Fee Mak started her career as a child star in West End musicals like Billy Elliott and the Royal Ballet. When it came to choosing a university course, however, she set her sights on a business degree.
At Kent, where she studied BA Business Administration and French, she developed not only a head for success but a career in Radio. Now Fee has worked at Radio 1 and is thrilled with her current role at 1Xtra. We caught up with her to find out more about her rise to airwaves fame.
‘Musicality has followed me,’ says Fee, who grew up in East London. ‘I did a lot of dance as a kid: ballet, tap, jazz – all kinds. I had a professional career but I didn’t really know it was, it just felt like fun.’
While friends and family supposed Fee would cut her teeth in dance or drama after her time with Deborah Day Theatre School Trust she surprised everyone by opting for a business degree, alongside French, at Kent.
‘I chose business because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. Business is everything right – it’s everywhere,’ she says.
‘I also loved the Canterbury Campus. It was a world away from the inner city life of East London, but still had a lot going on with a city nearby. I was impressed that I could study Business and French together and take a Year Abroad to study.’
While Fee was really excited to start university, like many students in their first year she found herself struggling with loneliness.
‘I can be shy, University was a new experience and moving away from home, not knowing that many people, was kind of tough. Come second year, I had like a lightbulb moment – my uni experience is down to me so I decided I was just going to get on with it!’
Fee started to grab all the extracurricular opportunities she could, not least of all the University radio station with a show she herself launched and produced.
‘I met a lot of artists on campus, Canterbury felt like a real hub for music. I wanted to make a platform to showcase their work, so I did it. It wasn’t the biggest platform, but it was lots of fun. That year I was scouted by Westside radio, a community station back in London.’
When it came to her studies, Fee enjoyed learning about the operational side of business but also psychology and HR topics. Her Year Abroad, taken in Switzerland, was transformative.
‘It was a good experience, and it was so different, like having every single lesson in French. I just learned how to be really independent, which was nice. It was definitely a tough year, but I learned so much about myself. I’m so glad I did it!’
Returning to university before graduating in the grandeur of Canterbury Cathedral she’d grown as a person and began applications for her dream roles in radio.
‘I was like, hey if they reject me, do you know what? Who cares. For Radio 1, it was a quick studio session. You just pretend like you’re on radio and then they called me back to do two live shows. I found it hard, no lie, it was so different to community radio. But I got the job!’
In 2019 Fee was given a one month residency on BBC Radio 1 on an early morning show for two years before she landed her Sunday stint at Radio 1Xtra, last year.
‘It’s sort of full circle back to what I did at Kent – promote artists who are still up and coming but who have a lot of talent,’ she explains. ‘I also get to meet my idols as I live report from things like the MOBO Awards. I met Akon recently, which was random, but he was so nice! I also get to do really different stuff – like appearing on quiz show Pointless, which airs soon!’
Fee is looking to a future where she gives back to the community, hoping to collaborate with charities to help young people interested in music and media. She maintains that her degree and lessons in Business still play a part in her life.
‘I use my degree all the time – I did my tax return last month and all my lessons came flooding back to me!’ she laughs. ‘Even the simple stuff like meetings and group work, it all started at uni with me. Being able to budget is still tricky as a freelancer, but I learnt the best ways by studying business, us creatives still need all these things.’