Aspiring journalist, Akilah, was followed over her Year Dot, from leaving school to breaking into the world of media...

Akilah's Story

  1. View Video
Read Transcript

The above link will enable you to view or download the MP4 of this video

To view the video within the player on this site, please ensure you have Javascript turned on and the latest version of Flash installed.

Install Flash 9

Akilah Russell

In a nutshell


Leaving 6th form and starting college has been the making of Akilah. She’s spent the year trying to establish herself as a young journalist and has learnt heaps in the process. Here she reflects on her Year Dot and everything it has meant to her.

Akilah's to do list

  1. My dream in life and my main goal for the next year is to become a Print Journalist.
  2. Improve my writing and create a more professional portfolio - media experience is a must for what I want to do.
  3. Get myself ready for university!
  4. Meet lots of new people and get involved with a whole new life at uni.
  5. Get myself a job - my N.I. card isn’t just a shiny piece of plastic to admire lol.
  6. Join the student magazine and get my writing known around campus
  7. Finally, with all the change in my life, make the transition from teenager to twenty-something… We all have to grow up eventually… sad but true.

Akilah's big plan

Posted: 30/06/2008

My name is Akilah Russell and I am a 19 year old student finishing my A-levels in Psychology, English Literature and Media Studies. Once that’s all over I am going to start my degree in journalism at the University of the Arts, London. This is one of the most significant steps I need to take in order to follow my dream of becoming a print journalist. Like most people know, the British media takes no prisoners and attempting to break through their iron clad doors is not a job for the faint hearted. So beefing up my portfolio to a decent size is another important goal of mine.

Also, as this is my last year of being a teenager, another personal goal of mine is to make the complete transition from adolescent to adult. I want to be able to work in an adult environment (as a journalist!) without feeling terribly out of place. To do this, I think I need to grow up a bit!

Akilah's journal

Final Update: 22/06/2009

It is hard to say goodbye...

It took me so long to write this; but several phone calls from CH4, and a couple messages from my nagging conscience later, I finally sit and write my goodbyes to you all...

I would love to say something profound like Josh; that would and make you think about what I said hours after the words had left my lips.

Or maybe say something so sensual, soulful and poetic like Deborah, that makes you feel like we are kindred spirits - even though we have never met.

I could try and crack a joke like Simon, and make you laugh away any of the awkward moments that most long goodbyes entail.

I could try and sing you a song I wrote - like Sheila and Sam - and make you dance like Jade or Aaron, to a melody I made up in my mind.

Maybe I should act it out for you like Isobella. Or be practical and set up a business like Tom for those who don’t want to go to Uni OR say goodbye either.

Or lets vote on whether we should say goodbye not!

I agree with Claire on the importance of democracy.

We could fight them like Chloe... and I bet we would be winners like Gilly!

But like Nicolette, I guess we all have decisions to make. Whether people like it or not.

So I am going to take on my responsibility Jamal; and do what life has asked of me.

But lets not forget that I am a writer after all, so let me set the scene...

As I stop myself from bursting out into an impromptu (out of tune) rendition of ''Que Sera''- whilst fighting back my tears - I melodramatically wave goodbye with my handkerchief in slow motion as my train finally pulls out of the station...and before I finally disappear into the horizon...

I say to you all…


as my figure fades to black...

...neither of us look back... Only forwards to the future... Love as always, Akilah x

Read all of Akilah's blogs here

Still want more?

Are you a budding journalist looking for more information about how to get started? Want to share ideas in your classroom? Check out the websites below for examples of Akilah's work, specialist information and useful teaching resources:

Akilah's blog

Read Akilah's article in The Voice

Media in Education

Media Teaching Resources

Your messages

Akilah's fantastic comments:

Hi Akilah,
I spoke to you on Sunday about a youth run comedy club for young people. You mentioned that either you or someone else from your magazine would come along and interview us so we could get some publicity for it. My youth forum which has organised this and got external funding for it meets every Tuesday but can meet other days too.
Thanks for your interest and time.
Lilian Jones

Lilian Jones (1844 days ago) Report Comment

i'm 17 and live in a small rural town so there is very little oppurtunity to get involved in things or get work experience for journalism. do you know if i could be involved in anything through just the internet as it is also difficult for me to travel. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated thanks

laura (1862 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of Akilah RussellI have been away in Jamaica for the last two weeks, and I came back to see all these messages from you guys (below) and I was taken aback by all of your support.

