“You’re not better than anyone else just because you’re the presenter,” says Take Me Out: The Gossip’s Laura Jackson
It was while working the door at members club Shoreditch House, that Jackson, got the chance to tackle the telly industry.
“I got asked to go to an MTV audition through the friend of a friend” she recalls. “I didn’t get the job.”
However from that moment she was hooked. She managed to get herself a meeting with an agent, who offered her another audition for an online series. She went, she got the role and she was in!
Getting an agent, she says, “is absolutely [essential]. There has to be some level of professionalism, and having an agent is that. They know about the job, they can put you in touch with the right people…”
Getting an agent is no mean feat though. “You need to get something under your belt” Jackson advises. “I found out that the guy on reception at John Noel (talent agency) was from Hudderfield, and I’m from Hudderfield, so I sent him a showreel I put together and [a copy of] the Hudderfield Examiner [local newspaper]. Something a bit quirky to stand out. He said no.”
The role of a presenter who only presents is a thing of the past, Jackson believes. Everyone now is required to have far more strings to their bow. Jackson runs a supper club with DJ Alice Levine, and the pair are releasing a book later this year. Her advice? “Have a plan B that can run [in conjunction] with your plan A!”
Presenters, she says, have to be great team players. “Understand that everybody’s role is as important as everybody else’s. Everyone is a cog.”
Increasingly, interviewing has become the remit of the presenter, and Laura offers a few tips. “Viewers always love the ‘Where do you do for breakfast? What curry do you order?’ questions.”
“Being a good interviewer is really important. I always listen to Kirsty [Young] on Desert Island Discs. She’s so good at it!
“There’s nothing worse than an interview with a presenter who wants to overshadow the person they’re interviewing” Jackson warns.
Humility and authenticity are essential skills for a presenter. “It’s just [about] not being too confident, not thinking you’re too great, not being too drama school” she explains.
Getting in, wannabe presenters should be prepared for the slog. “It’s long hours, it’s exhausting, you’re cold, you’re tired, you don’t really know what’s going on” Jackson explains. “A lot of people get into television by being a researcher or a runner. Dermot [O’Leary] started out as a researcher.”
It’s all about meeting people, she believes. “Networking – but not in a really gross way” she suggests. “Just chat to people.”
“It’s being persistent, but it’s a gentle applied pressure rather than being too hungry. I’ve learned in television that people don’t like aggressive people. Aggressive ambition is not the one.”
Hone your craft, she advises. Presenter courses “are not [worth it] because they’re normally quite expensive. It’s about hours under your belt. You have to feel confident and competent.”
“It’s all about baby steps” Jackson believes. “There’s only a handful of people that make it to primetime. Everyone I know wouldn’t want that big job before doing everything else. You’re not ready for it.”