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10 minutes, 10 questions with Yomi Adegoke

We spoke to the award-winning journalist and Guardian columnist about turning her passions into a career.

1. What did you want to be when you were 16?

Cliche, I generally didn’t know. My actual talent is in drawing and art. But I knew I didn’t want to do that. By 16, I probably had thoughts about being a lawyer - so conversation was around law - which I studied at uni. But by 20 I took a year out to get myself together, started a blog and got loans to start a magazine. Things pretty much kicked off from there.

2. How would you describe yourself?

Optimistic. I like to see the bright side of things.

3. What or who inspired you to write about the things you do?

I guess that would be my surroundings. I was born in Croydon, I’ve always lived there, so a lot of the things I write about affect inner city young black people. I like to write about things that are real to me, things that speak to me, my friends or predominantly working class areas.

4. What are you most proud of in your journey so far?

Me and my best-friend’s book, ‘Slay In Your Lane’. There was no blueprint or inspiration to help us so we did it ourselves. We wanted it to be authentic, so we tried to be strategic in making it something that could be in a mainstream market.

5. Did your culture ever clash with your passions?

Not really because I write about my culture a lot. My career and passion merge well. My parents however, wanted me to be an architect because I draw. With journalism, I was only ever nervous about being able to provide for myself - but I’ve been able to make it work.

Yomi was interviewed by Young Talent Jaya about getting into journalism at our Celebration event in 2020.

6. What advice would you give to young people unsure about university or a career path?

Research really matters! Look at what uni you want to go to, and ask yourself why. A lot of people just feel like it’s what they should do - but just make sure you make it worth your while and how it all connects. If you’re not sure think about what you will enjoy, do something that you will actually like and could take on for a career. Everyone has different directions, not going doesn’t mean you’re not smart.

7. What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?

Well life recently has been so weird. A lot happened with the book selling out during its first print release. The hype around the book, I’ll never get my head around it. Just the other day I spoke to Spike Lee!

8. What do you know now, that you would tell your younger self?

I guess to stick it out. Be very thick skinned and take rejection. Don't take things personally, keep going because it does pay off and is worth it.

9. Describe the creative and cultural industries in three words?

Open, improving and crucial.

10. What do you think has been the biggest barrier for being a journalist?

Access. The time I was writing there was no buzz around diversity, so I’m very lucky to have started when I did because I didn’t have journalist friends. People think you have to know people, but if your work is good then social media can really help.

Original interview: September 2018.