The radio presenter on raising a black daughter in today’s society and becoming a ‘bridge’ between the Caribbean and African communities
CLAIRE CLOTTEY is one busy woman. When she’s not hosting award shows, running a natural hair project or working as a youth development consultant, she’s stirring interesting discussions on community radio station The Beat London (formally BANG Radio) with her popular show, The Conversation. “I do a lot,” she laughs.
Clottey is a seasoned presenter and has hosted prestigious events for Natural Hair Week UK and the Black Filmmakers International Film Festival.
The professional talker has quickly grabbed her audience’s attention receiving the Favourite Online Presenter award from Screen Nation Digital Is Media Awards 2015. She then went on to host Screen Nation Awards 2016 alongside black British favourites Kojo Anim and Brenda Emmanus. Recent award nominations include Favourite Presenter for Divas of Colour Awards 2016 and Role Model of the Year for Women4Africa awards.
Always in ‘work mode’, she says she finds it hard to switch off – she even tries to interview me while I’m interviewing her.
“Being interviewed is awkward as hell,” admits Clottey, who is the daughter of a Ghanaian father and a mixed Ghanaian and German-Swiss mother. “I automatically assume the role as the driver. It’s really weird for me.”
With her Sunday morning radio show, which covers news, lifestyle and cultural discussions with live callers, Clottey encourages her audience to reflect and discuss sensitive socio-political subjects that are effecting our community and empowers her audiences to be solution focused.
“I’m a proud Ghanaian but I have a huge appreciation for the Caribbean community. I like to think of myself as a bridge and part of the solution of building a strong pan-African nation. I want us to connect. We’re stronger in numbers. So any opportunity where I can start a dialogue with people from the African and people from the Caribbean community and solidify that relationship, I’m there.”
Clottey, 33, is very passionate about issues affecting young people and diverse/minority communities. In the early 00s she worked as a youth offending officer, then a teenage pregnancy sexual health advisor and later an integrated children’s services manager.
She continues to work with a range of schools and charities as a mentor, training facilitator and advocate for vulnerable families needing support, as well as supporting the Ghanaian UK Based Achievement Awards (GUBA) Foundation.
Her love for caring for others stemmed from her own family life, where she took on the role as the eldest sibling in her family.
“I have an older brother who is blind, death and dumb and epileptic and diabetic, so I took on the role as the senior sibling because my brother’s disability prohibited him from doing so,” the mother-of-one explains. “So with that, I had always secretly wanted someone to look up to. So I want to be out there giving other young people the opportunity to look up to someone.”
She continues: “I’ve always been able to relate to young people. I’ve got two younger sisters who I always say are my first children, so I’ve always been comfortable in that sort of situation.
“I was born maternal,” adds Clottey, who will be presenting the British Urban Film Festival (BUFF) on September 18. “I was always broody – I think I was born broody. I grew up thinking ‘I want my child or my children to grow up in a world with good people, and they’re good people because I’ve helped them be good’.”
And as the mum to a five-year-old girl, who she calls ‘Pudding’, Clottey is already encouraging an “open” and “transparent” relationship with the youngster – something she didn’t necessarily always have with her own parents.
“I’m investing a lot of my time and energy on her now because one day I will become redundant.”
One thing she hopes to tackle with her daughter from a young age is talking about the birds and the bees.
“This is an issue within in the black community that is quite close to my heart,” Clottey affirms.
“I went to a Catholic convent school and had older generation parents. We don’t talk about sex. You couldn’t watch EastEnders with people kissing and be in the same room as your parents. Everyone got uncomfortable; you had to go get a drink of water. It just wasn’t the done thing.
“However, I am very passionate about having an early open conversion with my daughter. Not just about sex but relationships, understanding love, appropriate touch, and boundaries. I feel like so many young people are being exploited or have a false understanding of what love and affection and respect is.
“I don’t want her to learn about that from porn or from some friend in the playground making up rubbish,” she cringes.
And although she’s separated from Pudding’s father, the presenter makes sure to support and encourage their relationship.
“I strongly believe that he’s going to be her first love and if I don’t enable her to have a loving relationship with her dad, then some foolish boy will try and teach her what love is, and it will be false and not good enough. I don’t want her to settle for less. I want her to feel really strong in her understanding of love.”
Clottey, who has a film and broadcasting production degree from London Metropolitan University, recently co-produced a radio documentary on absentee fathers.
Growing Up Without Dad, a one-hour doc presented by BBC 1xtra’s DJ Target, explores the effects of growing up without a father, looking at music sensation will.i.am as well as presidents Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton, both of whom had a fatherless upbringing: was it that challenge which fuelled their ambition?
The show has just been awarded a Silver Award under the Human Relations category in the New York Festival 2016, which recognises the “World’s Best Radio Programmes”.
“I’m very proud of this achievement!”
So what’s next for the host?
“I’ve found my own lane, people tune in to the show regularly, and my profile is increasing really rapidly. It’s a really interesting time for me.”
Listen to Claire host The Conversation on The Beat London 103.6 FM, Sundays at 10am. Follow @ClaireClottey on Twitter