The Voice Newspaper celebrates its 40 Year Anniversary this month and as part of its alumni, myself and other asian and black writers who were given an opportunity to write early in our careers, were asked to write some words.
Below is my love letter of gratitude to The Voice.
Dear The Voice
Writing a weekly column for you, for over 15 years, has been one of the greatest privileges of my professional life, and for that, I want to thank you.
When I was approached in 1999 by Tricia Liverpool and Lee Pinkerton about writing a regular weekly column called Jasmines Juice in The Voice, I was excited, humbled, anxious, and honoured.
As a young student running off to college, I had been religiously running to the newsagents to pick up The Voice weekly to keep up with my favourite writers of colour for many years, so to be asked to also contribute was a joy, shock (and way out of my comfort zone as unlike the rest of the incredible writers, I wasn’t a trained writer) and was embarrassed about my lack of writing skills.
I imagine I’d been asked due to my MTV role, which allowed me access to the biggest music and entertainment names. Sharing my interviews and adventures with them with Voice readers became a unique opportunity to give The Voice exclusives with all the content that didn’t make it onto MTV.
Even though I’ve always had a real job in TV, the first few years of my column in The Voice would end with the line ‘’contrary to belief, Jasmine is not just a ghetto it-girl, but a producer at MTV’’….Voice readers would quote that to me when meeting me out on the street.
I received hundreds of emails each month from across the community but mostly from young girls, students and prisoners who were also inspired by the column to be Entertainment journalists. I would offer them work experience at MTV and many of them went on to work at MTV and are now in senior media positions across the industry.
I treasured the tips that arrived from all quarters: the community, music stars, actors, athletes, managers, TV execs, politicians, record labels, trident, friends, foes, the lot! I treasured the people who invited me into their homes, lives and minds weekly (or had me forced upon them). I treasured the opportunity to occasionally help change people’s lives by speaking openly and honestly about topics and issues that we often found taboo, but most of all I treasured starting conversations and giving a voice to those who might not otherwise have one and helped push talent wherever I could via my column.
Additionally, The Voice platform gave me an opportunity to try being a columnist, hone my writing skills and be supported by some incredible editors. The editors were incredible in editing down my copy, which was always WAY too long. Sometimes my long-suffering, brilliant editors – Davina and Dionne – would simply send me back an email that said, ” Jas it needs to be half this length, please resend”. LOL
It didn’t matter where I was in the world or in what time zone, I would deliver my column into The Voice team on time, and they worked all hours and made it happen. I do recall telling Mariah and Jay Z that they had to sail their summer boat into land so I could pick up wi fi so my Voice column could be sent in time! This weekly commitment was important to me.
The impact of my contribution to The Voice on my own career cannot be understated. The voice gave me – a non-black, woman of colour, a long-term (15 years!) seat at the table of a national newspaper, when no other publication would’ve ever seen any potential in doing so.
I didn’t take for granted having been offered a seat at the table as a guest of the country’s biggest national black newspaper. I was incredibly fortunate, and the weekly column gave me even more opportunities to cover stories for TV which I wouldn’t have been offered or connected to without the column.
But more than that, The Voice gave me national visibility, access, and a pipeline into the heart of the black community who in turn reached out to me with hidden stories that I could then amplify on my TV platforms.
For of all this, I always note and pay homage-the black community. You all have a reputation for welcoming everyone and embraced me as a kid growing up in the streets of Southall and Harlesden. You are warm, inviting, non-judgmental cultural leaders and innovators and for that cultural adoption and taking me in your arms I will forever thank you.
Over the years The Voice gave so many new young writers who were black and Asian their first breaks- to shape their critical thinking – and a public facing platform with the most inclusive community I’ve ever been lucky enough to be culturally adopted by, and for that I will be forever indebted to the brand and its team across the years.
The reason this matters and the impact that this early investment in us had is clear, now that many of us have pipelined into successful careers and many are leading changemakers for inclusion within various industries. We all appreciate the huge opportunity and blessing that we were bestowed.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to have the space to share with readers every week. I still miss it.
Happy 40th Anniversary to The Voice!