Reggie Yates says don’t forget the unsung heroesFebruary 11, 2019
The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Reggie Yates says don’t forget the unsung heroes
- Reggie Yates, 35, is a BBC TV presenter and documentary maker from London
- He recalls attending acting classes as a child with other underprivileged kids
- He shared the importance of recognizing selfless people who help communities
Reggie Yates, 35, first found fame as a child actor before moving to Radio 1 as a DJ. Now a BBC TV presenter and documentary maker, he lives in London.
My older sister and I didn’t have much to do as kids. We grew up on an inner-London council estate. We both had way too much energy and Mum wanted us out of the house, so when she heard about a woman who taught acting to kids in Islington at £2.50 a lesson, she made us go.
That woman was Anna Scher, and her lessons were quite unique. There we were, a bunch of underprivileged kids aged between six and 15, many of us the kids of single mums on benefits, and Anna would stand at the front of the class teaching us not only drama, but philosophy, too. I remember discussing the murder of Stephen Lawrence with her when I was ten.
TV presenter Reggie Yates, 35, (pictured) highlighted the importance of showing recognition to selfless people who help their local community
I loved acting, but the idea that we were all worth listening to was what had a really profound effect on me. Teenagers are notorious for letting peer pressure dictate what they do, but Anna taught me that what makes you different is the most valuable thing about you. You have to be yourself, even if other people don’t approve of you.
There’s a big conversation about how acting is dominated by the privileged few. It’s a problem, but it makes the work of superhumans like Anna Scher all the more important. How do kids like me get a chance without people like her?
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I got my first part at the age of eight, in the C4 sitcom Desmond’s. Suddenly I was on TV every week, but it didn’t turn my head, largely because neither Mum nor my friends let it. I still had to do the washing up and my mates still called me banana foot when I played football.
Now Mum has started her own dance school for children, which is her way of giving back to the community. Every neighbourhood has that one person who’s famous locally for being selfless, running a club or giving their time. We need to recognise them more, and say thank you.
Reggie Yates is supporting the Aviva Community Fund which offers help and funding for inspirational causes, enabling them to build stronger communities together (aviva.uk/winners).
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