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Turning up the base
head of MTV Base PRODUCTION, jasmine dotiwala tells us how high she can go…
It seems like a dozen years ago that you were a columnist in Eastern Eye...
I used to be a presenter on The Word on Channel 4 and it was a girl-about-town column. I don’t think the Asian community knew what to make of me. I remember at the time my mum’s friends were horrified, saying: ‘What is this girl doing? She’s a party girl?’ I had a real job, but because my column was all about girls having a wild old time, it was frowned upon in the Asian community. It was probably just a bit ahead of its time.
You went from a runner to a presenter on The Word very quickly…
When I was leaving university, I wrote to lots of independent TV companies asking for work experience, and found myself at Planet 24 making cups of tea and arranging lunches. I was helping out the camera crew for The Word, and was basically mucking around, taking the piss out of the sexy girls and so on, and they asked me to audition.
Is success all about attitude?
Of course. You’ll work harder if you have the right attitude, but it’s also about honesty. You need to think about whether you’re unique, and what makes you better than the rest.
You seem to have been involved in countless Mariah Carey programmes...
Mariah and I have been good friends for about 12 years now. We have shared personality traits, sense of humour and spent many vacations together. When she’s in London, she’ll come over for dinner, and when I’m in the States, we’ll try and collide dates for holidays. We’re supportive friends – when she started talking about me in her interviews, I knew it was okay to tell people about her as well.
How much is climbing up the ladder to do with connections in the industry?
Once upon a time, it was very much so because showbiz was a very closed-off industry. Hard work and ambition are obviously paramount, but it’s always worth being nice to everyone you meet, because you never know who you’ll run in to when it comes to this kind of thing. I used to be a runner for a producer and she’d complain about the littlest thing like I’d put in too much sugar or not enough milk, then when I became a presenter, she ended up running around after me!
You were a presenter on MTV News. Do you miss being in front of the camera?
Not at all. I set out to be a presenter, but I think people who are presenters are gorgeous, young, confident people. I was always very conscious on TV as I don’t think I have that typical pretty face for it, so I’m much happier being on the other side of the camera where your performance isn’t centred around your appearance.
Talk us through your role at MTV Base
I’ve been at MTV for 12 years now. For the first 10 years, I was part of the MTV International News team, before moving onto MTV Base. At the time, there were a lot of criticisms about it only supporting American artists, being shallow, materialistic and showing only videos of naked girls and so on, and I set out to make sure people noticed the positive energy and social programming we also do. One of my ambitions was to make sure that we represented the UK in the US market – Dizzee Rascal, N-Dubz, Lethal Bizzle – and I pushed for them.
Is it all about glamorous parties and hanging out with celebs?