Life & Culture

Dame Joan’s life lesson: stay calm

In Jonathan Shalit's latest Window on the World column, he embraces the joys of post lockdown life


A warm glow of freedom and sense of returning normality light up the long June days after the gloom and monotony of Covid restrictions. My wife Katrina and I have resumed our semi-permanent state of residence at the River Café. Dining happily on a beautiful summer evening on sogliola al forno whole Dover Sole wood-roasted with marjoram and Amalfi lemon — it felt almost as though Covid had never happened.

As an entrepreneur, I’m an optimist. Optimism is a support system for me. It helps me go on when things seem bleak and to find the good hope in any given situation.

In many ways, the Roaring 20s was when the modern economy sprung to life. A hundred years later, as we emerge blinking into the daylight of the 2020s, I believe we will roar again as spirits soar and creativity is unleashed. I can already sense an incredible energy of renewal and a swirl of ideas all around me. Millions have become re-energised: the after-effects of the pandemic are a catalyst for exciting and life changing trends and innovations.

Advancement in technology has been extraordinary. The speedy development of multiple coronavirus vaccines is a spectacular achievement. Whilst in some areas of commerce there is devastation and a long way to recovery, elsewhere there are the beginnings of what will be Britain’s stunning V-shaped recovery.

At my company, InterTalent there is much excitement as my new co-director Ben Malka and MD, Alex Segal enter a $300 billion global industry with the launch of InterTalent Esports and Gaming. Our first partnership is already signed, with David Beckham’s Guild Esports. Opportunities for growth in these nascent industries are infinite.

My business partner, Alistair Goldsmith and I partnered with Premier League Champions Manchester City to launch a collection of celebratory inspired NFT Digital Art. There’s a new market for digital art among younger buyers. A 32-year entrepreneur just spent $69.3 million at Christie’s, purchasing a collage by US artist Beeple. It was the first purely digital work stored in a “non-fungible token” to be sold by a major auction house and shook the art world to its core.

For the next few weeks I am going to need two TV screens so I don’t miss our clients simultaneously presenting live on breakfast television. Susanna Reid is supported by Laura Tobin and Alex Beresford on Good Morning Britain, followed by Lorraine Kelly with her eponymous daily show. Eamonn Holmes co-presents This Morning over the summer. Then, during the Euros football tournament, Mark Wright will host Good Morning Euros on Sky Sports News.

From my cross trainer last Friday I felt great delight and pride as The Masked Dancer’s frog was revealed as film star and presenter Kelly Brook, a long-time client. Immediately afterwards Lorraine Kelly made a joyous debut on Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox with her fabulous lookalike daughter Rosie.

I was back at ITV for the socially distanced filming of Dame Joan Collins being interviewed by Piers Morgan to celebrate her 70 years in showbusiness. Dame Joan has made 76 films in one of Hollywood’s most enduring and successful careers. Her answer to Piers’ question “What is the best life lesson you’ve learnt?” should resonate with everyone. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It really isn’t worth getting upset or stressed about minor issues.”

My next call is to Mariah Carey who is looking for a new manager. I have met Mariah twice. First in a NY recording studio complex where she, Jennifer Lopez and Charlotte Church were all recording . Then with Prince at an after-show Grammy party. We were in the kitchen chatting at the house he was renting. Mariah may have reputation as a showbiz diva — eg demanding a corridor of candles as she arrived at a London hotel. But in person she is charming.

It is reported that our client, Strictly legend Arlene Phillips will become a Dame in the Queen’s birthday honours. It’s totally deserved for her devotion and dedication to both dance and charity.

My own charity shout out in this Pride month is for the brilliant work of Keshet UK. Their mission is to ensure that Jewish LGBT+ communities are included throughout Jewish life. In Keshet’s own words “we believe in a world where no one has to choose between their LGBT+ and Jewish identity. We believe that Jewish communities should be nurturing, warm and welcoming places and they haven’t always been for LGBT+ Jewish people”.


Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE is chairman of InterTalent

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