Learning the Ropes mentoring session - March 23 edition

Former BBC Radio 1Xtra radio presenter, YouTube sensation, and TV personality, Reece Parkinson, joins our Learning the Ropes mentees as a special guest

2 June 2023

Written by Xanaa Obsiye

Due to the city's transport strikes, March’s session took place online, but Dermot O'Leary graciously hosted over twenty faces in an accommodating digital space. Mentees and mentors settled in from different corners of London to catch up since our last meeting a month ago. We had brilliant news from the mentees who had recently started employment in the television and film industry, including one standout story of a mentee who was invited to meet King Charles, at Buckingham Palace. Everyone was in an uplifting and celebratory mood.

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Before we spoke with our special guest, we were delegated into different breakout rooms, where we had the opportunity to network with a different mentor and learn about their experiences in the vast world of televised entertainment. We learned about how they got their start, their responsibilities, and the skills they acquired along the way. It was also a chance to encourage our peers with their insightful mentors.

This was followed by one-on-one conversations with our respective mentors to discuss our goals, and how they could better equip themselves to help us in our next steps; whether that be gaining an entry-level position or maximising our time in our workplaces to move forward.

Throughout the evening, we all eagerly anticipated the main event. A chance to meet and talk with our special guest, none other than, former BBC Radio 1Xtra radio presenter, YouTube extraordinaire and all-around TV personality, Reece Parkinson. With an infectious smile and a distinctive voice, he thanked the organisers for the chance to come and talk about his journey with a group of eager young people.

It was heart-warming to hear Reece explain the social anxiety he experienced in his younger years, something we all have related to at one point in our lives. It was interesting to see a people person such as himself go into detail about how he was riddled with shyness, and only overcame it when his sister forced him to sing the hit song, ‘My heart will go on’ by the incomparable Celine Dion on the tube in front of typically anti-social Londoners. We all nodded in silence acknowledging that we would have paid to see that.

To see someone as accomplished as he is at his age was awe-inspiring. His motivation and drive stemmed from starting out as a YouTuber, where he created content reviewing the popular 2017 web series panel show 'BKChat'. Due to the exposure he gained from the show, he was invited to produce and host an after-show.

Reece Parkinson encouraged the mentees to explore new opportunities and take chances. To message anyone whose job you admire and ask for their advice. That is exactly how he connected with Dermot in the first place. The moments we spent listening to Reece explain his career path were also enlightening, and he was kind enough to open the platform for questions to be asked. One question asked whether his decision to follow trends early on in his career ever impinged on his need to create and set trends. He agreed with this sentiment, while offering an alternative way of looking at the predicament. He said by following trends he created a foundation for himself to build his creative path, get noticed, and eventually pave the way for setting new trends and inspiring others.

As the evening was drawing to a close, we were gifted with a few words from Dermot; expressing his appreciation towards Reece, for his work and how he carries himself. This was emotionally cathartic for everyone, as we saw a young man who worked hard for so long being recognised for his contribution in this precarious, dynamic, creative landscape – with a shoutout on how Reece brings humour and brightens up people’s car journeys on their way in life. He is a role model to many who wish to have the impact he’s had.