CHARLOTTE HAWKINS INTERVIEW: Mum of one, TV and radio presenter

CHARLOTTE HAWKINS INTERVIEW: Mum of one, TV and radio presenter

“I DIDN’T REALLY KNOW WHERE TO START, BUT I JUST HELD ON TO THE FACT THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”

Mum of one, TV and radio presenter, Charlotte Hawkins has firmly cemented a place as one of Britain’s most loved TV presenters. She is one of the first faces millions of Brits see each morning, as co-host of ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Charlotte has enjoyed a successful career particularly over the last decade, but she worked incredibly hard to get there, showing unwavering determination in an extremely competitive field to achieve her dream career. Like so many of us, although she is living out her career dreams, she too has to constantly juggle work, parenthood and get through the various challenges life can throw at us.

We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with Charlotte and her adorable daughter 8-year-old, Ella-Rose (who definitely stole the show), at the breathtaking Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey; where we made the most of the beautiful scenery for the photoshoot and I sat down with Charlotte for a chat about having a successful career alongside being a doting Mum. Charlotte shared how she bravely overcame her biggest challenge to date following the loss of her beloved father just before giving birth to her daughter; how she hopes to inspire her daughter to believe anything is possible if you work hard enough; and how Hollywood Actor Bradley Cooper features in the highlight of her career…

BROOD Edition 1 - Charlotte Hawkin
CHARLOTTE HAWKINS AND HER DAUGHTER ELLA ROSE
IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©

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Lucy Mecklenburg Interview

INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE HAWKINS

Did you always know what you wanted to do for a career and how determined was you to achieve your career goals?

Charlotte – “Yes, I always wanted to work in news, I always wanted to be a reporter, a presenter – I was just intrigued by that whole world! I was put off initially though, because it just felt really competitive, and I kept thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this?’ Then I worked for a year in advertising, and what I realised through doing that, was that being a reporter/presenter really was my dream and I was going to spend the rest of my life regretting it, if I didn’t give it my very best shot!

I remember thinking, if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say that I’ve tried, but I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t give it a go. So, after I finished my job in advertising, I began a post graduate diploma in broadcast journalism. I was then lucky enough to get a job as a trainee for ITV Meridian, and I just kind of worked my way up over the years. I was super determined though, and I wanted to make sure that I gave it my all. Whether that was through working crazy hours, or sticking my neck out and going to people and saying, ‘Can I try this? Can I get some practise doing this? I can get some work experience doing that’. Basically, pestering a lot of people along the way! [she laughs]

I feel very lucky to be doing a job that I always dreamed about doing. Not everybody gets that chance and I feel so grateful to still enjoy it all these years later. Every day is different, every day is challenging, and it just means it makes life so much more interesting and rewarding when you’re doing a job like that.”

At what point in your career did you become a mum and how did you find that transition?

Charlotte -“On Good Morning Britain my alarm clock goes off at 2.45am – which is still a bit of a shock every morning! [laughs] However, it does mean that I can organise my day where I still spend a lot of time at home – especially back in those early days when I went back to work. As soon as I had finished at Good Morning Britain, I could go back and spend the rest of the day with Ella-Rose as a baby. Obviously, I would be super tired. It would be really hard when I had been up through the night and then I’d be getting up to go work so early, so I just had to be really organised and make sure that I had the right care in place for her when I wasn’t there, so that I could go to work and completely trust the fact that I could switch off and focus on my work because I knew that she was being well looked after. Then when I would get back home, I was able to spend time with her and just focus on Ella-Rose. I do feel lucky that I could and still can do that, because I’ve got friends who do various jobs, but they each have to go into their workplace all day every day, and at least for me I could still spend a good amount of time with her.”

Charlotte Hawkins
CHARLOTTE HAWKINS AND HER DAUGHTER ELLA ROSE | IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©

How do you try keep the ‘right balance’ between work and family life.

Charlotte – “I think that I’ve tried to continue to achieve balance, by going to work, throwing everything into making it work whilst I’m there and focusing solely on that; but also, then going back home and doing the same there and throwing myself completely into family life. I think it’s important to protect that family time as well. For us it’s about protecting our weekend family time as much as we can, and if we are doing things at different times of the day, we just make sure that Ella-Rose is happy with the set up and we’re happy with the set up. I think you just have to try your best and plan everything with military precision really.” 

