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Lape Banjo: Meet the new face of British TV


YOUNG REPORTER Lape Banjo is steadily building a name for herself in the television industry.

The 23-year-old, who is currently enrolled on the Media Trust’s London 360 programme which takes six young people from across London twice a year and puts them through a TV, press and radio bootcamp, has been described by mentors as “reporting star of our future”.

Her news segments, which air on the Community Channel and on London Live, have been hailed by viewers and the industry alike.

Lape, whose parents are from Nigeria, hopes to become an African foreign correspondent and change perceptions of “Africa being this vulnerable continent”.

“Hardly any credit given to the role of Africa for its natural resources, and its tolerant attitude towards centuries of exploitation,” she said.

Here, she talks to The Voice about her journey from budding lawyer to media all-star.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in media?
I initially wanted to be a lawyer because I love debating and I am generally quite inquisitive. I soon found out that a career in law would’ve been really boring and was quite cliché. I wanted a challenge and to also pursue something different. I wanted to do something that I was good at, but I also enjoyed, and like I said I love talking, writing and debating. So for me a career in media was the only way for me to achieve this.

You come from a family of lawyers, were they supportive of your decision to pursue a career in media?
My family have been extremely supportive, and I think coming from a family of lawyers makes it even easier to pursue a career in media. They are constantly interested in what I do daily, the people I meet and so on. More importantly, it diversifies our conversations. Not everybody wants to come home to discuss litigation and so on. They always want my opinion on things that are going on. Their support has been a massive motivation for me.

You’re also a keen drummer - the only female drummer in your church – is that a possible career path too?
[Laughs] I had a bit of an Alexander Fleming moment on the drums it was actually an accidental discovery. I have played since the age of 13 and although I love it, I have never really thought of a career in drumming. The only other female drummer I admire is the Venzella Joy, who drums for Beyoncé. Unless I am as good as her, I think drumming would remain a hobby for now.

You were born in Nigeria and recently explored rising entrepreneurship in the country. What would you attribute to the rise in entrepreneurs in recent years?
Nigerians by nature are two things; natural born leaders, and very hard workers. Nobody sticks to one job, or relies on one source of income. In a country of filled with opportunities and competition, everybody wants to be their own boss. We also love to keep up with the rest of the world. A combination of all this, makes it a hub for business, entertainment, fashion and so much more. More recently there has been and increased re competition between Nigerians living in Nigeria, and Nigerians living in the diaspora who also want to contribute to a thriving, yet developing market.

You’ve worked at a plethora of well-known companies throughout your professional ascent, which have you enjoyed most and why (London 360 excluded)
[Laughs] London360 has been great, but other than that I enjoyed my time at Sky News, it was a great platform for learning, and experiencing the world of news. I also met amazing people, and colleagues who have taught me a lot of the things I know now.

Naturally, you have a passion for all things Africa and would like to become an African foreign correspondent. Prime Minister David Cameron was recently caught on camera calling Nigeria “corrupt”. Why do you think Africa gets such a bad rep in mainstream press?
Africa has always been the victim of generalisation and stereotyping. Like every other country in the world, we all have stereotypes. However, it becomes an issue when there is hardly any credit given to the role of Africa for its natural resources, and its tolerant attitude towards centuries of exploitation. Instead we are called corrupt. I think the bad press Africa receives is to maintain the status quo of Africa being this vulnerable continent. However what is left out is that every country in the world has levels of corruption.

Who inspires you in the industry and why?
My main inspirations are Femi Oke of CNN, Afua Hirsch of Sky, and finally Stacey Dooley. Femi and Afua are unapologetically African and are not afraid to express their opinions. They have also reached the pinnacles within the media industry. This is a motivation for me as they are example of black women who have broken boundaries. Stacey Dooley’s style of documentary, and telling stories always captures me, and she is a major influence in my own style of telling stories.

What are your views on the representation of black women in mainstream news and media?
I do not believe that we are well represented in the mainstream media, and when we are it is very identical. If it is not the ‘angry black female’, then it’s the token black girl. However black females aren’t all the same, there is more to us than just our colour.

You’ve been touted as “one to watch” by London 360 executive producer and manager Jasmine Dotiwala, how does that make you feel? Is it daunting or motivating?
That makes me feel very motivated, and I have high hopes of rising to challenge.

In five years, where do you see yourself?
I hope to either be a producer for a news segment on Africa, and culture, or Africans in the diaspora. Alternatively I would like to be a news reporter on African politics, or International news.

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