‘I just crumbled’ Loose Womens Charlene White opens up on breaking down during new show
Charlene White admits she 'crumbled' after resonating with poem
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The Loose Women panellist and ITV Newsreader took part in a documentary entitled, Charlene White: Empire’s Child, which saw her explore her Jamaican heritage and how the legacy of the British Empire shaped her family’s history.
Commissioned as part of ITV’s celebration of Black History Month in October, the emotional documentary saw Charlene travel to Jamaica to find out more about her family’s roots.
Discussing the making of the documentary on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast, Charlene said she was surprised at how emotional she found the experience.
Linking to Charlene’s background as a journalist, Kate asked her how she felt about “becoming the story”.
Charlene said that when she travelled to Jamaica “everything shifted” and her “journalist shackles” left her.
She explained: “Something just took hold of me.
“There was something about being there, something about getting off that plane, breathing that air, that warm wall of air you walk into as you get off the plane, that just suddenly hit me.
“Being there in the place of my parents’ birth and my grandparents’ birth, it suddenly became very personal.”
Charlene recalled a particular moment that didn’t make it into the documentary where she read a poem by Jamaican author, Claude McKay.
The poem is about Claude leaving the same area Charlene’s family originated from during the Harlem Renaissance.
Charlene expanded: “It is about leaving home but never actually leaving your heart and that there is always going to be a connection.”
During filming, Charlene climbed a mountain with a genealogist and read the poem again.
Charlene continued: “The genealogist had given me all this information and then handed me the book, opened it to this page and got me to read [the poem].
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“I got to the end of it and just crumbled.
“Suddenly I realised that this poem is about me, it’s about anybody that has left their birth place and moved elsewhere and how you will always feel a connection whether you want to or not.”
She says “it all made sense” because she is “forever connected” to Jamaica.
Charlene’s family came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation.
She was born in South London in 1980.
In the documentary, Charlene discovered one of her ancestors was a slave owner and even enlisted his own children as slaves.
She also traced her four-times great grandparents and discovered that they were among the first Jamaicans freed from slavery in 1834 when it was abolished.
The documentary received a positive reaction from fans, with many taking to social media to praise Charlene.
Author Sathnam Sanghera tweeted: “Powerful TV with Charlene White just now. Great to see these programmes finally being made, amazing it has taken so long.”
Singer Beverley Knight wrote: “My god this is so powerful. Charlene Whitethank you so much for delivering a first class and important documentary on what it means to be one of the British Empire’s child.”
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