Broadcaster, influencer, LGBTQ ambassador, local Essex girl and everyone’s big social media sister: meet Helen Scott
Known for being the familiar voice we hear on BBC Radio Essex, Helen Scott has no limitations when it comes down to her career, the milestones she wants to reach and the glass ceilings she wants to break.
“It all stems from my childhood,” she says. “My mum was a renowned dancer and ran a successful dance school in Essex, and my dad was a photographer who photographed live musicians, such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones. So, it was inevitable that I would end up doing something in the entertainment industry.
“I started dancing from the moment I could walk,” Scott continues. “From the age of seven I trained at a performing college, and from the age of 16, I got a scholarship to a dance college – I was the youngest in my year group.” It was during this period in Scott’s life where she began discovering her true identity. “During that time, I realised I was gay, right at the beginning of my entertainment life. Things have changed since I was 17 – things were so different. In the entertainment business, gay men were very commonly seen, very much celebrated in fact. We all love a camp guy, being widely accepted on our television. However, I had never seen lesbians on TV, magazines or movies. And if you did, it was always fitting the typical stereotype, or they were portrayed in a negative light.
“I was 16, this is when you start truly coming into your own,” she adds, “I was becoming my own woman. I felt that this is where I should start to be understanding who I am alongside discovering who I was. This was hard, especially being in an environment where it was full of straight women. It was difficult, but it was also like taking a breath of fresh air.”
What strikes me throughout this interview was Scott’s awareness of how she is perceived that truly shaped her story. “I am so lucky to have this lovely story, but I also do not take my privileges for granted,” she says. “I am white, blonde and fit the typical ‘fem’ stereotype, so I managed to dodge abuse in the street or people making homophobic comments. I realise that this is, sadly, a rare coming out story.”
It didn’t take long for her career to flourish. “After dancing, I had a successful career as a performer. Quickly, I found that I like to be in control of my own life, and I like to be my own boss. Performing didn’t give me this. I moved quickly into performance management, I started group on Facebook called the hustle with 55,000 members helping people in the industry find jobs. It really was just a safe space for performers to help their career. I then started my own entertainments company – as I became very established in the dance world. I ran this with my mum. And then I discovered the cabaret world. Proud Cabaret club were running a competition to find the next cabaret star. Long story short, I won the competition and was offered a contract to burlesque for Proud Cabaret.”
Little did Scott know that this would be the turning point in her career. “All the hosts sing at Proud. One night the host called in sick, so I was asked to host. This is the night that changed my life forever.” With a beaming smile, she continues: “The very next day, I rebranded myself as a presenter – with little to none experience, I badgered anyone to give me experience. I hosted dance competitions, and started to build up my reputation from there.”
Over that summer, Scott hosted many Pride events before landing her job at the BBC. “I hosted BBC Radio Essex for nine months – my dream job. After my contract with them ended, I began freelancing, and I’m set to have another radio show with them called ‘Queer Essex’, alongside launching an all-female members club, and developing my own production company.”
With over 17,000 followers on Instagram, alongside her presenting and radio career, Scott also takes her role as influencer and ambassador for the LGBTQ community extremely seriously. “It started out by me just wanting to get to 10,000 followers for work purposes, and then along the way on my social media journey, I found the most amazing community who are my friends. For my social platform, I want people to know they are amazing. I want them to come to my page or watch my stories and feel happy. I want to make them feel like they can achieve anything. And alongside it, fortunately I am able to be an ambassador in the queer space, and share that love is love.
“I’m purposely super open about a lot of topics,” she continues. “I want to promote the ideas of therapy, vulnerability, insecurities – I speak about it all. Everyone should go to therapy if they can. Think about it like this – you go to the gym to keep your body healthy, why shouldn’t you go to therapy to keep your mind healthy.” Whilst taking on many roles in her career, at the centre of it all, Scott’s ambition to spread her light and positivity remains untouched. As an ambassador and campaigner for the LGBTQ community, and promoting her ‘you can be anything you want attitude’, it’s plain to see that Scott will not stop until she has everyone believing they can be anything they have ever wanted to be. Helen Scott – we salute you.