Born Victoria Nwayawu Nwosu-Hope, the abbreviated Vick Hope, which she prefers, perfectly captures the British TV-and-radio presenter’s positive and effusive disposition.
Raised in Newcastle, Hope grew up in a part of the country that is home base for Geordie Shore—the U.K.’s answer to Jersey Shore—summed up by The Guardian as “one long advert for drinking.” The daughter of a Nigerian mother and a Geordie father, Hope has spoken in interviews of the bigotry and discrimination they faced as a mixed-race family in the northeast of England at that time. Such was the atmosphere of her upbringing that when she first hinted at applying to Cambridge University, her parents responded with a concerned, “I’m not sure it’s really for you,” Hope says. “They didn’t want me to feel disappointed at not getting in, or out of place when I got there.”
Hope did apply, and she was accepted to study modern languages, graduating fluent in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. At times, she says, her place did feel “tokenistic,” but what Hope has since realized is just “how many people felt like they had imposter syndrome at Cambridge. We all have things that we don’t feel are enough, or we’re not good enough. I just assumed I was an odd one out there.” That said, Hope is also the first to admit Cambridge is far from perfect when it comes to its record of race and class inclusiveness. “As an establishment, and hopefully they are getting better, it’s not hugely diverse. And it’s an issue that stems from something much deeper than just their application process.”
While at Cambridge, Hope began to model, mostly for the millennial-minded e-commerce site Asos, where she was presented with a conveyor belt of 30 to 40 outfits a day to wear and shoot. It wasn’t particularly glamorous or rewarding, but it started her on the path that followed: presenting for MTV, appearing as a contestant on the British television dance contest Strictly Come Dancing, and co-hosting Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp, one of the U.K.’s most popular morning shows.
At the start of this month, Hope, now 31, joined Radio 1 to co-present Life Hacks—a long-standing BBC program with the tagline “Vick and Katie help hack your life to make it better”—with Katie Thistleton. It’s a show Hope remembers listening to when she was younger. “They talked about sex, relationships, mental health, things that I never heard talked about, or I never felt able to talk about with my family or my teachers. But realizing other people were feeling those things, too, or that other people went through those things, too, you feel like you’re not alone.”
This is important to Hope, who believes “the more connected we are online, often the more lonely we are.” And as someone with increasing influence, particularly among the Gen Z demographic, Hope has traditionally been careful not to share too much beyond career highlights with her 111,000 Instagram followers, as she “worried about things being taken out of context.”
But it’s an approach she’s starting to question. “I do believe that it’s a platform to get a message out—if there’s a message to get out. I think particularly over the last few months with the Black Lives Matter movement, using it has been important.”
Bridget Arsenault is the London Editor for AIR MAIL