FAULT Magazine In Conversation With Reggie Yates PT.1

Photography Joseph Sinclair | Styling Rachel Gold @ Red Represents | Lauren Alice @MandyCoakleyRepresents using Medik8 and La Roche Posay

Words: Miles Holder

 

For those who grew up watching 1990s terrestrial television, Reggie Yates has always been a household name – the recognisable young face who young POC across the country grew up with as their pillar of cultural representation on children’s television. Programs have come and gone since he made his debut on the Desmond’s in 1993, but still to this day, Reggie is still a mainstay on our television screens.

In 2013, we were introduced to a new side of Reggie through his documentary ‘Reggie Yates’s Extreme South Africa’, I say this was a “new side” of Reggie, but for many of us it was the first time we’d ever gotten to know Reggie Yates the person as opposed to the Saturday morning television presenter. Lying alone in his tent and discussing how South Africa’s race issues were affecting his own perception of self, it was a million miles away from the Reggie I remembered interviewing Atomic Kitten on ‘Smile’ or from his seldom spoken about appearance on Celebrity Fame Academy in 2005. A real Reggie; down to earth, an undeniably, unashamedly “black” Reggie Yates.

As more projects have released, the idea of Reggie Yates as a documentary maker has gone from career pivot to career-defining; critics and viewers alike now hold his work in the same esteem as one might the documentaries of Louis Theroux or Andrew Marr – a merit not many young British stars achieve.

 

FAULT: All those years of presenting children’s television, was the plan always to move into documentary making?

Reggie: No, and to be honest, there has never been a plan until now. It’s only in the last decade that the focus has been on doing projects which I genuinely care for. I know where I’d like to be at forty years of age in my personal and professional life and at the age of twelve I just wanted to have fun and as I’ve matured my desires for my career changed.

FAULT: Your career is an anomaly; it prompted The NewStatesman to run a story entitled ‘Does Reggie Yates Have The Weirdest Career In Television?’ – do you feel as though it’s been weird?

I don’t think I do have the weirdest career on television, I would replace “weird” with “authentic”. When I was eighteen, the BBC were telling me that I was going to be a ‘Blue Peter’ presenter and I was like, “no I’m not.” I never watched ‘Blue Peter’ growing up, and it never spoke to me, and quite frankly, I didn’t care for it. For those reasons, I didn’t do it and they just couldn’t understand and didn’t get it.

FAULT: Blue Peter is a big gig to pass up, what did you do instead?

What I went on to do was doing children shows where it felt like I was allowed to be me in, I helped create ‘The Crust’ a sitcom we did in a tower block, and it had a predominately black cast and I was twenty-one at that point. I always did things that feel right at the time, and that’s why there’s been this crazy flow but if you study my career, it’s always moved me forward, and now, everything aligns. The book makes sense next to the documentaries, the documentaries make sense with the photography, and that’s what I’m spending my life doing. All about empathy and learning, growth, sharing and I’m not just taking pictures for the sake of it like I used to do, I’ve just shot an exhibition for amnesty international on refugees, and their stories are as important as the imagery, and that’s where I am in my career.

The night before our interview I had watched ‘Reggie Yates In A Refugee Camp’ which saw him enter the largest refugee camp in Iraq alongside 30,000 Syrian refugees. A news report played on the television showing the death of an Iraqi journalist only twenty miles from the cafe where Reggie sat. This now deceased journalist, much like Reggie, placed herself in the line of danger to get her story. One does wonder if that journalist was possibly the Iraqi counterpart of Reggie Yates, one whose career mirrors his own  and what it must be like to watch someone with such a shared experience, meet such a tragic end.

 

FAULT: What was it like to sit and hear the news on a journalist, possibly one whose careers closely mirrored your own killed so close by?

I can see why you can make the comparison, but I think I disengaged from the similarities because I’m not a war journalist, and in situations where bombs are going off, that’s the last place I’ll be. I put myself in situations which are difficult, yes, but it’s human interest stories which drive me. I look to find the heart of the issue through the people that I meet, and I don’t feel like I’m in a similar level of danger. It did sadden me though; her life was cut short because she was trying to do the right thing and open conversations and that’s wrong.

 

Throughout the documentary, we’re shown all the damning emotions one might expect from the people now forced to seek shelter within the refugee camp, but through all of this, Reggie reminds us of the power of friendship, love and compassion can make the worst of circumstances, that little bit easier. In the later episode ‘A Week in a Toxic Waste Dump’ we’re introduced to the Burner Boys, a group of young men working in dangerous conditions in the largest electronic waste dumps in the world – Accra’s Agbogbloshie. Much like the formerly discussed episode, we also end with the Burner Boys a little closer to happiness from when the documentary opened.

