An image of Derin Adetosoye alongside the Formula E talent call trophy.

Derin Adetosoye: How to Become a Racing Presenter

Formula E Talent Call winner and presenter Derin Adetosoye talked us through her involvement in motorsport and how any aspiring presenter can improve their chances in the esports racing scene.

Image credit: Formula E

During any broadcasted event, there are more people on screen than just the players. There can be the likes of former pros chosen to be on the broadcast team for their insight and expertise, and commentators/casters who have trained in the field to provide as articulate a description of the event as possible.

But there’s a third group of people whose work often goes unappreciated, and those are the presenters. They are the people whose job it is to keep the conversation moving and heading in the right direction. Some examples of dedicated presenters in the world of esports racing include Tom Deacon (F1 Esports), Julia Hardy (Gran Turismo World Series) and the person we had the pleasure of speaking to, Formula E’s Derin Adetosoye.

Dream Come True

Adetosoye entered into the Formula E Talent Call competition in 2020. Out of 800 entries, she was selected to join the broadcast team alongside the likes of Vernon Kay, Nicki Shields, Dario Franchitti and Jack Nicholls. As well as covering real life Formula E, she was also part of the team for their esports series, Formula E: Accelerate.

The series had a six race run in 2021 and this year it had a single onsite final alongside the London ePrix at the ExCeL. Both times, the event was won by Red Bull F1 Esports driver Frede Rasmussen. On all of the broadcasts, Derin provided a lively and enthusiastic presenting style which really made the people watching feel like they were experiencing the event through her.

Dedicated presenting in the world of esports and racing is a highly sought after role. But what are the skills one would need to develop if they wanted to become a presenter?

We asked Derin if she would be willing to tell us about how she got involved in Formula E and what are some things every aspiring presenter should know. She kindly accepted!

OverTake: What was your background in racing and esports before becoming presenter for FE Accelerate?

Derin Adetosoye:

So I was introduced to the brilliant world of racing through my father when I was a young girl, I first watched a Formula One race with him and my brother at probably seven years old. Just found it to be such an exciting and cool sport that I couldn’t get over or wrap my head around! I tried watching other sports and I never felt like I could connect with it, but with racing I just found it incredibly impressive, exciting and thrilling. That was my introduction to racing.

The last few years, that has been heightened by of course working in the industry which has been such a dream.

In terms of esports, that has been a complete new world for me that I have absolutely loved exploring over the last few years. When I started at Formula E, working on Accelerate was my first role in the job, the first project I got to work on. In 2020 when the season was suspended due to COVID, they did the Race At Home Challenge which then became Accelerate and in that time, sim racing was introduced to so many people.

I’m so grateful to have had that experience because it introduced me to this world of esports that I find so fascinating. Getting to know the drivers and how hard, determined and driven they all are and how much time and effort goes into perfecting their craft, I just find it so inspiring. I’ve really enjoyed my journey into esports, especially Accelerate London where we went from our tight COVID bubbles doing interviews over the internet to then being in-person with all the drivers, it felt like I already knew and felt comfortable in that scenario. I am absolutely hooked now! I cannot wait to explore other avenues in that space moving forward.

OverTake: How did you get the role of Formula E presenter and what has been your highlight?

Derin Adetosoye:

I got my role through winning the Open Talent Call for presenters, which was them essentially looking for a new, younger presenter to join the line-up. I discovered the competition just after graduating university, I had sat down and thought “What is it that I want to do?”. Prior to starting my role in presenting, I was making content on YouTube for the past five or six years so I was comfortable in front of the camera, I love making vlogs so I thought that maybe this was an avenue I could explore. Not just on YouTube but on a larger scale like presenting.

When I had that realisation, I actually applied to study a Masters in broadcast journalism at City University which I thought would be a brilliant avenue to getting me into the industry. When I applied for it, I was accepted but the course was oversubscribed for that year so I ended up getting a place for the year after. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my time, I knew I definitely wanted to work within the industry but I just didn’t know how I was going to go about it.

Then came in the Formula E Talent Call which I discovered in the middle of lockdown, sat on my sofa at home scrolling away on my phone and I was like “this looks absolutely amazing! It’s an opportunity I 100% want to grab” since I knew what an incredible of a role it was.

I sent off my 60 second video and just hoped for the best but then a few weeks had passed and I saw an email saying I had been shortlisted into the final 15 which then became final four. We went to Valencia for the testing where we did some presenting in real life, received some media training, interview drivers to get a feeling for the world of Formula E which I just fell in love with.

From the final four, I remember thinking that being there was winning itself because of the amazing opportunity, so when I got told I had won, I was just so so excited!  The Talent Call combined my interests in presenting and motorsport. I’m so grateful to Formula E for launching it, really changed my life.