People talk a lot about ‘mum guilt’ is it something that you’ve experienced and if so, how have you dealt with it?

Charlotte – “I don’t think people should even use those words, ‘mum-guilt’ ‘parent-guilt’ what have you got to feel guilty about, you know? As long as you love your children and you have a plan in place for their care when you’re not there, who’s to say what’s the best set up for your child anyway! Children want to be loved, they want to know that people care for them, and that the people who are there with them are giving them quality time. I think if you’re happy as a family, and the work set up for you means that you then look forward to having the quality time with them, and you go lovely holidays with them and treasure that time with your children as well, then you have no reason to feel guilty.  

It’s not the right set up for every family, and there are parents that are there 100% of the time with their children, and of course that’s perfectly fine if that’s what works for them, and they are happy. I think that because we just have Ella-Rose, we have always felt like it’s important that she goes and spends time with friends, that she goes and spends time with other family members, and she has done that right from being a young age. She’s been used to spending time with other people and she’s very happy in other people’s company. I know some children who are very clingy though because they’ve only spent time with their parents, and that’s just because that’s what they are used to. Again, that set up is completely fine if that’s what works for those parents, and those children, but for me I wanted to make sure that Ella-Rose was comfortable in lots of different environments, and that she was sociable & happy with going to see lots of different people, to experience lots of different places and I think by doing that it has really benefitted her.

It’s all about building resilience in our children, but at the same and you want to make sure that they are comfortable in lots of different situations. They need that so that as they go through life, for example starting at a new school, or new job where they don’t know anyone, they have to be able to be comfortable in lots of different situations, so I think actually the earlier you can start that the better. As long as they know, where you are, when you’re coming back, that there is a plan in place that they’re happy with, then that’s the most important thing.”  

Ella-Rose is watching you having a successful career, after following your dreams. Do you hope that it inspires Ella-Rose into believing anything is possible, so that she too follows her dreams?

Charlotte – “Yes, absolutely! I think it’s really important to show our children that hard work pays off and that’s the message I want to give her. I want her to know that if there’s a dream job that you want to do, and you throw everything into making that work, if you’re determined and you don’t let things put you off, then you can achieve it. And whether that means getting the right qualifications, working long hours etc, if there’s a job that you really want to do then you must give your best shot!

I think it’s important that you lead by example, and you show them that you can make it work. I want Ella-Rose to achieve her dreams, to work hard for them and to be happy. I’m not going to force her into any particular career, I just want her to be happy with the path that she chooses. I think in my mind anyway it’s about pushing yourself, challenging yourself and making sure that you have new experiences, new adventures and making sure that life doesn’t get boring!”

What has been the most challenge time during your career and how did you overcome it?

Charlotte – “I lost my Dad a month before I gave birth to Ella-Rose. And I needed to go back to work after a certain amount of time, so I went back to work four months after having Ella-Rose. I kind of needed that structure back in my life, but emotionally I was still kind of all over the place, as I think I had delayed grieving for my Dad because I was having Ella-Rose. I wanted to be all happy and smiley for her, and when I was pregnant, and my Dad had died, I didn’t want to her to feel that sadness, so I tried to postpone it – but of course that was always going to come back at some point! So, I was on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for quite some time afterwards I think. The interesting thing about my job is however you’re feeling in the morning, being on breakfast television you have to have a smile on your face, you have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed, and you know sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to do when you’re feeling sad – to put a smile on your face. There are other times I think you can kind of make yourself feel a bit better, because you think ‘I’m getting up, I’m going to work, I’m keeping it all together, I still manage to smile!’ And I think you just have to keep thinking – this will pass. This isn’t going to last forever. I just need to keep going, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other! And I think when you are going through these times, when things are really tough, or they feel insurmountable, you just have to try and think. ‘Okay, don’t panic, let’s just what tomorrow brings’, but it will pass. It’s hard but sometimes you have to just ride it out and keep doing those things that day by day make you feel a little better. Whether that’s being with people you love, going out and getting some exercise, taking a bit of time to do those things to put a smile on your face – a real smile on your face. You have to be thankful for the things you have on a daily basis as well and realise that those are the things that will get you through it.”

