From being born and bred in South London to studying at a Russell group university, meet the woman who is set on turning her several passions into a profession. From blogging, to modelling and even strutting the runway; meet the German-speaking freelance journalist and Christian, Phoebe Parke.
Hannah: Have you lived in South London, UK, your whole life?
Phoebe: Yes indeed! I was born in Balham, then moved to Streatham when I went to Secondary school. I absolutely love how diverse South London is, you can have perfectly prepared curry goat for lunch, go shopping for authentic Indian spices in the market, and then go for dim sum and cocktails, all along one road.
H: How would you describe the experience of living there in 3 words?
Phoebe: Enlightening, humbling, and epic.
H: What urged you to learn German? Did you ever think you’d be fluent in it?
Phoebe: Learning a foreign language is probably one of my greatest achievements. I had to learn it at school and honestly it was only because it was a subject no one else liked that I worked so hard at it. I wanted to be the best in the class at something – and no one was excelling at German so I went for that! The great thing about German is that it is such a logical language; gloves are Handschuhe (hand shoes), a kettle is a Wasserkocher (water cooker) and a slug is a Nacktschnecke (naked snail).
After a while it grew into a real passion, but I could only dream of being fluent. Living in Berlin during the third year of my degree was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had – I learned so much about people, myself and what it means to be human.
H: Who inspires you on a daily basis?
Phoebe: My mother – she is one of the strongest people I know – so humble, so intelligent, there’s basically nothing that she can’t do. At my age she was doing all the things I am and more, at a time when there were way more obstacles for black women than there are today.
H: Where did you interest in modelling stem from? Does it make you feel empowered?
Phoebe: I’ve always wanted to be a model since I was a little girl (I was always the tallest in my class.) It wasn’t until I went to University that I really started pursuing it. When I signed to a modelling agency in 2013 it was a dream come true and seeing my picture on vogue.co.uk last year was surreal, London Fashion Week is my favourite time to model. I’ve learnt all of my make-up tips from having my make-up done before shows, and I definitely feel empowered when cat walking, although it is a skill that you have to learn, a London Underground tube platform is a great place to practice!
H: What are your daily tasks and role at CNN?
Phoebe: At CNN International I’m a freelance Associate producer for digital special projects – that basically means I get to write all sorts of different feature articles about topics from women’s rights and modern day slavery, to the latest innovations in technology and business.
I also work on some social engagement initiatives which means I think of innovative ways to get new audiences involved in our content through social media. As a Twitter addict – this is absolutely a dream come true for me.
H: Do you feel as though your position in such a worldwide renowned organisation is motivating others to follow in your footsteps?
Phoebe: I definitely hope so, I’m always willing to help people get to where I am now, because lots of people helped me – and I hope people will continue to help me get to the next level. I am slowly starting to see more people that look like me in the industry – and that is definitely encouraging.
H: What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Phoebe: It’s such a privilege to be able to tell people’s stories from all around the world. Sometimes there are so many different stories you want to tell and the challenge is finding the time to cover everything you are passionate about, and to tell all the stories that need telling.
H: You also do community radio which is great, is this more of a hobby or something you hope to develop into a passion?
Phoebe: I trained in radio journalism as part of my master’s degree and I’ve had a passion for it since then. I love the immediateness of it and didn’t realise it was going to be so much fun working at Wandsworth radio. I definitely want radio to be a big part of my career in the future and I’m currently working on plans for my own show – so watch this space!
H: What do you hope to be doing this time next year?
Phoebe: Hopefully I’ll still be working for CNN, and I would also like to be presenting my own radio show, and taking my modelling career to the next level.
I started my lifestyle blog three years ago because I wanted somewhere I could write about whatever I wanted – I hope to still be telling my story using my own platform next year.
H: You write about several different topics too which is great. Does this give the reader a deeper look into the life of Phoebe?
Phoebe: I love that I get the chance to write about everything from human trafficking to inspirational business women; it’s what really excites me about my job. I’m at my most open when I’m writing my beauty reviews – you have to be pretty honest when talking about your morning routine or how it felt when you had your first ever facial.
H: Do you feel free?
Phoebe: I feel at my freest when I’m at church or praying – there is such freedom in the word of God and in everything He has done through me. I’m forever grateful and will be forever free in Him.
Subject – Phoebe Parke
Writer – Hannah Ajala
Photographer – Kofi Dwaah Jr