This isn’t the case with all of Reggie’s documentaries. In the previous series, we’ve seen him come face-to-face with the far-right, misogynists, racists and projects do inevitably end with his subjects no happier or less angry at the world than when the documentaries started.

 

FAULT: Has there has ever been a particular person who he wished he could have steered into seeing a happier way of living?

Every film there’s someone I meet that I wish I could steer to a happier future, but I think I have to be realistic about my capabilities. I can’t fix everybody that I meet in a documentary or the real world. My job is to connect with people and tell their story, but it’s not to change the world, and it’d be irresponsible and unfair for me to promise a relationship with everyone. A lot of people had said to me, “please tell me you stayed in touch with the Burner Boys and did more” but it’s hard because two weeks earlier I was in Iraq, and a month before that I was in jail in North Carolina and what about staying in touch with those guys?

I don’t do these films as a one-off project; I’m not some kid on a gap year building a house in Africa and pissing off forever. I have plans where there is legacy, and I return; for instance in Kenya and Iberia, I’ve been back several times. In Awal, I was affected by being there and my connection to the land from being of Ghanian decent I’ve started the ball rolling on a campaign to bring about change. It’s not something I feel the need to shout about here because I’m not doing it for promotion, I’m doing it out of personal responsibility as a Ghanaian the position that I’m in.

 

FAULT: You touched on a point saying that you’re not a student on your gap year going in and fucking off. How do you respond when people counter with the argument that you’ve gone into Iraq, made your documentary and then like you say, fucked off?

It’s a very easy answer; the difference is I’ve made a film about it which you and many people have seen across the country. It’s started a conversation which wasn’t there before, and we don’t know what the legacy of that documentary will be – it could sell internationally, and it explains displacement in a way I’ve never seen before. I’ve done something different and original, and it will effect change even if it’s just in the attitude of the audience watching it.

 

FAULT: Do you have any career regrets?

I don’t have any. There are things I could have done better, things go wrong all the time, there are documentaries which I’ve made which have been a bit rubbish, but I’ve learnt from all of them, and it’s cheesy textbook crap, it reigns true. It’s essential that I celebrate my failures as much as my successes because of nothing is a better teacher than failure.

 

 

In Pt2 – we’ll discuss Reggie’s new book, future projects, race and above all else – FAULTS.

Coming Soon…

 

Unseen: My Journey by Reggie Yates published by BBC Books, price £18.99 | THE INSIDER S2 is available on BBC3

Preview: FAULT Magazine BBC Class Special

By now, you’ll be well and truly engrossed in the brand new BBC Dr Who spin off ‘Class’. From the same universe of such a classic character, FAULT Issue 24 includes a ‘Class’ special feature on their lead cast members, Greg Austin, Fady ElsayedSophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah. We learn more about the young cast, the characters they play and of course their FAULTS! Enjoy the preview below and see the whole feature inside FAULT 24 HERE.

 

Class. BBC. Working with one of the most iconic BBC shows of all time. How does it feel?

Sophie: Mad! Being part of the Doctor Who family – even being such a new show, the support that we’ve already had is unreal. I think Fady probably sees a lot more of the feedback than I do, with social media…

Fady: Yeah Sophie doesn’t have Twitter! I mean all over social media, all of the Doctor Who fans have been so interested to see what that world is going to bring them next. Being part of a show that so many people already respect…

 

There are so many aspects to the Doctor Who universe to potentially expand on. Why Coal Hill ?

Fady: It has been such an iconic area of the Doctor Who universe – so to be honest it’s been a long time coming!

Sophie: With Jenna Coleman’s character as Clara being a teacher at the school in the last season – it was a perfect moment in the Doctor Who timeline to link that in. To say hold on, okay, lets look over here now. People have already begun to see more of it, the seeds were already planted. It makes sense now in a way…

Fady: It’s particularly interesting being able to explore that universe in today’s world. Just seeing how this generation deals with that and how it fits into the 21st Century. I don’t think anyone will expect Coal Hill to be quite the way it is now.

 

While it exists within a known franchise, all the characters and story are original. How do you go about becoming a character

Vivian: I asked Patrick where [my character] Tanya came from, and it was his own personal life and books he’s read. For me, I had to bring her out of myself and how I identify with her. Throughout the series she makes many social comments which reminds me of myself at her age and I remember angst of being around friends who were much older and having to find my way. 

How did it feel to hear you had the part in such a huge production?

Vivian: My audition for Class was my first ever audition. They hinted that it was linked to the Dr Who universe in some way but I couldn’t fathom how big of a production this actually is until I got the job and started filming.

 

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Photography: Miles Holder / Hair: Shamirah Sairally /Makeup: Mario Brooksbank Stylist: Amii Mcintosh

 

Did you find parallels between Charlie and yourself?

