TV presenter shares ‘disgusting’ story of the racism she experienced as a Black woman in industry

A former CITV presenter has alleged she was told “I’m being held back because I’m Black” and that she would not be given an opportunity to transition out of children’s TV “because Black doesn’t sell”.

Leah Charles-King spoke to Metro.co.uk about a meeting with commissioners at multiple stations, where she was first told she would later get the chance to present an entertainment show.

“They were taking Stephen [Mulhern] and all the rest and I was told I’d be next – and I was never next. They said they’d send the boat back for me and the boat never came.”

Charles-King continued: “They said to me, “Leah, I think you’re one of the best presenters, there’s nothing to be said about your talent. But people in the UK don’t really enjoy seeing Black people in the UK, it doesn’t really sell for us.

“When I was told this, it was very matter of fact and as if they were letting me in on a secret, as if it was OK.”

This had an impact on her mental health and she said she has “paid the price” for working in the industry.

“I pray that justice will prevail and I’ll have that seat at the table that I should have had 20 years ago.” 

Charles-King said she also used to be pitted against fellow Black children’s TV presenter Angellica Bell, who worked on CBBC, with the pair being told the other was talking about them behind their back.

It was not until they met at the Children’s Bafta Awards they realised it was “all industry nonsense” and the two presenters are now close friends.

Charles-Kingadded: “We believe that we’re very different presenters but we’re aware the industry won’t necessarily see us as different presenters. They’ll see us as the same because we’re Black. You couldn’t get two different presenters if you tried. 

“The same way they put Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton together as they’ve done plenty of times, would they put Angellica and I [together]? I’m not sure because we’re just two Black women.”

“Are things changing? I don’t know, I would like to hope so at some point but this is obviously still happening.”

Social media users reacted to her experiences in the industry.

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