The other side of the coin: An interview with Joe Acklam on the difficulties of dealing with fame. A
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the University of Kent’s biggest stars, Joe Acklam. The second-year undergraduate student has had a meteoric rise over the last twelve months following the release of his immensely popular and divisive series ‘Why X sport is pointless’. He rose to real prominence after he bravely decided to take on the untouchables, rugby. Many have referred to him as “a prodigy”, “incredibly talented”, and “essentially the second coming of Jesus Christ”. But, I had no real interest in finding out about that itself, I wanted to know about the man behind the persona.
Joe extended me the privilege of meeting him at his four-bedroom Canterbury residence and I was taken aback at how normal his surroundings were. You always assume that the stars have a very different lifestyle to us, but this was certainly not the case. He likes to keep people around who will challenge him. Whilst I was there, he was asked if he would like a drink and after responding that he wanted a Macallan 40-year, he was asked if he would prefer a glass of Louis Roederer. I asked him about his humble surroundings, to which he replied quickly: “I don’t like constantly reminding people of how much better I am than them. I like to think of myself as being no different from anyone else. I mean, obviously, I am far better than everyone around me, but there is no sense in flaunting it constantly. It is important to me that I remain humble.”
Humility is clearly something that Joe values extremely highly. I asked Joe about his muses for his visionary style of writing and he responded that he really relates to Conner Friel, who himself allowed a window into his life behind the public persona in the film ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’. “Before I begin my writing process or when I make public appearances, I like to remember the words to Conner’s song ‘Humble’. Something about that really resonated with me. I can completely relate to the feelings that he speaks about and having to act like everything you do is not as ground-breaking and impressive as it is. My apple crumble is most certainly the crumble-est. Because people do not like their role models being cocky, even if they can completely back it up. Just look at Lewis Hamilton.”
Acklam was also nominated for three KIC awards last year and has now taken up the role of InQuire’s Satire editor alongside hosting his own weekly radio show, but he was quick to pooh-pooh any suggestion that he deserves greater recognition. “No, being Satire Editor is not the most prestigious job, but I am very happy to do it. I find that there is more satisfaction in making something from nothing and creating your own legacy rather than just showing up previous editors that would have done that job before me. Do I deserve George Knight’s job? Absolutely, and I could easily do it. However, I feel that some people need these opportunities more than myself. People know what I can do anyway, others need the titles.”
It was at this point where I shifted the interview towards the negative aspects of doing things like this. It is obvious from his shift in tone and body language that these are things that have greatly impacted upon Joe and have weighed heavily upon him in the last year or so. “These things can be tough to adjust to. Even for a generational talent like myself. It always annoys me that these problems get dismissed as first world problems. I can barely move without these vultures wanting a selfie or an autograph. I’m like anybody else. I just want to have my white veal with gold leaf bread in peace.”
That was all the time that I could get with Joe, as he was off to a meet and greet. It was a great experience and I spent most of the first ten minutes just staring at him and enjoying being in is his aura. I could sense that he spends a long time thinking about the world around him and I think this is often lost on people.
Views expressed in InQuire's satire articles are those only of the writer and InQuire does not endorse any of these opinions, this section is dedicated to entertainment purposes only. We use fictitious characters in our stories, except in regards to public figures being satirised directly.
Images courtesy of InQuire Photography | Tahmid Morshed
This article is part of our one-off edition of IQ Magazine, out from November the 29th 2019. Pick up the magazine on campus in our InQuire distribution bins in Keynes, Co-op, the Templeman library and other locations on campus.