Greg: When I first read it, I was like “this is me”. He’s very quiet and awkward like myself and I find that with any role you’ll find something to empathise with and build upon. There is one very specific side of me which is Charlie and remember being thirteen years of age and no knowing how to handle being a teenager and I feel Charlie is me at that stage. Forever striving to make sense of it all and fit in . 

You’ve all been to Comic Con and met with the die-hard Doctor Who fans. What’s it like to be up close and personal with so many excited fans of the show?

Greg: I love it to pieces because I’m one of those die-hards! I’ve been going to Comic Con for years, so the chance to actually be on a panel and interacting with people who appreciate the show and it’s history and who have excitement for its future is such a dream come true for me. 

Read the full interview and see more exclusive solo and group photographs inside FAULT 24 – Available now

Ella Eyre announces new single ‘If I Go’, available 6th July

EllaEyre_If_I_Go_New4aFAULT Favourite Ella Eyre has announced her new single ‘If I Go’ will be officially released on the 6th July, produced by Jarred Rogers who has worked with the likes of Lana Del ReyTinie Tempah and Mark Ronson. The audio clip for the track has already been viewed on YouTube over 60,000 times  in 4 days, which bodes well for the 20 year-old singer who has already had a No.1 as the featured vocalist on Rudimental‘s ‘Waiting All Night’.

It’s been a big year for Ella; she was the runner up for the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award and the BBC Sound of 2014 award, as well as appearing on collaborations with Bastille, Wiz Khalifa and, of course, Rudimental. She recently finished her first UK tour, and is now embarking on another set of ambitious live dates (below). Look out for her exclusive feature in the upcoming issue of FAULT.

ELLA

 text by Will Ballantyne-Reid

FAULT Future: actor Luke Newberry ‘In the Flesh’

Having worked alongside the likes of Maggie Smith (The Quartet) and Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina), at just 23 Luke Newberry has already rubbed shoulders with acting royalty. The classically trained star of the new BBC zombie series In The Flesh spoke to FAULT about acting since infancy, being on set with his idols and two exciting TV projects.

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FAULT: What made you decide to go into acting?

Luke: I grew up in a house in Devon and we had this room out the back that my older sisters would dance in. I just decided at about the age of 5 to take it over and make it into a theatre. I was a tiny little producer, actor and writer. My dad would take me to hardware shops to buy materials and he would help me build the stage up, then I would write a play. I became interested in filmmaking as I got older and I used to shoot short films in there. I got an agent in London when I was about 7 and started working as a child actor.

You went to drama school, which seems to be less of a normality nowadays – how important was the experience?

It was, definitely. I don’t think it’s necessary but I really wanted that kind of training and it really gets you fit both physically and vocally. It gives you great tools that, especially in theatre, are really essential. Weirdly The Bristol Old Vic, where I went, was always somewhere I wanted to go and its alumni, like Daniel Day Lewis, were always an attraction. I also fell in love with the big Victorian houses – it’s quite romantic.

You’ve acted alongside some huge names with roles in The Quartet and Anna Karenina – what was it like being on set with the likes of Maggie Smith and Kiera Knightly?

It was really quite surreal. I had this crazy moment where I was sitting in the sun on those fold out chairs and it was just me and Maggie Smith and she was with a parasol and an espresso and I just thought, Wow! This is strange, should I be here? But they always made me feel very welcome. Being on the Anna Karenina set with Joe Wright was amazing ‘cause he’s one of my favourite directors. I’d come onto set and there stood Jude Law and Keira Knightly – I was so nervous!

Tell us a bit about your upcoming BBC zombie thriller In The Flesh.

It’s a new script by a brand new writer called Dominic Mitchell and directed by Johnny Campbell. It’s about a guy called Kieran, who I play, who has risen from the dead 4 years before it starts in a freak uprising where everyone who died in 2009 mysteriously returns and does the whole zombie thing – eating peoples brains etc. They were all rounded up and contained in a treatment centre in Norfolk. Then the story starts just as Kieran is ready go to back to his family and his village. It’s set in this rural northern village and it’s essentially about prejudice. Kieran has to go back and try and fit into society and there are people who don’t want him around – there’s a whole vigilante group out to get rid of these imposters, as they call them. It’s zombies but the really story is about being an outsider.

Your character, Kieran, is both introverted, shy and rather human-like, and also dangerously bloodthirsty in his flashbacks – how did you master this duality?

It was strange. It was like being in a Jimmy McGovern drama. There were very normal days and then some days I would come in and put on my contacts lenses and prosthetic face and stuff so it was always extremes. It was about finding a balance so as to not make him a monster, although what he did in his flashbacks is pretty awful. It’s unrecognisable to him, which is why he can’t really understand it.

 

 

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Were you a fan of zombie movies or books before you started In The Flesh?

