Interview by Beth Marshall
Hey gurl! So I’ve known you for years but for the people who are just catching on to how amazing you are, introduce yourself
Omg we've actually known each other for ages, aww Bethany you can't be out here making me blush like that. Thank you hun you've seen the growth. Good, bad and the ugly lmao. I go by the name of Monikah Lee, the founder and creator of The Talks With Monikah Lee talk show. But before anyone took my name seriously I was known as that 'girl' from Bkchat for the longest while, (I ain't complaining though it’s opened many doors). Since then I've taken advantage of this opportunity and built a career as an events host, radio & TV personality by working with the likes of iluvlive, Link up TV, BK CHAT LDN, O2 Go think Big, Bacardi, Crazy colors, Wireless, Boxpark & Waitrose to name a few. I absolutely love talking and making people smile and honestly I pinch myself sometimes when people trust me to host their events. I've been blessed to do this full time and actually get paid. Do not get it twisted theres always more money fi mek tho lol.
How did you get started in the creative industries?
I know it might sound cliche but I was born to perform, for the 1st 12 years of my life my mum entered me into baby modeling competitions, beauty pageants, I was even a singer lol, I attended drama and dance school, I was even in commercials at one stage of my life and then life hit me and to be quite frank there wasn't many opportunities in the early 2000's that encouraged and motivated young people to choose vocational subjects. Honestly, there wasn't many high profile successful black women that was in my face that showcased that non - conventional jobs can bring about success. Fast forward to the present, I wanted too create a Talk Show inspired by 'BBC Question Time' but no one was taking me serious and i didn't feel as if people respected my craft and reflecting now i can say it was ahead of its time. So I built up my profile as a host by crossing the atlantic and going to Jamaica and did a backstage review of artists such a Mavado, Beenie Man, Masicka, Bounty Killer, I Octane & so many more. Even though I was such an amateur I knew I had to create my own space regardless if people liked it or not or if I was considered as 'elite or not' and that was my entry into the industry. A year later I joined Flames radio as a radio personality but I knew the SPACE was my limit so I continued to progress as a presenter and ended up having my own Street Quiz show on Link Up Tv which eventually transpired to me working with UKs controversial Talk Show BK Chat LDN and God has been amazing and have brought many opportunities my way. Once you step out of your comfort zone and start to walk in your purpose the universe will align to give you what you pray and work hard for.
So the second 2018 instalment of Talks With Monikah Lee is fast approaching. What can we expect from it? Topics, discussions, guests etc...
I am actually so excited for my Black History Month Edition, I feel as if more people are understanding my vision and the support has been immense as of lately.
The Talks With Monikah Lee Show is filmed in front of a live audience; providing a platform for the panellists and attendees to discuss social, political and engaging issues that are affecting our society. The no holds barred discussion opens an honest conversation in a safe place with a handpicked panellist that are doing exceptional in their respective fields and can incite thought provoking topics to educate and motivate others. My show is aimed to give people a voice, lets calm down on the twitter fingers, negative YouTube comments for one evening and encourage my audience to say it with their CHEST. I will have the 2 x Red Bull Culture Clash and international DJ @sirdjcorey, talented female dj keshia G and the veteran Dj Ruff n tuff who's captured many hearts with his gift to play music to keep the energy and vibes going. There will be many special guests in attendance and a great opportunity for networking. I am happy to introduce my confirmed panelist;
Omega- Axsal - An exceptional public, motivational speaker that highlights the importance of understanding black radicalism and shining light on the history of radical Black politics and inequalities they face in society. understanding black radicalism and shining light on the history of radical Black politics.
Controversial social media influencer – Zeze Millz is a host and Youtuber who is widely known for ‘saying all the things you’re thinking’. Founder of headscarf diaries and Zeze Milz Show an online platform that discuss numerous of topics and issues that are often omitted from trending topics/ mainstream news.
