unseen: reggie yates in conversation


Just short of a year ago I set foot in the publishing world for the first time, visiting the glorious offices of Hachette UK at their Inside Story event. The atmosphere was amazing, and it was there that I realised publishing was definitely the right thing for me. I also met a lovely young lady named Megan on that day; we sat next to each other and got on pretty well, found each other on Facebook, and the rest, as they say, is history. We may only have met up a handful of times since then, but it feels as though we have been friends for years. We have been able to support each other in our mission to work in publishing, and a month or so ago we both made those first steps - she started her first 'proper' publishing job, and I started my MA in publishing. When the opportunity to attend a book event together came up, we couldn't say no - even if it was just to pretend like we were there as publishers. The book event in question was Reggie Yates in conversation with Clara Amfo about his new book, Unseen. It was hosted by Penguin Live at the absolutely beautiful Round Chapel in Hackney as part of Black History Month.

I have grown up with Reggie being a part of my life. He was on the telly when I was a kid (The Crust, anyone?), and I always loved listening to him on the radio. In recent years he has turned his hand to making documentaries. I wouldn't say that I'm a particularly big documentary watcher, but there is something about this man's programmes that draws me in and keeps me there. He has always felt like an incredibly genuine person to me and it's something that really comes across on screen - he deals with difficult subjects in a very sensitive way.

I don't really know what I was expecting from the evening, other than I knew it would be interesting. But hearing Reggie speak about his success, some of his most difficult experiences, and how being 'Mr Saturday Night' wasn't for him made me respect him so much more than I already did. He has this drive to do the best that he can, and I don't think that anyone will get in his way - he says he's only at number two on his ten-point-plan, which is pretty remarkable. You really get the sense that he puts his all into whatever he does, and that it can be draining at times, but he does it because he loves it and because he believes it is important. He does not make these programmes because he cares about himself, or his position - as he says, you don't make documentaries for the money - but because he feels these stories need to be shared.

I am sure that I could write for hours about the words that were said and the laughs that were had, but I will not do that to you. Instead I will just say thank you to Penguin Live for organising the event, Clara Amfo for conducting such a wonderful interview, and Reggie Yates for being so open and, to be quite frank, one of the loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (yes, ten year old me - you better believe it). Oh, and one other thing: go and buy his book. You won't be disappointed.

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