Clara Amfo On 'Breaking Free', Radio 1, And Plan UK’s 'Learn Without Fear' Campaign

Having recently taken over from Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 1's mid-morning slot, Clara Amfo stresses the importance of self-respect and taking life by the scruff of the neck

Clara Amfo Landscape

Having recently taken over from Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 1's mid-morning slot, Clara Amfo stresses the importance of self-respect and taking life by the scruff of the neck

Marie Claire caught up with the 29-year old DJ to talk gender equality, New Years Resolutions and plans for 2016.

What made you get involved with Plan International's ‘Learn Without Fear’ campaign?

I first got involved with Plan International in 2011. There was a chance to go to Ghana and I jumped at it. There’s a massive stigma attached to the sub-Sahara - that everyone is really impoverished. Obviously there are some parts that are like that but Ghana is a really fantastic country. Like any other country in the world, it’s got its social issues and gender equality just happens to be one of them. But the strides that they’re taking to educate young people with this campaign are really impressive. It’s going to give rise to a whole new generation of people who have a different way of thinking.

You worked with Plan International at their Youth Action Festival - how was that?

I’ve met loads of young people over the years but the Youth Action Festival just proved how young girls are more aware of gender-based issues now. We are also in an age where awareness about other key issues such as those of transgender people and bisexual people is on the rise too. There were so many forward-thinking, right-on girls at the festival - it made me feel hopeful!

What would you like to #BREAKFREE from?

I get asked this a lot. I think a lot of people assume certain things might hold me back by just looking at me. I don’t know if this is because of how I was brought up, but I’ve never felt that I can’t do something because I’m female or because I’m a black female. If anything I have seen them as my strong points. What has held me back sometimes is my own self-confidence and being a bit fearful.

What would you say to anyone who does feel held back by something?

No matter your gender, class, race or whatever, it’s only you that’s holding yourself back. You are your own worst enemy but at the same time you are your own cheerleader too. It’s easy to run with popular statistics and think, 'If 99% of people don’t make it then I shouldn’t bother.' But why can’t you be that 1%? There’s always a chance to do something so you may as well go for it.

If somebody had told me that I’d end up on BBC Radio 1Xtra and then the Official Chart show two years later, I wouldn’t have believed them. Not because I didn’t think I was capable but because it wasn’t a part of my original plan and I hadn’t prepared for it - but now I’m doing it!

You’ve done so much in such a short amount of time. What's been your career highlight?

Winning Celebrity Pointless on BBC1 with Trevor Nelson was amazing! But being given the Official Chart show was a proper highlight, an unexpected one but one that I’m grateful for nonetheless because it’s such a prestigious show. I’ve got so much respect for Fearne Cotton and Jo Whiley. These are people that I grew up listening to, who are now my colleagues and peers - it’s nuts!

Just yesterday I was watching Love Actually. You know Jo Whiley’s voice is in it? I was thinking that it’s so weird because when that film first came out, who would have thought I would follow in her footsteps? It’s so crazy what life chucks at you.

What can we expect from you this year?

Lots more talking in between songs on the radio… maybe a couple of television projects, and my club night. Hopefully lots more DJing around festivals in the summer time too - I’m feeling good about this year!

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