This week on Stylist’s Nobody Told Me… podcast, TV presenter and personality AJ Odudu talks about the challenges she has faced throughout her career because she didn’t ‘fit’ other people’s ideas of who a TV presenter is – and how, despite all of this, she was able to carve a path to success.
The Nobody Told Me… podcast, sponsored by Clinique, is back with another brilliant guest, whose story you won’t want to miss.
In the latest episode, Stylist is joined by the remarkable AJ Odudu, one of Britain’s most exciting young presenters and personalities whose career has seen her present shows such as Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, Bake Off: An Extra Slice and, most recently, ITV’s Rock The Boat.
She is also a qualified personal trainer, sports nutritionist and fitness blogger, whose YouTube exercise tutorials have attracted a large following. And that’s not forgetting that she’s an accomplished DJ, too.
But achieving this level of success hasn’t been easy for Odudu. As she explains in this week’s episode of Nobody Told Me…, navigating the industry as a Black woman with a distinct northern accent has come with its challenges.
Although she was excited for her first big break – on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side – Odudu describes it as “the best and worst experience of my life all wrapped into one” because of the exposure it gave her. Not only was she receiving hate online – mostly for her northern accent – but executives at the time suggested she attend elocution lessons to “soften” her voice and make it clearer.
However, as a Black woman growing up in the UK, Odudu was used to not fitting in, experiencing racism almost daily. But the discrimination and challenges she has faced throughout her career did not stop her from chasing her goals, and she’s grateful that she didn’t change herself to suit the preferences of others.
“Looking back, I’m so proud that I’ve managed to come this far by staying true to myself and not changing – keeping my accent, keeping my opinions, keeping my voice, essentially,” she says.
“I’m just lucky to have people around me who reinforce the fact that, all of the things you hate about yourself initially, or that people judge, will one day be the things that people love about you.
“It’s so interesting now in hindsight that now my accent is a talking point and is what makes me recognisable. I’ve got this distinctive voice now, thank goodness I didn’t change it.”
Nobody Told Me… I Didn’t Have To Change To Be A Success is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast. New episodes will be released on Wednesdays and you can go back and listen to episodes from series one.
As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.