Every time I attend an event, I always find a new highlight! It’s such a cool world to be in and to work with such inspiring individuals. We get to build relationships with the teams and the drivers, thus all the conversations and experiences I have are all just so special. So it’s hard only picking one.

OverTake: What do you personally believe are both the challenges and the skills needed for being a presenter?

Derin Adetosoye:

I would say that probably one of the biggest skills that I have learnt over the last year and a half in the role is knowing the importance of who you are and what you bring to the table and the value you have as an individual. We all have our own unique qualities that make us who we are.

When you know them, you can contribute them to the show, to the dynamic you have with the others on the broadcasting team as you work to illustrate to the viewers what’s going on. For example, when I do the pit lane preview show, I work with Saunders Carmichael-Brown and he’s brilliant with the tech side or sustainability for example – so we like to draw on that whenever we have conversations since those are some of his areas of expertise.

Definitely need confidence too, you need to believe in yourself, that you can get through any challenges on the fly. Need to be great in a team as well, would put a lot of importance on that as you always work with so many different people in presenting. Everyone from the producers, camera operators, editors, co-hosts, directors, the list goes on! As cheesy as it sounds, team work makes the dream work. You’re all relying on each other to keep everything moving in the right direction, so it helps to forge those strong relationships with everyone you work with. Always makes a difference in the overall product and outcome. If you enjoy the process, it shows in the final product.

From left to right: Lewis McGlade, Jack Nichols, Jake Dennis and Derin Adetosoye in front of a Gen 2 Formula E car.
Adetosoye (far right) with sim racing commentator Lewis McGlade (far left), Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls (middle left) and Formula E driver Jake Dennis (middle right) at the ExCeL for FE: Accelerate. Image credit: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

In terms of the challenges, It can be easy sometimes to find yourself having doubts, imposter syndrome has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced when I started. Specifically in motorsports which is notoriously a majority male industry, so coming in as a woman, it’s easy to feel like I didn’t belong, but it’s been amazing to see how much the space is changing with more women in motorsports and more representation. 

But it’s all about believing that you belong, know what your strengths are and not being scared to share what they are. If you are in meetings and working on a project, it’s important have that confidence to suggest an idea, know that you are worthy and valued enough to be there and have what you say be respected.

Ultimately, you are the main focus point who steers the ship when you’re a presenter. The audience sees the event through you and you’re bringing the best out of everyone on the screen, so if you can relate to the audience, it goes a long way.

OverTake: We see many commentators double up as presenters. What do you think presenters who solely focus on hosting can bring that someone who does both the hosting and commentating roles can’t? 

Derin Adetosoye:

I would say that from what I know of commentary, I only ever dabbled in it once in my lifetime during Free Practice with Jack Nicholls and Saunders. With commentary you really have to just say what you see, that’s the principle they’re following and not to downplay its difficulty, it’s not easy to commentate. But with presenting, you are saying what you see but you also are analysing, interviewing, questioning and following up from that, you need to provide that understanding to the viewer watching it at home.

It’s a completely different ball game so what I’d say presenters bring on that front is that you’re conveying the message to the audience and helping them understand as well as bringing out the best in the people on screen with you and steering the narrative. I do find it fascinating, the people who have it in them to do both commentating and presenting, they’re absolute powerhouses!

OverTake: What would you want every aspiring presenter to know that would improve their chances of getting work?

Derin Adetosoye:

Say yes to every experience and opportunity you get to be in front of the camera, work with the teams and build up your portfolio and showreel. When you think of advice, everyone normally says things like “networking” and “get on LinkedIn”, also to keep messaging people. When you do those things which I do 100% encourage, you need to have the work to back up whatever you’re saying like the showreel that people can watch.

So just try to get as much experience as possible, it may not always be aligned with whatever it is you want to be doing. But experience is experience, it’s so invaluable and it’s the only way to be able to learn and grow in your role as a presenter and within yourself in regards to confidence. Say yes to as many offers as possible, more work often results in more work, keep networking and forge connections with those people in case another job opportunity comes up.

You never know when conversations are being had about a really exciting opportunity and if someone is aware of you even from something you weren’t enthusiastic about but did anyway, doing it could be the difference between not landing your dream role or doing so! They’ll bring up your name and just like that, your life could change.

OverTake: If people ever wanted to reach out to you for advice, where can they find you?

Derin Adetosoye:

If anyone would like to find me, I’m very active on Instagram and you can watch my vlogs on YouTube, I have a few documenting Formula E race weekends and travelling with them. For aspiring presenters who wants to work within racing, please feel free to DM me on my Instagram and we can have a conversation and hopefully I can provide you with some advice.

I’m very approachable, if you see me at a Formula E race then you can come up and say “Hey!” and hopefully there is time to chat. I care a lot and am passionate about helping people on their journeys, everybody is capable of achieving their dreams.

Would you want to work as a presenter in racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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