It means alot to me to say the least, and it gives me so much encouragement, so THANKYOU SO MUCH!

I am currently working for ctrlaltshift ( magazine, and I have been between there and RWD for most of the summer. I have also been working on a website called, as well as starting my own blog, plus more.

My advice to anyone that really wants to be a writer/journolist would be to get as much experience as you can!

If - like me- you have no idea how to get started at first, check out some companies like ''Headliners'' who work with and get experience for young people who want to get involved in the media.

Also, don't be afraid to ask for some on your own. The worst thing they can say is no, and at least you tried.

If anyone does need help or wants anymore advice I would be happy to do so, as so many people have been kind enough to help me along the way.

I really hoped somebody somewhere got something from watching YEARDOT, and nothing was in vain...

so,thankyou all once again...



Akilah Russell (1884 days ago) Report Comment

just wanted to wish you luck with your work placement hope it goes well

lee (1888 days ago) Report Comment

I watched you on channel 4 this morning, and I wish you the best of luck, and hope you achieve your dreams and become a Journalist. x

Stephanie (1889 days ago) Report Comment

I watched ou on channel 4 this morning and I think you should be really proud of how well you're doing. I wish you lots of success for your future.

Kate (1889 days ago) Report Comment

hey akilah i saw u on year dot the other morning i was nice watch story and and see ur process os keep up the good work and p.s your 1 sexy girl lol xx

daniel (1893 days ago) Report Comment

Akilah you are so great,I've enjoyed every bit of you when i was watching your footage.keep it up and you most of you are beautiful.luv ya!!!

Andrew Leslie Arthur (1893 days ago) Report Comment

Wow saw your story on the reruns of Yeardot this morning and was really chuffed for you and the fact that you had the strength determinination and courage to choose a different path from your friends. That shows guts, true determination, possitivity and independence of mind and spirit. I have just finished Reading your blogs and was further inspired! Your writting is truely engaging, vivid and on point. I have the feeling you have moved on now from the goodbye in your last blog but just wanted to wish you every sucess and advise you to continue to listen to that inner voice that always wants and knows it deserves more out of life! May any hurdles in your life only serve to make you stronger and learn how to climb and reach higher. Can I also ask for an update on how you are doing and any advice you would give to others wanting to become journalists or writers? Best of luck in all you do I'll be looking out for your name in the future! Your one to watch.

Marsha (1899 days ago) Report Comment

i seen you on channel 4 this morning :D good luck with the career very happy to see people who wanna achieve and break away from the normal stereotypical mould that has been set, and another thing you are a beatiful young lady so yea always believe in yourself and never let anyone else take what u want away from you xx

Savage (1899 days ago) Report Comment

just saw u on tv, i just wanted to cum tru and say, ur doin ur ting, keep up the good work.... u gave me joke, u aint on da edge u innnnn da hood .. dats da great dalston martket u was inner lol ...
but it was good to see a good lookin black female stayin up , and doin wot she needs to. big up on bein the 1st member of ur fam to go uni,, its a good look.
but i wanted to no more about ur writing, u said u do poems... could i read some?... get bck to me

take care

karma (1899 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of Deborah StevensonYour goodbye is beautiful. I say we should so some video diaries together. I miss you

Deborah Stevenson (1907 days ago) Report Comment

i am really impressed keep up the good work and keep ur faith i speak success onto ur life. email me

jr (1966 days ago) Report Comment

Happy birthday!!! Goodbye teenage years and hello the rest of your life ;) xxx

Amanda (2071 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of Deborah A Stevensonwe...

are awesome.

Deborah A Stevenson (2084 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of Deborah A StevensonLOVE YOU!!!