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Charlotte – “There’s been a lot of things, I’ve interviewed so many amazing people that I feel so lucky to have met, including Oprah – who is obviously amazing at interviews, so that was equally a bit scary! [she laughs] But I think for me the highlight of my career has to be when got I asked to take part in the Bradley Copper film Burnt. It is such a highlight for me, and I’ll never forget the day that a Hollywood Film crew came into the studio, and I was the breakfast TV presenter interviewing Bradley Cooper, it absolutely blew my mind! I’d read the script and learnt script, and we sat there, and we had filmed it all and then the director came over and whispered something in Bradley Coopers ear. I didn’t really know what was going on, and then they said ‘That was all great, everything was spot on, but we’re just going to do one more take as we just want to try something a little bit different’. And then Bradley just went completely off script and pretended that everything was going wrong and was looking at the wrong camera and I was just thinking, what is going on! This wasn’t in the script! [she laughs] But, I just went along with it and that’s the take that they used, but I think they really wanted that whole vibe, as his character was supposed to be a really grumpy chef, who kicked up a fuss about everything. So, for me being in Hollywood film like that, and I guess it really hit home where I was at in my career. I got invited to the premiere, which was amazing! And I was sat on an aeroplane one day, and the person in front of me was watching the film and my face popped up and I couldn’t believe, (well I still can’t believe) that I’ve been in that film, and I felt like tapping him on the shoulder and saying, “That’s me!” [she laughs] That was a real pinch-me moment.

My career has been a bit crazy, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world – even with the 2.45am starts!”

Do you have any standout ‘BROOD Moments’ where the juggle has led to a bit of a ‘parent fail’?

Charlotte “Oh, there’s so many, but there’s a recent one where it was one of these days at school where you’ve got to dress up in a themed outfit, and I forgotten that she had to dress up in toga. But I reassured her it was fine, because essentially a toga was the same as a bed sheet, so I told her we’d make it work and we’ll just wrap one around her and then tie it with like curtain tie or something. And I thought it looked pretty good, but she was not convinced at all, she said it just looked like a bed sheet. [smiling] So, I was saying to her, well traditionally that’s how they looked. But what I hadn’t really envisaged was that a lot of the other parents would have gotten special outfits – that were not bedsheets! And there was a moment of mortification when I waved her off and she was walking alongside someone wearing a full-on medusa outfit, and all of these other fancy outfits and I could see this bedsheet slipping down already and I just thought ‘No, that was a bit of fail!’ So, I felt disappointed on her behalf, and I felt disappointed that, that had happened. However, you always have to see the positives in these things, and I thought, well that’s going to build a lot of resilience that one! [she laughs] The thing is, they do have to get used to things not quite going to plan and just making the best of it. It’s happened to all of us over the years. Hopefully it won’t scar her and she’s not still talking about it in 20 years’ time – “Mum, I remember that day you sent me to school in a bedsheet that was around my ankles before I had even got in!” [she laughs] Luckily, I had made her wear shorts and t-shirt underneath too!”

What advice would you give to someone who is following their career dreams, whilst juggling parenthood?

Charlotte – “Don’t aim for perfection. I don’t think it’s healthy to strive for perfection in everything, because then it’s just an unattainable standard. So, I think you have to be realistic. Even if you didn’t do anything else in life, but look after your children and pack for them, sort for them, cook for them, that’s not always healthy either, so I think it’s just about making sure that you try get balance right. Things aren’t always going to go to plan, but that’s life. You do have to give your children that message too, along with the tools to be able to deal with it. To help them look for the lessons when things go wrong, how to learn from it and then we move on.

I would also say don’t look at others and assume that they’ve got it all figured out all of the time – because they won’t have! That’s just the front that everyone likes to put out for public perception, because everyone has got the same juggle, the same struggles, the same balancing act going on. So never compare yourself to someone else, you’ve just got to make sure that as long as your children are happy and healthy that’s all you need, that’s all you can wish for!”

Charlotte Hawkins
CHARLOTTE HAWKINS AND HER DAUGHTER ELLA ROSE | IMAGES BY TOM PITFIELD FOR BROOD MAGAZINE ©
Simon Wood
Written by
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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