STATE OF GRACE: "I am looking forward to developing a whole other side of myself," reveals Clarke-Cooper.
Jamaicans have come to associate media icon Simone Clarke-Cooper with her signature mix of sparkle, intelligence and skilful journalism through her long career in radio (FAME FM) and television (TV J). But these days the devoted wife and first-time mom is intent on fashioning a path in the corporate world with her exciting new post at GraceKennedy. After all, Clarke-Cooper, like so many others, understands what can be had by trusting your instincts and spreading your wings. She talked to TALLAWAH about making one of the toughest decisions of her life, how her young daughter lights up her life, and what she’s been learning as a wife and mom.
TALLAWAH: News of your leaving FAME FM has come as a big surprise to the many that have come to associate you with your decade-long work at the station and the wider RJR Group. What led to your departure, and how do you feel about the change?
Clarke-Cooper: I was at FAME for fourteen years. Fourteen fantastic years. But everybody gets to a point where they have to self-assess and make decisions as to what's next. I have a daughter now, and she needs more of my time. Media can become your entire life, and I didn't want to cheat her of the time she needs. And I really just felt it was the right time in my life for a change. A broadening of my horizons, if you will. It was an extremely tough decision, and I struggled with it. But ultimately it was the right decision. I miss radio terribly. I miss the family I made there more. But I am very happy I still get to do television, which is where I started out in the first place.
TALLAWAH: Glancing back at your long relationship with radio, TV and the Jamaican media, what are you most proud of?
Clarke-Cooper: My growth, staying true to myself, and the relationship I have with the listening and viewing public. Everyday I have discussions with people I don't know, as if we're long-time friends. I pride myself on having kept it real, and I think that is something that makes people feel they really know me. I consider the relationship I have with those who watch and listen to be an incredible blessing. And when I look back from the days of Rappin, and where I am now, I really believe I have grown as a broadcaster. I am very proud of that.
TALLAWAH: What's your major focus right now? What's on your plate professionally?
Clarke-Cooper: In a bid to broaden my horizons, I have stepped into the world of "corporate Jamaica". I am now the Corporate Communications Manager at GraceKennedy. I've been there for all of three weeks now, and I am trying to soak up all I can as I learn the ropes. I still do Smile Jamaica on TVJ, and I also try to do as much teaching and training as I can as that is an area which I also enjoy very much.
TALLAWAH: Tell me about the joys and demands of motherhood, and how you've been rising to meet the challenges.
Clarke-Cooper: Motherhood is a trip. I absolutely love it. My daughter is the centre of my world. It's difficult to keep up with her because she has a lot of energy. And as a working mother, sometimes energy is something you have to dig deep to find. The mid-morning feedings are tough. My fervent hope is that she starts sleeping through the nights soon. But I think, if I do say so myself, that I am doing a good job. I have to. I lover her too much to fail her.
TALLAWAH: How would you describe your beloved Arif as a father?
Clarke-Cooper: He is fantastic! He's so good with her. He actually taught me a lot, as he has two sons. Things like which cry means what, and whether it's a cry with tears or one without and which to take more seriously, and how not to spoil her and ...the list goes on. He is patient with her. Up until recently she was a "Daddy's girl," but now she cries for her Mommy. Sorry, Arif. Seriously though, he is an excellent father. I'm really happy he's her dad. I'm trying not to get too jealous of her everyday "da-da, da-da" ramblings. Guess "ma-ma" will come in time. And yes, Arif, she's still a daddy's girl.
TALLAWAH: What's inspiring Simone right now?
Clarke-Cooper: Aaryn, my daughter, is my inspiration right now. Everything I do is for her or with her in mind. It's amazing, but your life really isn't about you anymore when you have a child. I'd love to be inspired by movies and other things but I don't have the time to be. I still try to get in some of my favourite shows on TV, rarely. But when I do, it's great.
TALLAWAH: Is there a principle that guides your life and everyday choices?
Clarke-Cooper: Trust and faith in God, who has been so good to me, honesty, truth, integrity. Those guide all my decisions and actions with whomever I deal – from work to home. I find you don't usually go wrong if your life is guided by those values.
TALLAWAH: What are you most looking forward to in this new, post-FAME phase of your life?
Clarke-Cooper: I am looking forward to spending more time with my family now that all my days and holidays aren't taken up with media. I am looking forward to learning new things and developing and feeding a whole other side of myself. And I am looking forward to watching my daughter grow, and being able to provide for her as she does so. In general, I am looking out for, and looking forward, to all the things life has in store. My journey continues.