what I'm aiming for.”

For more information about Remel London, visit: www.remellondon.com or follow @Remel_London on Twitter

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