Be Natural

I don’t think I appreciated just how hard it would be to work on an English-speaking broadcast until I had the opportunity to do it for myself.

I had always been amongst the best at languages in school, even when I picked up an English degree in college, it seemed rather easy. Of course, once you’re standing in front of a live camera and have to think on your feet in a language that isn’t your mother tongue, it gets a lot harder.

The Deman and Joe Miller era of the EU LCS broadcast provided me with my very first introduction to esports. I remember the moment I first saw Sjokz doing her interviews, I knew straight away that this is what I wanted to do.

There wasn’t the same level of pressure when I worked in Paris. I joined O’Gaming with the EU LCS broadcast in my sights, ready to experience everything that lay ahead. After trying to become a shoutcaster – which, to be honest, didn’t work at all – I steered myself towards becoming a stage host and an interviewer.

The 2017 EU LCS Summer Final in Paris was the first time I had been challenged with hosting a broadcast in both French and English; it felt great that Riot’s production team trusted me to do it.

After all the positive feedback I’d got after the finals, I decided to message the producer directly to let him know that I was available and what I could bring to the league broadcast. I thought that, since they like me in Paris, maybe they would like to have a dedicated interviewer for the regular split as well. They really loved the idea and the producer put me in touch with Quickshot, who also shared that enthusiasm, and we went from there.

I saw my chance to become a part of the EU LCS broadcast and I took it.

Whilst I was working in France, I received my fair share of criticism. The truth is that I didn’t care one bit, people would insult me and I would just brush it off; I was working towards something bigger and I knew that within a few years I’d have proven the critics wrong.

When I learned that I would be a part of the EU LCS broadcast for the 2018 Spring Split, I felt that I’d finally achieved what I’d been aiming for. I had built up my experience with O’Gaming, developing a comfortable style on stage and on camera that I was ready to bring with me to Berlin. Maybe naively, I thought people would know me – know the hard work I’d put in with O’Gaming… but they didn’t, I was going to have to prove myself all over again.

I vividly remember my first on-stage interview with Djoko and the community feedback that came with it. I’d prepared for that interview as if it was an exam. In truth, I was overly prepared – I’d rehearsed my segments countless times, all of my cue cards contained detailed notes on how to stand, things to bounce back on etc – I’d gone into so much detail, in the end, I forgot how to act natural.

It was my first interview on the broadcast – a moment I’d been waiting for for so long – but as soon as I asked my first question I realized just how stressed I was and it overwhelmed me. I was analyzing every word: “I shouldn’t be saying this that way… I shouldn’t be standing like this…”, I felt really conscious of every mistake I was making and it made everything worse; my hands were shaking and I stumbled on nearly every word.

I knew that the French esports community would be watching. It was like my family was going to see me on stage, but also the people who had doubted I’d get here… it wasn’t the time to make any mistakes.

 

I knew it hadn’t gone well but I was very fortunate that the people around me were really supportive. Djoko, who was doing his first interview of the year, was very reassuring and then, as I went backstage, I ran into Quickshot. One of the best parts about working with Riot is that, even if you make a mistake or do something wrong, everyone here is going to be pushing for you to do well, especially Quickshot.

I think it’s one of the things I’ve been most thankful for throughout this journey, everybody I’ve met and have worked with in this industry is really hoping for you to express yourself in the best possible way and are willing to do whatever they can to help you achieve that.

It was during the time I spent away from that environment that I let myself get ‘hardstuck’ on what other people thought of me.

I went home worried that I would get a call asking me not to come back to Berlin. I came back to Paris after my first broadcast and I remember that all I could think about, all I could talk about with my boyfriend was how: “they’re not gonna call me back again, they’ll never hire me again after that interview, I’ve ruined everything…”

I saw the very first pieces of feedback from the audience and I took it really badly – it seemed to me that people were more aggressive with their comments in English than they had been in French. In particular, I took any comments about my accent very badly.

My French accent has never been an issue when speaking English, I’ve always felt I was understandable and yet it stood out as a recurring theme of criticism – it made me doubt myself.

Similarly, I started to see the phrase ‘blackout’ a lot, to my understanding, it’s when people think I’m searching for a word mid-sentence. I knew I could improve in both of these areas, but at the time, I felt like the community wasn’t willing to give me a chance.

I know I have a tendency to focus on the negatives rather than the positives and it’s something I’m working on. I think a big part of it is just the frustration of knowing what I’m capable of delivering.

After that first thread, I had a long talk with Romain Bigeard. Romain is a good friend, even from America, he keeps tabs on Reddit and Twitter for comments about me and gives me his honest feedback. He helped to refocus me after that first week: ‘just chill, it’s mostly good comments, people are waiting for you to improve.’

Two days after the interview with Djoko, I had a call with Quickshot, who, alongside Sjokz, was also really supportive. He explained to me that I was stressing myself out and that the most important thing was for me to be natural. Throughout my career, my ability to covert stress into strength has been really important and that would prove to be true when I returned to Berlin two weeks later with a clear mind.

With two weeks to reflect, I realised it was going to take time for fans to accept me as a part of the EU LCS broadcast; above all, I just needed to be natural and show the real me.

It’s the best piece of advice I’ve received since joining the EU LCS broadcast team: ‘just be yourself.’ With that in mind, I’m never going to ditch my French accent. It’s one of the things we should be proud of in EU; we all come from different places but have come together because of a mutual passion.

For now, I’m preparing to get back to work starting the opening week of the EU LCS Summer Split; I have a better understanding now of what my strengths are and what I’m capable of.

It’s my job to bring out the best from EU’s talented players and make them feel comfortable to talk after big moments. The ultimate goal as an interviewer – as Sjokz said after MSI – is to be able to connect fans with their favourite players and allow them to share in their moment of victory.

The Spring Split was the discovery of a new challenge for me and with so much support around me, I’m more motivated than ever to succeed this summer.

Image Credit: Riot Games 

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