Afua Adom on turning 40

Fast becoming a household name, fabulous and feisty Afua Adom has earned her place as a respected and talented anchorperson, broadcast journalist and radio presenter. Afua is a passionate speaker and one of the leading voices on diversity in Britain, empowering and inspiring others across the country. 

Born and bred in Glasgow, encouraged by her parents who instilled in her a hard work ethic, Afua moved down London to study journalism at City University. She pursued a career in music publishing but followed her love of writing and became the Features Editor of Pride Magazine. After a year out having her gorgeous daughter, Naima, she turned to broadcast journalism and launched her own radio show. She now regularly appears on ITV’s This Morning, Good Morning Britain, and the Jeremy Vine show. 

Turning 40

Afua turns 40 later this year so I wanted to find out how she was feeling about it and what challenges she thinks might lie ahead. 

The word Afua used to describe turning 40 was……’Yikes!’

‘When I think of when my mum was 40,  40 back in 1980 feels a lot older than 40 now.’ 

But I bet my Mum would say the same thing about when my Nana was 40. I feel like I’m so much less mature than my Mum was when she was 40. When my mum was 40, she seemed like she was very together and she was this formidable woman and I feel like a giggly school girl. 40 is not old by any stretch of the imagination. That much we know but I feel like it’s younger than it was back then. 

In one sense of the word it feels old and in another sense, I spend a lot of time scrolling on the ASOS app looking for new things to wear that are wildly inappropriate. I’m “Yikes” because it feels older than I am and I feel like maybe I should start investing in stocks and shares!’

Enjoy the space you’re in

I asked Afua what advice she would give to her 20 year old self? She said, 

‘Enjoy your youth but know that it lasts longer than perhaps you think it does. Don’t worry about things like how you look or what job you’re going to do. I spent so much time worrying, am I thin enough?  Am I pretty enough? Just wasted energy on that. I wish I’d always known that I was always enough. I wish I hadn’t worried so much about where I would end up. About making my mum and dad proud of me. Because they were always proud, you know. I wish I hadn’t worried so much about where the next job was coming from and enjoy the present one. That even applies to now to be honest. Just chill out and enjoy the space that you’re in. Don’t rush to grow up and pay bills.

I asked Afua for her top tips for self preservation? 

‘Sometimes you have to believe your own hype.’ 

‘Remember the dance routines you used to make up in your bedroom when you were 10, remember how much you believed you could be the 2nd coming of Paula Abdul. Remember how that feels, bottle it and sometimes just sprinkle it over yourself. Believe your own hype.  Sometimes that’s the only way you can get up in the morning and keep going. Be the best version you can be.’

Dealing with racism

Afua recently shared a beautiful picture of her daughter on social media. She made a screenshot of a comment made by a troll using the N-word. 

I immediately got in touch to offer my support and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. She said it was supremely hurtful and unnecessary. ‘If you’re going to attack me, that’s one thing. If you’re going to attack my daughter, that’s another level of hate.’

Afua never really experienced racism until she moved to London. There’s now a large Ghanaian community in Scotland but when her parents first moved from Ghana in the 70s, they were subjected to sick racial abuse. Her parents have always reminded her who she is and where she’s from. It’s not hard to see where the fire in Afua’s belly came from and it’s promising to watch her presence grow.   

Having been on the receiving end of racial abuse, I asked Afua if her coping mechanisms had changed over the years?  

‘You become more resilient as you get older certainly. But things still do cut deep. What helps is support from friends. The support always helps there’s so many lovely voices out there to drown out the horrible voices. All you have to remember is that person has a massive problem which has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my skin colour. It’s to do with the way S/he thinks. S/he isn’t wired correctly and you just keep on going.’ 

Racism. It’s a conversation that needs to happen over and over again until all humans are accepted in the same way. By highlighting it, talking about it, sharing our stories and creating awareness we, as the human race, will continue to seek a united respect for one another.

Catch up with the turning 40 interviews here with the fabulous Charlie Brooks and Rebecca Wilcox.

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