Report – The Key To… Konnie Huq
- If people can get the kids right then the future is bright.
- You have to see it to be it, so inclusivity is an important norm to continue pursuing.
- Your little me, when joined with the other little me’s, can spread the opportunity and responsibility for climate sustainability and action.
Konnie Huq’s key philosophy is: ‘If people can get the kids right, then the future is bright.’ Huq, in conversation with Newsround presenter Ricky Boleto, said that there was little emphasis on BAME representation in programming when she became the first Asian presenter on ‘Blue Peter’. However, children’s TV has always led the way in her experience. She had to navigate tokenism as a path to inclusivity becoming the norm.
Ricky asked about the industry pressure for children’s presenters to be role models in their off-screen life. Konnie replied that she had led a very quiet life anyway, but yes she had had the famous “induction conversation” about skeletons in closets etc. What made it easier for her was that she had never approached presenting to children as a stepping stone Ito something “more mainstream” -it wasn’t;t a career move, it was what she felt she could do. She went on to frame her job as an investment in young people, in shaping the future through her audience. She transitioned to being a children’s author because it was a way for her to ‘intelligence up’. She views books for kids as the antidote to some of the dumbing down she feels is evident in so much popular culture, but that children are hungry for stories that have depth of meaning and purpose. She found that people she interviewed as a presenter who were at the top of their field were drawn to solve problems they had observed when they were kids. She felt that books and kids are a potential pathway to a future of active work to counteract climate change.
Huq’s ‘gateway book’ as a child was Judy Bloom’s ‘Superfudge’, and she tries to write the accessibility she felt in that book into her cleaning haracter, Cookie, whom she described as ‘Bridget Jones meets Wimpy Kid’.
She advised young performers to never be patronising. Early in her career, she received a note to not use the word ‘adjacent’. She pushed back because of her feeling that if one person learns a new word, then it’s worth including.
The conversation moved to the responsibility children’s content creators bear in portraying the climate crisis. Konnie asserted that the responsibility is huge because children’s content creators are establishing the norms that children conform to. Children’s media has the responsibility and opportunity to change children’s mindsets to a more sustainable way of life. You can’t achieve anything like he change it’s possible to effect in children, when dealing with adults. They are too fixed in their mindsets. But children will soak up positive and active ideas and run with them for the rest of their lives.
Konnie still relies on the no-waste mentality that her parents brought with them from Bangladesh and raised her and her siblings with. In response to a question about growing eco-anxiety, she felt that the future is an exciting, bright venture if everyone spreads the word about sustainability and subscribes to it. There is no benefit from being anything other than upbeat because otherwise the doom and gloom of climate anxiety becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Konnie grounds her self-confidence in a tough industry in not subscribing to the pressure to keep up. The temptation to constantly chase the next moment of adulation gets in the way of the confidence that comes from knowing yourself and finding your tribe. She advised everyone to remember that ‘Today’s nut jobs are tomorrow’s trailblazers.’