Deborah A Stevenson (2092 days ago) Report Comment

hi i jus watch your video an i think you done great ...keep doing you

william (2093 days ago) Report Comment


Just want to keep encoraging you to push for whatever you believe in. Also don't be afraid to use any experience that you have had, eg. T.v, sport etc. I thought I may have recognized you from a t.v. Program from 2003, 'trust me I'm a teenager. Anyhow good luck and God Bless. Remember anything is possible with God

Manny (2097 days ago) Report Comment

Hello. Its great to see you doing so well and really getting into the job. It's been very interesting to watch as I also have an interest in the area. Congrats, keep on going!

Jamie (2098 days ago) Report Comment

Thank so much for all your positive comments, i swear it means so much to me!

I am definately going to do some research on that case Leigh-Ann, sound super interesting.

Nick do you have a myspace? You can message me directly on there if you like?

I am at Uni right now so i have to run before me teacher sees what i am doing! lol.

I asked to hear some good news, and reading what you guys have said has definately lifted my spirits.

I am kind of at a loss of what to do next...what do you guys think?...any ideas?

Akilah (2100 days ago) Report Comment

Hey girl, congrats 4 gettin in2 Uni, thats a taks on its own, keep up the hard work hun its payin off already, much luv, ur an inspiration 2 all young females. x

Harri (2100 days ago) Report Comment

hi akilah,
u sound so depressed in ur 'food poisnin' blog, U dnt need to be. Firstly u r fyn, that goes withouyt sayin, secondly, think abt it this way as lucky as u r to be workin for these ppl, they're lucky to have u. keep ur spirit high sista. and if ur'e so bord, I'd come round keep u company any day, trus me.

p.s. say hi to ur mum for me.

Hussain (2100 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Akilah,
just seen you on tv and you were asking about subjects to write about.

Maybe i could be something to write about. I am a minority in a minority in a minority in the uk. Have experienced things you could even write a book about.

If you are interested to hear more about me and my life... let me know and send me a message. Nick

Nick (2100 days ago) Report Comment

Hi Akilah, I have been watching on Channel 4 and I think you are a great role model for people out there who are wanting to go into the same career path you are, you have drive and ambition and just wanted to wish you the best of luck for your future.

Alex (2100 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of AkilahHi everyone,

Thanks for all your wordsof support it really means alot to me. I didnt even get to watch it when it came on but i am glad you guys all caught it.

Katrina, i am so happy that you are doing so well and that I have inspired you to push further! Make sure you keep me updated!

If everyone had to pick just ONE goal for 2009, what would it be?


Akilah (2114 days ago) Report Comment

all i can say is well done.U must be so proud of urself ur doin wat so many other people want to do and ur doin a good job keep it up u do u be xxxxx

iyesha (2115 days ago) Report Comment

heya i watched u yesterday for the 1st time.. and i think its great what your trying to achieve and the ambitions you have. How are you getting on.x

jenna (2116 days ago) Report Comment

hi baby... im so proud of you! glad we started talkin again, we always find a way back 2 each other its weird, but boy.... u've come so far over da years!! holla wen u got time xx (miss big time journalist)!! lol

U know who.. xx (2117 days ago) Report Comment

like others before me, i saw you on tv also and jst thought you looked hot..newayz gd luck with the journalism and hope we meet someday..J

Jide (2117 days ago) Report Comment

Hi akilah, i just wanted to say that what you are doing is really good and you are a very determined person. I used to think what i was doing would take me forever but seeing you take on all these challenges and do all these new things has kinda pushed me in a really big way. You have shown me that it can be done and my determination has started rising again. Everything you said about living in like a hood is completely right because i used to live in basically the hood also which was kennington close to brixton but i wanted to move and get out so my mum moved us to croydon and i love it because its not so hectic. Currently i am a qualified nursery nurse and i am in college doing my level 3 and 4 in childcare and like you i am also 19 years of age. From watching all what you have done you have motivated me so much to keep at it and make even more of myself. Please keep doing what you are doing and i know this is a very long message but you deserved it and i thought i would just let you

