Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Interview -

Sweet serendip­ity: Na­dine doesn't be­lieve in plan­ning for the fu­ture too much and says the best things in her life have sim­ply hap­pened when she was en­joy­ing her­self

Na­dine Reid is hav­ing a break­out year. But she’s not your typ­i­cal wil­lowy young in­génue fromSoCoDu — born in Birm­ing­ham, some “35 to 40” years ago (she doesn’t want to get too spe­cific) and now a re­porter on Vir­gin Me­dia’s Xposé, Na­dine is one of the few black, plus-size women in Ir­ish pub­lic life. “Some­times I won­der if it was al­ways my­des­tinyto work in the me­dia,” she says, whenwe fi­nallyspeak, af­terthe in­creas­ing­lyin-de­mand pre­sen­ter was forced to resched­ule four times.

Na­dine had stars in her eyes from a young age and proudly looks back on her turn as gang­ster moll Tal­lu­lah in a school pro­duc­tion of Bugsy Malone when she was 10. She went on to a de­gree in me­dia stud­ies, but her dream of be­ing in front of the cam­era was soon over­shad­owed by pres­sure to “get a real job”, she says, lead­ing to a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a make-up artist. “I landed my­self a de­cent role with MAC and did very well there — I had a com­pany car and credit card, and my fam­ily were re­ally proud of me. But af­ter 10 years, I thought, ‘There’s prob­a­bly some­thing more for me to do,’” she re­calls.

Shaken by the death of her grand­mother, Na­dine was look­ing for a change, and when a friend in­vited her to Dublin for a job in 2015, she was smit­ten. “Peo­ple of­ten ask me, ‘Why Ire­land?’ And I say, ‘Why not?’ I’m from Birm­ing­ham, and it’s just a flat fac­tory town,” she says, al­though she is quick to add that she loves get­ting home to visit fam­ily.

On In­sta­gram — Na­dine’s pre­ferred so­cial me­dia plat­form — she fre­quently shares mo­ti­va­tional quotes with her fol­low­ers, and she has adopted some of that lan­guage, de­scrib­ing her­self as “liv­ing my best life”, “en­joy­ing the path” and “feel­ing blessed”. She even has her “own per­sonal hash­tag”, #IfNad­sCanYouCan. But she’s also re­fresh­ingly un­fil­tered — apart from her dat­ing life, noth­ing is off the ta­ble and she’s breezy and chatty, with a bright, easy laugh.

Na­dine is an only child, with half-sib­lings on her fa­ther’s side, and was raised by her Ja­maican mother and ex­tended fam­ily. “I grew up in a sin­gle-par­ent fam­ily but I don’t feel com­fort­able us­ing that phrase, be­cause even though my mum was alone, she ac­tu­ally wasn’t. My un­cle would pick me up from school, my aunts were there… At ev­ery play or school event, I would have more fam­ily there than peo­ple with two par­ents,” she says cheer­fully. “I’m re­ally lucky, my mum gave me ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing. But I wasn’t spoilt — my mum would still go, ‘Do you re­ally need an­other piece of cake?’ Don’t get me wrong!”

She cred­its her mum with pay­ing her “black tax”, a term she picked up from co­me­dian Trevor Noah, who de­scribes his mother as us­ing her op­por­tu­ni­ties to help her fam­ily mem­bers, rather than her­self, to achieve the blank slate au­to­mat­i­cally af­forded to white peo­ple. “My mum al­ways taught me that I can achieve any­thing, re­gard­less of where I’m from, my size or any of that stuff,” she says. “She paid my black tax by mak­ing sure that I wasn’t a per­son that would have to feel, be­cause I’m black or from a Ja­maican fam­ily or a work­ing-class fam­ily, that I don’t have op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“My grand­par­ents came to the UK with noth­ing. My grandma used to work in the hos­pi­tal can­teen, my grand­dad used to make bul­lets in the bul­let fac­tory, my older un­cle worked in fac­to­ries mak­ing tyres, all these very ba­sic, me­nial jobs. I was never taught to think that be­cause you’re black, you can’t achieve things.”

Since mov­ing to Ire­land, Na­dine says she’s gone from be­ing “the black girl” to “the English girl”. “What I love about Ire­land is I find peo­ple are more likely to ask, ‘What part of Eng­land are you from?’ It’s in­ter­est­ing, be­cause they don’t ask, ‘What’s your eth­nic­ity? Are you from the Caribbean? Are you from Africa?’ I’ve had no neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences be­cause of my race. Some­times I feel more ner­vous about be­ing born in Bri­tain than be­ing black!” she cack­les.

When she ar­rived in Dublin three years ago, Na­dine knew just two peo­ple, but she quickly learned to say yes to ev­ery in­vi­ta­tion. “I’ve been re­ally lucky to meet so many peo­ple work­ing as a make-up artist — hair­dressers, pho­tog­ra­phers, edi­tors — by sim­ply be­ing in that scene,” she says.

She at­tended the Xposé Ben­e­fit Awards this year to sup­port her friend, hair stylist Trudy Hayes, and it

She went from make-up artist to me­dia star af­ter a chance meet­ing with the Xposé team mere months ago. Now Na­dine Reid is blaz­ing a trail for a fresh type of fem­i­nin­ity on our TV screens — and hav­ing a blast while she’s at it, she tells Mead­hbh McGrath

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