Meet Ria Hebden, TV presenter, broadcaster, Founder of Wonder Women TV and Carpe Diem Media Productions
Tide member Ria Hebden is a familiar face on British television. Originally from Yorkshire and now based in London, Ria is a multi-talented broadcaster, interviewer and presenter with her own production company.
We found a slot in her busy schedule to find out how she’s achieved her interesting and varied career, and how she’s passing on her experience via Wonder Women TV.
Hello Ria 👋 We’ve just seen you on Lorraine giving the nation your tips on what to watch this weekend. Tell us more about what you do.
Hello! Well, I’m the Entertainment presenter on ITV’s Lorraine and most recently, I presented All Around Britain with Alex Beresford on ITV. I’m passionate about telling stories that celebrate diversity, champion women and inspire the next generation – I’m lucky to be able to do this in the shows I work on. I also present live TV awards, broadcast on the radio and appear on panel shows including Strictly It Takes Two.
As well as appearing in front of the camera, I run an indie production company, Carpe Diem Media Productions, which I set up in 2016. And I’m the founder of Wonder Women TV, an inspirational women’s network that champions phenomenal women who work in television and the creative industries. We celebrate a diverse range of trailblazing women who are leading the way in film, tech, music and television.
Wow! I have so many questions – let’s start at the beginning. What motivated you to go self-employed?
I started out working in TV production. The nature of the TV industry means there are often gaps between jobs and I wanted a more stable way of life.
I was good at writing so I worked as a publicist for Channel 4, Disney and Discovery. As a stable job, it ticked all the boxes, and I enjoyed writing press kits for TV shows and film premiers. But I quickly realised I was on the wrong side of what I really wanted to do!
I’ve always been a creative person buzzing with ideas so I knew I needed to use that energy and focus to help myself. At the time, I was working as the live entertainment publicity manager for EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] at Disney so I thought, ‘I write five-year strategies for Disney’s franchises, I should write a strategy for myself!’ So that’s what I did. I wrote down a strategy of how to establish myself as a TV presenter and the rest, as they say, is history!
😂That’s an amazing story. And clearly your strategy worked! What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love the buzz of live TV – you have to, it’s total adrenaline. And I love working with such creative people. I share my enthusiasm for live TV by giving everyone around me lots of positive feedback – I couldn’t do it without them.
And with my work on Wonder Women TV, I’d love to think that our mentees and the women who listen to our podcasts and watch our videos will become successful role models themselves, and pay it forward to the next generation.
⏩ Read more about Wonder Women:
Tide blog | Tide sponsors Wonder Women
In broadcasting, whose work do you admire?
Oh there are so many… I have to say Lorraine! She’s a great role model for women in broadcasting and for also showing people that older women can have long-running, successful careers. It’s so important that we see older women in positions of power on-screen and in business.
Lorraine inspires me in so many ways. For example, to have many projects running simultaneously. As the pandemic has taught us, in some industries you need to have multiple streams of revenue in case one job dries up.
I filmed Wonder Women TV when I was seven months pregnant and I was very inspired by TV presenter, Davina McCall. When we worked together on Big Brother, she’d rock up with her kids and nanny. She showed me you can do the most amazing job – with your kids in tow! She’s a true trail-blazer.
You now have two children – how do you balance your work with caring for your family in lockdown? Do you have any tips?
I think it depends on the ages of your children. How old they are impacts on the challenges of caring for your family.
I have a three and an eleven year-old, so they’re at very different life stages! Thankfully, my daughter can attend nursery. It’s a lifesaver because it makes it easier for me to work from home.
My son is older so he’s more disciplined and thrives by having structure. Surprisingly, he’s taken to homeschooling much better this time around. My husband has been a fantastic support throughout, taking him out on his scooter if I have a work call or need to broadcast live from my living room on national TV! And we’ve found that what works is taking lots of breaks, getting organised the night before and rewarding him with little treats for producing good work. That’s really created harmony in our home.
🔉 Listen to Ria interviewing Jo Malone CBE, Founder & Creative Director of Jo Loves on the Wonder Women podcast
What’s one thing you wish people knew about what you do?
