June Sarpong – The Futures Interview

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June Sarpong

June Sarpong has enjoyed a 15-year career which has already seen her become one of the most recognisable faces of British television. After 8 years being the face of T4 she made TV history with her ground-breaking Tony Blair Channel 4 special ‘When Tony Met June’. She has also interviewed and introduced some of the biggest names including: Nelson Mandela, HRH Prince of Wales, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bono, George Clooney and 50 Cent, and was voted the number 1 panellist young people wanted to see on Question Time.She has also taken on the world’s most challenging live audiences, including hosting 2005’s Make Poverty History event in London’s Trafalgar Square and presenting at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 alongside Will Smith, she also hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.

June has worked extensively with HRH Prince Charles for ten years as an ambassador for his charity The Prince’s Trust. In 2007, she was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) on the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List for her services to broadcasting and charity, making her, along with Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips, one of the youngest people to receive an MBE. She is a co-founder of WIE Symposium, a conference designed to inspire and empower women.

?!X: What’s the Future You Choose?

JS: The Future I Choose is basically centered round another project I have. Its called Row6.com and our tagline is: 6 Degrees of Integration. The whole point of the project is getting people to see past difference and to connect to each other on the human level. I personally think difference is a good thing and its brilliant to have people from all different backgrounds, cultures, religions because we each have something to teach each other. There are so many magical moments that we miss out on as people because we are so obsessed with being fearful of ‘the other’. This is the world I want to see and the world I want for my kids.

?!X: What’s a ‘think’ to create this future?

JS: The think that inspired me is definitely Gandhi’s quote – ‘Be the change you wish to see’. I’m forever looking at myself and saying “am I living my life that way”. We all have preconceived ideas and judgements that don’t actually serve us.

?!X: What’s an ‘act’ to create the future you choose?

JS: My act is to talk to somebody you normally wouldn’t talk to and listen to their story. I was on set a few months ago and I’d say I’m pretty open minded, we had a guy working with us who had tons and tons of tattoos, was an ex-gang member and had just come out of prison 5 or 6 months ago. He looked like the kind of guy you probably wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley! I found myself very aware of the fact he looked quite menacing so I made a point of going up and talking to him and he sat and told me about his life story and it was the saddest thing. This man was now trying to change his life and turn it around to create a better life for his children. He was working as a runner on this particular production I was working on and I thought wow this is somebody who has probably come up against this all the time and it would be hard for someone like that to change their life because of the way we see people in society and the way we are so reluctant to give people a second chance. I think that is definitely one the things I would say, go and talk to somebody you wouldn’t normally talk to, someone who actually makes you feel a bit uncomfortable.

?!X: What’s a ‘vote’ to create the future you choose?

JS: My vote… we have a united nations but I think it time for a ‘united citizens’. It would be brilliant and I would vote for that!

Follow June on Twitter @Junesarpong

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