20th October 2016
Mailbox Sessions Takeover
5 minutes with: Suzanne Virdee
It’s the biggest event in the Mailbox calendar, as the Mailbox Sessions return to celebrate our first anniversary! Bigger, better and featuring even more exclusive sessions across the weekend, we’ll also be catching up with some of the stars of the show for a special takeover of our ‘5 minutes with’ interview.
Hosting no less than four of our exciting sessions across the weekend, we caught up with TV presenter Suzanne Virdee, to talk fashion, beauty, Birmingham and more!
1. Hi Suzanne! Let’s start with a little about you and the day job…
I always wanted to be a journalist. From a very young age I wrote and produced my own newspaper which I sold to family and friends (well, made them buy!).
How did I break in to journalism? Well I didn’t give up and kept banging on doors until one opened and I landed a job as a trainee newspaper reporter. Since then I’ve worked for BBC Radio, ITV News Central, presented on BBC Midlands Today and BBC Breakfast, and now I’m a presenter and reporter for ITV News in London. My job is a very privileged one because I get to meet and interview famous people, and very varied too. For example, a couple of weeks ago I was interviewing Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) about his new films, and then the next week I was reporting live for the ITV National News about the junior doctors appeal against their new working contract. I’ve also interviewed the Prime Minister, and presented documentaries!
The job is highly pressurised but there’s never a dull moment, and it can lead you to amazing opportunities. Just this summer, I was asked to appear in a cameo role as a newscaster in a film called The Death and Life of John F Donovan. It meant flying to Canada for about three lines of script, but it was so much fun and what an experience.
I’m also passionate about helping girls to achieve their dreams and to be resilient to all the 21st century throws at them. As we know from so many recent news reports, growing up is tough nowadays, so I’ve recently written a book called A Teenage Girl’s Guide to Being Fabulous! It’s for 11-16 year olds to help them navigate those tricky teen years.
2. You’re hosting no less than four events for us at the Mailbox Sessions, how did you know this was an event you wanted to get involved with?
I get asked to host a lot of events and I do rather pick and choose. But this one was a definite YES. I used to work at the Mailbox when I presented BBC Midlands Today and have loved seeing how the Mailbox has become a real jewel in the crown of the city. It’s got such a lot to offer and each event I’m hosting really showcases that.
3. One of the sessions is finding your colours for autumn/winter; what’s your favourite colour to wear and why?
That’s a really hard question to answer. I think my mood dictates what colours I wear. For work on screen I go for fairly bright or neutral, block colours. I go through phrases of loving certain colours; a few years ago everything I bought was purple! This winter I’m loving all the dark rich reds out there and the khaki coloured greens, whilst my off duty wardrobe will have quite a few winter floral patterns. There’re so many out there at the moment and I think they’re gorgeous.
I think it’s true though that just because a colour or style is in fashion it doesn’t mean it suits everyone. I think we’ve all bought something because it looked fabulous in the shop but then when we’ve tried it on at home realise the colour and shape does nothing for us – I know I have anyway! I’m looking forward to hearing how not to waste money like that and get it right first time!
4. You’ll also be shaking things up at the cocktail masterclass with Aluna; if you could create your own signature Suzanne cocktail, what would you include and why?
It’s no secret among my girl friends or my husband that I’m rather partial to a cocktail! A cheeky cocktail kicks off the night if I’m out, and when we have friends over for dinner, I’ll take on the role of bartender to mix a few signature cocktails. I don’t like sweet cocktails, so normally I go for something like a cosmo or maybe an apple martini. A gin or vodka based drink is always a winner, but I love champagne too, so a cocktail with champagne would be heavenly. I can’t wait to see what Aluna serve up and get a few more recipe ideas.
5. A little bird tells us you celebrated your birthday earlier this month, but what’s the best birthday present you’ve ever received?
Gosh, now this is a tough question to answer because I risk offending so many people! I have to say my friends and family know me so well and I always get lovely gifts. But the best birthday present was from my husband and was a Tiffany and Co necklace from the Fifth Avenue store in New York, in homage to one of my all-time favourite films Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
6. You’re originally from the Midlands, but now spend a lot of time working and presenting in London. Be honest, do you prefer Birmingham or London, and why?
Well I’m a Birmingham girl so I am biased towards Birmingham, but I also love our capital city. It really is an amazing place to work and play, although getting around it for work isn’t always easy! London is like no other city in the country so it’s an unfair comparison in some ways, but Birmingham has never been better, especially for shopping or eating. I believe we have five Michelin starred restaurants which is amazing. I don’t think I can choose, I genuinely love both cities and I’ve got the best of both worlds working in one and living in the other!
7. Where is your favourite spot in Birmingham, and why?
My favourite quiet spot to wander and watch the world go by is Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston. I used to go there as a very young child to feed the ducks and play crazy golf with my grandparents. I still go there now; it’s just a stone’s throw away from the city centre but a world away from the hustle and bustle. However ever since the wooden windmill was burned down by vandals it’s not been quite the same! I also love watching the city wake up, so grabbing an early morning coffee before a meeting and sitting by the canal watching joggers and people head to work is nice too.
8. Just imagine we’ve given you a £500 gift card to spend here at the Mailbox. There’s just one rule, you have to spend it all in one store… so where are you headed for a shopping spree?
That’s tough – anyone who knows me, knows I adore shoes. I’ve bought shoes from Daniel Footwear, LK Bennett and Harvey Nichols in the past, but if I was given £500 to spend in one store then I’d have to choose Harvey Nichols because of the variety. They’ve got so much choice under one roof, from the shoes to clothes and you can even get your hair done and a massage. There’s also the added bonus that after shopping and a little pampering I could go for a nice lunch too.
9. You’re used to being the one in front of the camera, but it’s time to take a step back. If you could pick anyone to play you in a movie about your life, who would you pick and why?
Oh my – what a question. I’m not sure anyone would want to make a film about me. However, as we’re in the realms of fantasy I’d choose the brilliant and stunning Natalie Portman. She’s got brown hair and eyes after all!
10. And finally, describe the Mailbox in 5 words:
First class shopping and fun.