A TEENAGE OBSESSION
It all started with Kate Adie.
Growing up during ‘The Troubles’, bombs and beatings were the norm; bloodshed topped the news agenda every night. In those days, Kate Adie was the BBC’s chief news correspondent and the conflict drew her to Northern Ireland. Amidst the despair, she became a familiar celluloid presence…
When grownups asked,
‘What do you want to be?
I would say, without fail,
‘A reporter…like Kate Adie.’
SCRIPT PROMPTING: HOW NOT TO
Throughout university I fired off letters to broadcasters in the UK, begging them for work experience. I spent holidays sleeping on friends’ floors, working for free, and harassing anyone willing to teach me about journalism.
By graduation, I had worked for the BBC in various bureaux across the UK. I had also trained at local radio stations in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Luckily, it was enough experience to land my first job, as a production assistant at CNN.
Stepping onto the first rung of the career ladder, I spent a year making coffee and scrolling the teleprompter (or script machine – see photo). During this time, I perfected the art of reading a newspaper while operating the machine by foot. However, this is not a talent I would recommend to aspiring producers: once (if I’m being totally honest, it was probably a bit more) I was so engrossed in an article that I forgot to scroll the presenter’s script, which meant she was rendered speechless live on air. I got into BIG TROUBLE.
After scrolling thousands of scripts and dragging myself out of bed at 3am, finally, I was promoted…
A PASSION FOR ARCHITECTURE
design360 is CNN’s flagship design programme about fashion and architecture. As a Producer on the show, I directed shoots across Europe and the U.S.
In Los Angeles, I met Lawrence G. Paull, production designer of Bladerunner; we drank tea and looked at his original set designs for the 1980s film. I also spent an afternoon with animator Ray Harryhausen, the famous animator and director of 1960s epic, Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen took me to this secret cove where he kept all the famous puppets from his movies.
Working on ‘design 360’, I became passionate about modern architecture and was lucky enough to interview celebrated architects as they unveiled their newest buildings. I also interviewed luminaries from the fashion world, such as Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood.
KATE ADIE’S SPIRIT PREVAILS
Eventually, the spirit of Kate Adie prevailed: no more feature programming. Off I went to cover the news on Emmy-award winning Channel 4 News. After the initial terror of working alongside some of Britain’s best journalists, I soon started producing hard-hitting reports. In 2004, I won a mental health award for a film I produced about suicidal patients at risk.
In 2007, I went to work on More 4 News, where I was trained to do lighting, camerawork and editing. Embarking on solo trips across the UK and Europe, I filmed and reported my own stories. I exclusively revealed that doctors on the NHS performed ‘virginity repair’ operations, and showed that adoption breakdowns were on the rise.
A SPELL IN SOUTH EAST ASIA
Until recently, Thailand was my home.
For three years I worked in Bangkok as a producer for the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), covering South East Asia.
From my bureau, we revealed the truth behind the surrogacy business in Thailand. I also produced stories about political dissidents in Vietnam, human rights abuses in Cambodia and problems facing the Khmer Rouge trial.
WOMEN & CHILDREN
Throughout my career, I have sought to make stories about women, children and gender more prevalent across the news agenda. Adoption, children in care, female genital mutilation, male circumcision, domestic violence, sex work and female alcoholism are some of the topics I have covered.
As a feminist, I blog about the frustrations of raising a daughter who is obsessed with pink and princesses.
Recently we ‘upped sticks’ and moved to Moscow.
At the moment, I am trying to avoid Babushki (Russian grannies) who repeatedly admonish me for not dressing my children properly (‘What, only TEN layers? His ears aren’t covered. Where’s her scarf?’) I’m also grappling with the Russian language; I hope that one day I can say more than, ‘A banana, a cucumber and a loaf of bread, please.’ посмотрим! (We’ll see!)