Katrina (2117 days ago) Report Comment

hiya, i just watched u on tv n thought id check out this site.i really felt 4 u wen u had food poisonin but dnt let anything get u down cuz uv got the drive 2 carry u all the way n wish u the best x

Natalie (2117 days ago) Report Comment

i have justed watched you on channel 4 and you are great keep it up you can go so far in live i look up to people like you thanyou x

jemma (2117 days ago) Report Comment

I Am Watching Yuu On Tv Now Yuur THe Best One On There And Yuur Wiked/Cooll Hope Yuurr Work Experience Goes Well

Hannah (2117 days ago) Report Comment

Hello there Akilah.
Not sure if you are interested in writing about film, but I would like you you to write for our film website. I cannot pay you, but I can offer you experince in writing for a website, and also FREE passes to film festivals in your area. How does that sound to you ?

Alton Williams (2117 days ago) Report Comment

I just read your 'is black the new black' article. You've addressed a very current and true issue. The way you worte it really makes the reader think. I'm black and proud of my distinctive features and I think everyone, black, white etc should be proud of theirs to. We aren't supposed to be the same. Tanning and bleaching are not even worth it considering the risks.
But before I go off on a tangent I just want to say well done for writing such a good piece. No wonder you got an A! Well done :) x

Dani (2118 days ago) Report Comment

Picture of akilahThanks for the advice everyone! I am also glad to see i am not alone in the wanting to be a journalist boat too lol! I understand the answering phone senario also Casey - Amber, fortunately i actually have gotten some AMAZING work experience with The Voice and now RWD and i am working on more stiff so watch this space. Also, everyone keep me updated with what you are doing! xxxx

akilah (2130 days ago) Report Comment

Work experience is the key with journalism, as with most professions. I have also endured the work experience "answering the phone" scenario, you need to fight it. Chances to shine may be handed to you, but you can't rely on that, you have to engage initiative. You may have to upset a few personalities with pre-conceived perceptions of what work experience people should do, but that's their problem. You could always engage your own work experience - throw yourself out on the streets, find at least one story a day, and throw them at one publication. That will get you noticed. It will be hard, but that is journalism. In the words of Nike "just do it!".

Alex Flahive (2134 days ago) Report Comment

I found work experience very monotonous and really didn't help in bettering my skills. I am also a hopeful young journalist, who is currently studying Journalism at the University of East London, and I am in my second year! I went for a work experience placement last year, and found myself filing and answering telephones! It was such a bore. I haven't had the experience as yet, but I think that having work experience when you are in university really helps, because a journalist really needs as much experience that he or she can get. The more work you have under your belt, the more experienced you are. Although university helps TREMENDOUSLY within this process, work experience allows you to actually be amongst the working environment and to get you familiar with the territory. Really hope you get into LCF...that was my first choice and unfortunately I did not get in! :( Keep determined, I am going to try again in September! Keep us posted!!!

Casey-Amber (2137 days ago) Report Comment

I found my work experience very useful. I spent a week at a secondary school in the geography department and helped out with things there. I even got to do some of the fun things, like decorate the classroom walls with pupil's work, etc.
So all in all, I found it very useful and fun.

Jenny Dunning (2157 days ago) Report Comment

Was the local magazine a music one anyway? You have to be careful with smaller magazines, they can sometimes use you as cheap labour, but at least you still have some work experience on your CV. If it wasn't musically based, you should try focusing on ones that are more so and more widely as well. Don't be disheartened by one bad experience, all work experience is good experience in journalism. And sometimes you have to start from the bottom anyway. I'd be quite happy to go into a placement making the tea!

Im going to be sorting out my work experience in January, I've been a bit preoccupied with Uni and other things, including Year Dot this semester. But I'm going to try and make some contacts and see how I can make my work experience application really stand out and hopefully meet even more people who can help me out. I already have a paid article that I'm doing for an International Students Magazine that I'll be working on over the holidays as well, so looking forward to th

Chris Will Clark (2164 days ago) Report Comment

I wanted to be a music journalist, so I went for work experience with a local magazine. It was so boring, I ended up filing bad debters for two weeks.

ben (2165 days ago) Report Comment