PRIME TIME: "I know I have a very long way ahead, but I’m committed," shares the 32-year-old go-getter and talk-show host.
With her star increasingly on the rise and Season 4 of her hit talk show on the way, Saudicka Diaram sits down with TALLAWAH to dish about the work she’s most passionate about, lessons from her journey, and the soon-to-arrive baby boy that’s already the love of her life.
IT'S a seasonably warm August afternoon in the city, and the early lunch crowd is settling into their seats inside Liguanea’s airy Café Blue. Saudicka Diaram saunters over to TALLAWAH’s corner table with a view, and takes the available chair. She offers an apology for her mild tardiness but all is quickly forgiven. She’s late with good reason. Her increasingly popular gabfest, The Saudicka Diaram Show, is now gracing living rooms in the US Tri-State area, thanks to her partners at CIN-TV, with whom she just wrapped a meeting to secure screen time for the latest and forthcoming seasons.
Yes, the Saudicka Diaram brand – newly fortified at home – is now warming up overseas. And that’s exactly how the lady likes it. “It’s unbelievable, looking back. A year ago I was so timid. But as you grow you realize that you have to push on and go after what you want. I wouldn’t change a thing on the journey,” admits the award-winning journalist and glowing mom-to-be (more on that later), casting a keen eye around the room as our conversation touches on ambition, career goals and getting people to buy into your vision.
To wit, this talk show host knows all about the back-and-forth where that is concerned. “A lot of people were skeptical when I first approached them with the idea, and I think that is because Jamaica doesn’t have a culture of talk shows. But when Season One started and they saw the range of topics that we touch on and the quality of the package, they got it,” she recalls. “With TV, you have to be mindful of a lot of things, not just your viewers and what they want to see but what sponsors will be willing to invest their money in.”
When it comes to getting Jamaicans to invest their time by tuning in to watch her show and provide feedback, that’s perhaps been the easiest part of the equation so far for Saudicka. In fact, they come up to her everywhere, from concerts and other events to encounters on the street, to congratulate her. “The demographic is so wide, and that’s because the show appeals across the board. The calibre is there, and they respond to it,” she says.
What’s more, for a rookie talk show host now heading into her fourth season, Saudicka was very fortunate to land a coveted prime-time slot in time for Season 2: Friday nights at nine immediately after The Entertainment Report. “TV-J was very welcoming,” she tells us. “I didn’t have any problems there. They suggested the move to prime time for a bigger audience.”
LIFE AFTER CVM
From as far back as she can remember, Saudicka Diaram has always wanted to work in the media. So no one who knew her well was surprised when, fresh out of high school, she enrolled at UWI’s Carimac School to begin her training. Seven years at CVM-TV followed – a period during which she conceived and presented D’Wrap, a half-hour entertainment and lifestyle slot that not only grew in popularity but also won her an ardent following, a PAJ Award for Best Entertainment Journalist and the respect of industry colleagues. But, eager to grow as a media professional and spread her wings, Saudicka decided the time had come for a new chapter in her career and a change of scenery.
“It was a great learning experience for me. No regrets. D’Wrap gave me a platform to do the kind of stories I wanted to do,” says Diaram, who also snagged a PAJ trophy for her coverage of the Buju Banton Trial in Florida. “Because of CVM I was able to get people to take a look at who Saudicka is. But contract-wise, I had to move away from it. I wanted to explore more.”
Years later, she remains resolute that she made the right decision and did what was best for her and her career. “It was a hard decision but it had to be made,” she says. Efforts by TALLAWAH to get a comment from CVM proved futile.
If you’ve seen Saudicka Diaram up close in recent weeks, the first things that catches your eye is her plump state of pregnancy. Rosy and endlessly glowing, motherhood seems to ’gree with her. And since you must know, it’s a boy in the oven, due for special delivery in November. “It wasn’t planned,” she says of the pregnancy, blushing. “But I welcome it and I look forward to the challenges ahead. I’m preparing to be a mother!” She lights up like a Christmas tree.
By her tone, it’s clear that Saudicka has found true bliss. And new responsibilities. “I want to be as prepared as I possibly can be. I am really looking forward to what this new phase has in store for me,” she confides.
Like any doting mother, her dreams for her son are limitless. “I want to be proud of him,” she says, “and I want him to be proud of his mommy.” And she’s fiercely protective (to the point of KFC-secret-recipe-type mumness) about the identity of her son’s father. “You wouldn’t even know him. He’s not a celebrity,” she shares coyly. But she does allow this: he’s an engineer with whom she’s been romantic for the past several years. And they are both the same age – 32.
At this point in her life, Saudicka Diaram has a lot to give thanks for and, by her own admission, constantly expressing gratitude ranks high among her priories – a list that includes planning for a future she envisions will be packed with more personal and professional triumphs and experiences that will further bolster her resolve to excel as a businesswoman and a media pro. And that means rolling with the punches. “As an entrepreneur, you learn so many lessons daily. It’s just a matter of being strong and being willing to persevere,” she concedes. “There are days when nothing is going right. No sponsors confirmed, no guests. And you have to just believe and give up your pride and do what you have to do.”
A GLOBAL OUTLOOK
Diaram, who lectures part-time at the University of Technology, sees her talk show reaching an enormous international audience one day. “I want it to be global. The conversations we have on the show are universal. Women can relate, men can relate,” she explains. “I know I have a very long way ahead, but I’m committed and I hope I can stick with it. I want my show to impact lives. I want it to be that show that people talk about because it offers solutions, insight and entertainment.”
For all her achievements and the level of respect she now commands, Diaram stays hungry. Complacency is clearly a pet peeve. “I’m just a girl who wants to be the best version of me. I want to be a good aunt, a good sister and, in a few months, hopefully a very good mother,” she tells TALLAWAH, with some seriousness in her voice. “I am an evolving person, so I always strive to be the best version of me.”