De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Alumna of the Month Aminata Kamara is using her platform as a BBC radio presenter and podcaster to celebrate local Black talent.
Responding to a BBC Radio Leicester call-out last year, Aminata successfully completed a blind audition, various pitches and a live broadcast to land the role of presenting The VIBE, a weekly show which airs at 8pm on Wednesdays.
The 30-year-old single mum and DMU Drama graduate said: “People’s lives are informed and transformed by what they hear, so celebrating vibrant, intelligent, Black entertainers within the Leicester community is very rewarding.
“I love giving them something to aspire to because I don’t want young Black people to feel intimidated by public platforms. I want them to know that they can access people who feel far away.
“Telling their stories and feeling like I’m having an impact on their lives is what drives me.”
Born in South East London, Aminata was raised by her mum and grandma who migrated to the UK from Sierra Leone in the late 1980s. Often finding herself to be the only Black person in the room, Aminata grasped the importance of equal representation early on.
During the final year of her degree she realised she could make a difference through storytelling, after she was introduced to Verbatim theatre, in which plays are constructed from the exact words spoken by people interviewed on a particular event or topic.
Keen to continue learning and researching after graduating in 2011, Aminata stayed on at DMU to study an MA in Drama. She said: “I started exploring Black theatre and why it exists, alongside so many other Black movements. The answer, of course, is because we still don’t have racial equality.
“I also started interviewing people and producing performances. For me, it’s always been about the stories and about giving people a platform to tell their own.”
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Her work earned her the title of Leicester's Young Person of the Year 2012 at the African and Caribbean Achievement Awards, and a year later she was nominated for The Woman's Start-up Business of the Year Award by Leicestershire for Business.
“For years I didn’t want to be the Black person talking about Black things. But I realised that I was that person all along, simply because I am Black and talk from a Black perspective,” she said.
“Many of us walk around carrying the weight of representing the Black race, trying to combat the negative stereotypes and rise above the injustices. Since the passing of George Floyd though, Black people have had enough.”
In June, Aminata chose to mark her 30th birthday by joining a Black Lives Matter march in London.
She said: “It was an empowering way to spend a big birthday, surrounded by people from all walks of life at the peak of a global pandemic, protesting against the even greater pandemic that is racism.
“Since then, I’ve been having a lot more honest conversations with my white friends and with white people in general. It’s been really refreshing.”
Honest conversations about being a woman of colour is also the focus of the award-winning The Sista Collective podcast, which Aminata hosts alongside three other BBC radio presenters.
Aminata credits her decision to stay in Leicester after graduating in helping her to get where she is today. “When I came to a DMU Open Day, I was immediately sold and I cancelled all of my visits to other unis. The facilities were amazing and I felt so comfortable on campus,” she said.
“New students can really take ownership of their time here. DMU and the wider city offers so many amazing opportunities for you to grow. Leicester is a great place for creative entrepreneurs.”
Connect with Aminata on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn.
Posted on Friday 16th October 2020