That I’m doing it all independently – I’m freelance!
At the moment, due to Covid-restrictions, I’m having to broadcast from home. I live only 10 minutes from the studio where Lorraine is broadcast from but throughout lockdown, I’ve done my own hair, make-up, lighting and sound which adds to the pressure. But it’s shown me how adaptable and resilient I’ve become.
I was going to ask you how coronavirus has affected your work…
Yep, we’ve all learned to adapt! I’ve turned my spare room into a studio and I’ve been able to host my live awards events virtually. People say, ‘wow, I didn’t realise you’re broadcasting from home!’
Let’s forget about COVID for a moment. What would be your dream job?
It’s top secret – I’m not telling!
Ohhhh 😳 Can you give us a clue…?
Well… it’s very glamorous and on mainstream TV…
Aha! Interesting… 🤔🤐
Do you have a mentor or someone who helps you with business decisions?
Yes! I have an amazing mentor: Dawn McCarthy Simpson. She’s got over 20 years’ experience of working in the industry and has great ideas and strategic vision. She’s currently the Managing Director of Global Strategy for Pact (the trade association that represents independent media companies).
Initially, we’d meet once a month and talk through my goals and then as our relationship has grown, it’s become more relaxed. She makes great suggestions. For example, in 2018, she suggested I go to MIPCOM in Cannes. It’s a trade show where all the TV execs in the world go, not just the ones in London!
It sounded a bit daunting but I was keen to go. Dawn connected me to some people and not only did I go but I got booked to take part!
I hosted an awards show, the Diversify TV Excellence Awards where I interviewed international nominees on stage all while hosting the event. I got to show a range of skills to all these high-flying TV people that led to me making more connections! It was an incredible opportunity.
Dawn has taught me to think globally. Her support has taught me how good mentors can really elevate you in ways you can’t imagine.
What a brilliant mentor. How did you meet Dawn?
I found and messaged her on LinkedIn. I read an article that featured her so I approached her on the basis of that. She was excited to help me because she could see my tenacity and passion for achieving my goals.
Some people might be nervous about approaching someone they don’t know on LinkedIn – but you’ve proved it can work!
Next I have a few questions about Tide.
Why did you choose us?
I read about Tide when I was looking for the best banks for small start-ups. Then I did more research and compared Tide to other banks. A big thing for me is that you can have a Tide business account with no monthly charge. That’s a really important feature for when you’re just starting out, as those extra costs can build up.
That’s exactly why our accounts start from free. And then as your business grows and you need more from your account, you can upgrade. What’s your favourite Tide feature?
I love the receipt uploader. We’re all so busy these days – tools like this really help. I just do my receipts as I’m going along, then it’s done. Actually, I must talk to my accountant about integrating my Tide account with their accounting software…
Good plan! What’s your top tip for people thinking about starting a freelance career in TV?
Get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.Make connections in the industry. These days, I’m often approached but I’m always proactive in talking to people about shows I’d like to work on. I’d encourage you to connect with local networks and larger organisations like BAFTA, the Royal Television Society, Women in Film and TV, and Wonder Women TV. Follow them online, go to events, listen to panel discussions. You’ll find out who the movers and shakers are and where the opportunities and challenges lie.
And I’d also like to say: think carefully about the lifestyle you want. When you find out what’s involved in running your own business, there are pros and cons. I’d recommend talking to other freelancers to help you work out if this is the right lifestyle for you.
Great advice, thank you Ria! And thanks for talking to us. We wish you lots of luck and look forward to hearing more from you 💙
⏩ Read more about Wonder Women:
Tide blog | Tide sponsors Wonder Women
Connect with Ria
- Visit Ria’s website: www.riahebden.com
- Visit the Wonder Women TV website: www.wonderwomentv.com
- Follow Ria on Instagram: @riahebden
- Subscribe to Ria’s YouTube channel
- Connect with Ria on LinkedIn
Have your say
Are you a Tide member? We’re keen to hear from you about how you started your business. Get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com or get in touch with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. and tell us about what you do.
All photos courtesy of Ria Hebden