Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 612

13 11 AUGUST 202 2 NEWS&VI EWS toldme I wouldn’t get in,” she laughs. “I asked a teacher where was best for languages, and he said Cambridge. So I was like: ‘Well, I’ll go there, then’. And he was like: ‘Well, let’s manage your expectations…’ Also, I wanted to do French and Spanish, but they didn’t do Spanish at my school, so I took myself o to night classes, and got my Spanish A Level as quickly as I could.”Well of course she did. Arriving at Emmanuel College, it wasn’t the French or Spanish that threw her, but the university’s secret language. “They all talked about ‘coming up’ to Cambridge,” she recalls. “But I’d gone down to Cambridge. I was used to being the onlymixed-race person, and usually the only black person, at school. But what I couldn’t believe when I arrived at Cambridge was how few northerners there were. “So it was such a shock, because they all seemed to know the same people, havemoved in the same circles. When I got there, I felt like the stupidest person in the class. I never understood how all these others – especially all these boys fromEton and places like that – had the confidence to put their hand up all the time. Even if they didn’t know the answer.”Most of themare probably running the country now. The pressure to conformwas something Vick had felt from an early age – as a child, she’d once asked her mum if she could wash her brown skin o in the bath. “And at Cambridge, I was definitely trying, as any 18-year-old does, to fit in – to dress, and domy hair andmake-up, a certain way, and try to emulate the people aroundme.” It wasn’t until her university year abroad – where, at 19, she ended up becoming the youngest ever journalist employed by The Argentina Independent newspaper – that she really began to feel comfortable in her own skin. “As well as the newspaper, I was working in a cocktail bar, and I remember meeting this Brazilian girl called Sura, who played in a band and had really big, bouncy hair. And I started to realise: ‘Oh, that’s how I can domy hair better.’ I started to become a little freer in the way I heldmyself, andmore confident about the way I looked. “When I came to London, I really embraced the idea that your heritage was part of your identity, rather than something you hid a little bit. Where I live, I can get food fromanywhere in the world, I can get all the Nigerian ingredients to eat the food that I grew up eating at home inNewcastle. The stu that makes you unique is something to be celebrated.” She’dmoved to London for a job withMTV, having been talent-spotted by them in Buenos Aires. It was the launchpad for a TV and radio career in which she’s juggled entertainment juggernauts such as The X Factor, I’ma Celebrity and Strictly Come Dancing (she lasted five weeks) with award-winning documentaries, literary judging panels and human rights activism. (In her three years at Capital, she was almost certainly the only commercial breakfast radio presenter with a Cambridge degree inmodern languages – little wonder The Sunday Times dubbed her ‘the voice of a generation’.) But, for all her drive, she’s never really had a plan, she says. “Doors have opened that I didn’t expect to.” Her role as an Amnesty International Ambassador is something else that can be traced back to her school days, when she started writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience. “I think when you’re young, your moral compass is much clearer,” she reflects. “You think: ‘These things are right and these things are wrong,’ and it doesn’t make sense that the wrong stu is allowed to happen.” Over the past few years, she’s also been involved in a project helping children fromasylum seeking families. “The kids I’ve been working with… I love them,” she says. “I feel I’ve grown with them. I’ve always cared about refugees, because I know mymum’s story. Although she always says: ‘I wasn’t a refugee, I was an immigrant, because I came here after the war.’ But I knowwhat she went through, I know that it’s not always fair – it’s not your fault if you’re born in a warzone. Everyone deserves safety, and the chance for a better life.” InMay, Vick got engaged to superstar DJ and record producer CalvinHarris after ‘a whirlwind five-month romance’ (© all the tabloids). It’s not something she wants to talk publicly about right now – but, as someone who has spoken in the past of being ‘a worrier’, and using therapy to work through her anxieties, it’s clear she’s on top of the world. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” she beams. “It sounds so gushing, but I’ve worked out what makes me happy. It just takes time – it’s about getting older, and surrounding yourself with the right people and the right things. I’ve learned to let things go: to stop, take a breath and reprioritise, rebalance, set boundaries. And to just try to have fun. Life is too short. A lot has happened over the past few years – we all lost people. It makes you realise life can be fleeting. So try to have the best time you can. And then try to spread that happiness around.” Watch all episodes of Vick Hope’s Breakfast Show on ITVHub. Going Home with Vick and Jordan, BBCRadio 1 fromMonday to Thursday ‘A lot has happened over the past few years, so try to have the best time you can – then spread that happiness around’ ALL SMILES Vick Hope on the set of her ITV breakfast show ( left); out with fiancé Calvin Harris ( far left) Since September, Vick has cohosted Radio 1’s ‘drivetime’ show with Jordan North called Going Home. “It feels like a younger show than it has in the past,” says Vick. “It’s for people leaving school, leaving uni, wanting to end their day with a bit of a laugh. We don’t really plan the show – it’s absolute chaos. Jordan is so lovely. Everything you might have seen of him on TV? That’s who he is.” She also presents Radio 1’s Life Hacks and Ofäcial Chart: First Look (both on Sunday). Despite “feeling a little left out of the Cambridge demographic”, Vick found her own gang of like-minded souls. “There weren’t that many of us, but we gravitated towards each other. What’s that saying? Your vibe attracts your tribe. I’m still really close to my uni friends.” SHE’S THE ONE Photography: Karwai Tang/WireImage