Chante Joseph is a Politics enthusiast, speaker and writer for well known magazines such as wonderlandmag, crackedmagazine and DK online magazine.
You previously presented the controversially brilliant talk show BK Chat Ldn. How necessary do you think it is for shows like this to be seen and heard in the culture?
It is so necessary to provide entertainment that represents our evolving society and diverse talents. Majority of my upbringing successful black people were prominently shown excelling in sports or music such as the funky, garage era and even in that area I could specifically list all names on one hand. Right now as black creatives the doors are opening wider in terms of creating our own opportunities, we have seen this with the wave of podcasts, variety of event hosts, music artist, comedians and social media has been the driving force behind this.
I can honestly say I've felt a sense of belonging and unity amongst the creative industry but that’s because i know my position and my worth and that comes into play in a positive way. Time and time again I've been proven that there isn't one way to succeed, there are many routes that can be taken and BkChat is an excellent example of this. Easily BkChat have proven that Independent, original content can strive, they didn't wait to be commissioned by big brands they had a vision and it fell through. This controversial show showcased relatability, gives opportunity to potential creators that success can be achieved through, consistency, hard work and providing good content. Its vital in understanding talent extends further than what meets the eye or whats at face value. It was beautiful to witness the production team being hailed for their work and efforts and many of the casts have utilised their position to pursue their career which is exactly what is needed!
Name some creatives you think are killing it right now and why…
There are so many creatives that are killing it and I feel so guilty to list a few because the pool of people have expand within the last 2 years. Maybe 5 years ago I would have struggled to answer this question but right now we are in a good place and for me these people I absolutely adore, respect and they inspire me to live my truth and purpose:
The common consensus for all these creatives is that their work ethic is undeniably exceptional, they all carved their own lanes that is a true reflection of their personality and passion. I am lucky enough to know some of these people personally and witnessed their growth and I can admit they're one of the most genuine people I know. Its one thing to be great at what you do but another to inspire a nation that success isn't can be attained in multiple of ways.
What is your Unique Selling Point?
I am very confident, I embrace my Jamaican roots to the core because i am so proud of my upbringing and culture. I think its so important to normalise your hobby, interest and reality and this has worked to my advantage. The worse is when you create a barrier between yourself and your audience by making them feel that your superior and not relatable. This has helped me to create a strong and positive fan base.
I love to help and I live by the motto ' Advice is free' so I'm always open to engage with my audience to make them be better version of themselves. I see competition as positive so ill never be scared to help others that wants to excel in presenting and this has brought about great partnerships and relationships.
Now more than ever we see women (black women in particular) coming to the forefront and ‘slaying in their lane’, what would be your key piece of advice to women finding themself in the creative industries?
NEVER COMPROMISE YOUR MORALS FOR TEMPORARY GRATIFICATION!
Stick to what you believe in. You don't need to be water and change your shape to fit in with others perception or idea of you. BE YOU & DO YOU whatever that is.
It's very important for black women to build a tribe of like - minded women, to have a supportive network that promotes, supports the hell out of each other. In order to make positive change we need to have family and friends in a position to drive that change.
We are a force to be reckoned with when we move as a unit, we need to work together and help to push each other to reach heights some may see as unrealistic. We live in a society that doesn't favour meritocracy, so it'll be ignorant to believe that hard work is the sole driving force to success.
So you’re hosting shows, putting on your own and regularly doing radio, what future ventures do you have in store?
I always get nervous when I get asked this question. I will be branching out to provide diverse #TWML events such as parties, brunches, work shops as I feel its important to create events that reaches the mass audience. The last six months I've been working on an a super dope project called U.G.L.Y Tribe (Understanding Girls Like You) alongside my business partner Letricia Black to create a safe space to support and inspire young women to thrive in their truth with a specific focus on marginalised and at risk groups. This will take form in a variety of workshops aimed at giving women the essential skills and tools in life to succeed. Also I've got loads of dope collabs on the way in terms of fashion and hair so get used to seeing me more!