Our generation is part of an era of young professionals who love the thought of a diversified, creative career. We’re all anxious to put our best foot forward and excel at platforms that became household names to us as children. Ultimately, most of us hope to transition that success into our own brands and become our own bosses when the time is right.
Both the internet and new technology have gifted us with the capability of worldwide connection, in combination with the ability to create standout work without the necessity of a huge budget. The downfall to this, however, is that sometimes we forget how much effort and time goes into perfecting a craft.
As a presenter and DJ at MTV UK, Tinea Taylor is an example of what it means to invest that time and effort, excel on a major platform with the skills she honed, and ultimately begin diversifying her fields of expertise in her industry. She spoke with REVOLT TV about how she kickstarted her career and the steps she took to stand out.
What made you pursue video journalism? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do growing up. I never had a plan B. I loved watching presenters like June Sarpong, Miquita Oliver and Denise Van Outen. Not just because they were talented and entertaining, but because they just seemed like regular girls like me and it made me believe that I had the chance to do it, too.
Describe your professional journey and how you landed at MTV. It started back in University. I studied Media, Film and Television and was able to use the camera equipment whenever I wanted, so I used to get my friends to film me doing vox pops around the local shopping center—that’s basically when you bother people in the street asking them questions literally about anything. I just needed to practice being in front of the camera. Surprisingly, they were lovely and said yes! After leaving Uni, I got a job presenting for an online magazine called Dropout UK where I interviewed stars like Boyz II Men, Cassie, Tinie Tempah and Miguel. Then I got my first radio show on a station called Rinse FM where I presented the Breakfast Show and then later I joined Kiss FM UK where I now currently present. Having DJ’d internationally for Kiss FM UK and other brands like Puma and G-Star RAW, I think it just helped me to get more recognized as a presenter, so when a job at MTV News came about, I got it. That’s the short of it (laughs)!
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on with or outside of MTV? Last summer, I was part of a campaign with ASOS x Puma to launch one of their latest collections. I worked with some great women on set, from dancers to models and personal trainers. It was a long day but the outcome of the video was great. I’m also part of a collective called Grl Pwr Gang put together by a lady named Kirsti Hadley. Our motto is ‘Girls Helping Girls’; we’re all about women working together and helping each other. We were lucky enough to work with Accessorize on their Autumn/Winter 2017 collection. We all had a different trend to represent and we shot some amazing pictures which were used globally so I’m really proud of that.
There’s more that goes into what you do than just talking into the camera. Describe the work and preparation involved in video-journalism. So many people think that being a presenter is literally just talking, but you have to have a certain level of confidence to even stand in front of a camera, whether it be live or pre-recorded. You also have to be aware of your delivery and make sure that it matches the tone of your work. I’ve had to deliver a piece of content to camera during a debate show once that was quite serious and political, so you need to make sure you aren’t offending your audience. Learning lines is also something every presenter has to do. Sometimes there isn’t an auto-cue on set, so you have to know the script off by heart, which takes times to learn.
When it comes to perfecting your craft, what type of techniques or practice do you work at most? I always say just doing the actual job is the best practice you’re ever going to get. Whether that be doing a live radio show, your links on-air are only going to get better the more you do them. Also, interviewing artists can be quite daunting when you first start out. I’ve found that over the years I’ve become far more relaxed and in control, which then means I can actually start enjoying it.
Do you find that women are beginning to see more opportunities in your field of work? If there is more to be done regarding equal opportunity, what do you recommend? I feel like we still have such a long way to go in regards to women in the industry being seen as equal or just ‘as good’ as men, but I think it’s getting better. I also think women are creating their own opportunities and kicking down doors so that they stay working. Whether that be creating their own blogs or websites and adding unique content to them (which then gets brands interested in working with them), or women being each other’s cheerleaders and sharing one another’s work on social media, which can create an opportunity for them. I’ve seen this happen so many times and I think it’s great.
How has mentorship played a role in your career progress? I’ve been so fortunate enough to have a few mentors in the industry from the beginning. A broadcaster and A&R director named Alec Boateng really helped me in the early stages of my radio career. He taught me that it’s not a race, and that I need to really think about the journey and the fact that I wanted a career and not just a job. Another person that has helped immensely is Dumi Oburota. He’s the CEO of Disturbing London Records [and] I’ve seen him build that label from the ground up. He’s shaped and molded artists like Tinie Tempah and Yxng Bane. He doesn’t really know it but he taught me about working hard and ‘staying on my grind’ as he would put it. So I definitely think that having a mentor is such a great thing, not just at the start of your career either but throughout. Stay learning always!
Intent on diversifying her career, Taylor only plans on allowing her hard work to open new doors. She believes that when you’re focused on being the best at what it is you’ve chosen to do, that opportunities present themselves accordingly. Never one to make an announcement before the accomplishment, Taylor says we’ll have to wait and see what she has up her sleeve next!
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