I don’t have a particular genre that I’m drawn to. I did grow up watching stuff like Death Becomes Her, which had that sort of living dead element. It wasn’t flesh eating zombies but more the human side of it – what it would be like to be slowly rotting, but alive. I find the whole idea about life and death really interesting.

You’re also in ITV’s new supernatural drama, Lightfields – tell us a bit about your involvement in that.

Lightfields is a story about a girl who dies in a barn in 1944 and it follows the lives of the families that lived in the house in 1944, then 1975 and then in the present day. She haunts the farmhouse through the ages and you see the ripple effect of certain events. I play Harry in 1944. She was my girlfriend and I try to figure out how she died and who might be responsible.

It’s very different to In The Flesh in that Harry is completely alive and not half alive and and it’s a period piece. Harry is a bit sweeter and quite charming, but he’s also got a bit of go in him. He’s devastated when she dies and that’s what drives him to find out who did it, whereas Kieran is very introverted and quite depressed and melancholy and then gets his fire as the show develops.

After Lightfields I went straight up to Yorkshire to film In The Flesh and the daily difference was amazing: up at 5, makeup for 3 hours and then a full day’s work everyday and night shoots too.

What has been the stand-out moment in your career so far?

I got to rap Tinie Tempeh with Billie Connolly being directed by Dustin Hoffman. I was listening to it on my iPod and then we went in for a take and I suddenly forgot the lyrics and then he did too and we just looked at each other and both sort of kept on muttering. Afterwards I said to Dustin, “I’m so sorry that was terrible,” and he was like [puts on American accent] “no it was perfect, we’re gonna use it!” It ended up in the film.

You’ve been both on the stage and in front of the camera – any preference?

I’ve done more screen stuff since I left drama school. I did Antigone at The National and that was really surreal. I had the Olivier postcard of the auditorium on my wall through drama school. It’s my favourite theatre! I was playing Haymen with Chris Eccleston as my dad – again, another nuts experience. I only realise when doing interviews the amazing things I’ve actually done!

I love the intimacy of film but then you don’t have the energy and the electric feeling you get from a packed auditorium.

Who would you most like to work with in the future?

Wes Anderson – I loved Moonrise Kingdom, it was quirky and brilliant. I would really love to work with Nicole Kidman and play her son. That would be a dream. Lars von Trier is another. And Baz Luhrmann produces visual orgasms!

Do you get star-struck?

No, not usually. I’m sure with some people I would be though. It’s strange when meet someone you’ve only ever scene on billboards or on screen. They have this otherworldly thing about them that then makes it difficult to talk to them as if they were just another person.

Any exciting plans in the works?

None that I can divulge, unfortunately.

What is your FAULT?

I drink too much tea 

Words: Rebecca Unger

 

 

Adam Rayner, star of BBC spy drama ‘Hunted’ features in FAULT Issue 12

FAULT have been loving “the Beeb’s” new spy thriller series, Hunted – also available in the USA on Cinemax. Melissa George plays Sam Hunter, a rogue agent from private espionage agency Byzantium who returns to work a year after being betrayed and nearly murdered on a mission in Tangiers. As Sam tries to uncover who put the hit on her in Morocco, she begins to uncover a trail that leads to a mole within her own organisation – and possibly to a source at the very top of the covert intelligence establishment.

Adam Rayner plays Aiden, Sam’s ‘handler’ (her agency point of contact while on missions) and also, it transpires, her lover during the time of her ill-fated excursions in Tangiers. Aiden’s character is outwardly stony to mask levels of both genuine warmth for Sam and, increasingly as the series continues, nebulous multiplicity. We were delighted to have the chance to speak to Adam about his role in the series on the set of an exclusive shoot for FAULT:

FAULT: Let’s talk about your new series HUNTED. Can you tell us who you play and what it’s all about?

Adam: I play Aidan and he is basically a private spy. He’s working for a private intelligence company that is getting mixed up in all sorts of international intrigue and conspiracy. We’re all working for a private intelligence company. This world of privitisation is extending to intelligence and security work. I think it’s quite interesting to have a show that for the first time, rather than being MI6 or CIA, is about that government sanctioned private world.

 

You mention it not being about the MI6, do you think that the end of SPOOKS has made way for this kind of show?

Very much so. In the sense that times are changing and this world where you don’t know quite who the good guys and the bad guys are because it’s private companies working for the highest bidder is increasingly how that world seems to operate. Not that I’m any great expert. It’s just the way the whole world is going, everyone’s being farmed out to private contractors and if you look at what’s happening in Afghanistan and Iraq and what would have previously been done by government sanctioned military is now being down by private companies. In terms of following on from SPOOKS it is very much taking it into the twenty-first Century. What was traditionally MI6, CIA, KGB, the whole James Bond vibe.

Get the full story in FAULT Issue 12 – and look out for our feature on Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje – who plays Deacon in the series – in FAULT Issue 13 this Winter.