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Gemma Hunt Discussed Family, Belief, And Her Series For Children

Image Source: gemma__hunt @ instagram


Gemma Hunt Discussed Family, Belief, And Her Series For Children

If you, like many others, have CBeebies as a regular feature in your home, with its catchy tunes playing in your head throughout the day. Over the years, we’ve become very familiar with the presenters on CBeebies, including the delightful Gemma Hunt from Swashbuckle.
Gemma has been appearing on CBBC and CBeebies for over 20 years, entertaining kids of all ages. And now, she’s delving into the world of children’s books with her series, See, Let’s Be, which focuses on imitative behavior.
“While working at CBeebies and CBBC, we’ve often been reminded that our viewers will imitate what we do, so we need to be positive role models,” states Gemma.
“I take that responsibility seriously, particularly now that I’m a mother to my seven-year-old daughter. When I look at children’s literature, I don’t see our type of family represented in the books.”
Gemma’s mother is Jamaican, and her father and husband are English. Their daughter is of mixed race, and Gemma felt that their family structure wasn’t reflected in books and on TV.
“For her, our family is normal, but she has a black-skinned grandmother, a brown-skinned mom, and a white-skinned dad. I wanted her to feel like she was seen and that this was ordinary for her and for many other children.”
It was crucial to Gemma that she portrayed mixed-race families in her books, while also making her faith a recurring theme throughout the series.
“I wanted to integrate Bible stories in my daughter’s readings that didn’t depict Jesus as a blue-eyed, blonde-haired white guy because that wouldn’t be accurate for where he came from. I aimed to focus on the characteristics and traits of Jesus, rather than fixating on his physical appearance, and then relate that to different characters. The entire series is about emulating Christ-like characters through modern-day family characters.”
The characters in the books are inspired by Gemma’s own family, including her husband, daughter, mother, and father. For the purpose of the book, they’ve welcomed a son into their family, who is actually the child of some friends of Gemma’s.
The first book, See! Let’s Be A Good Friend, aims to encourage children to be good friends using five Bible stories rewritten into a modern-day setting to help children understand concepts like love and sharing kindness.
Gemma’s second book, See, Let’s Be Me, focuses on helping children become the best versions of themselves, addressing how to manage emotions, feelings, and differing perspectives.
As well as aiding our children in handling their emotions and feelings and fostering important conversations between family members, faith is an important theme throughout Gemma’s books.
“My faith is my foundation and the air that I breathe. It’s everything that I am and I don’t know how to do life without it. And so in those moments of difficulty and trauma, or even celebration, joy, I’ve got something else I can look out to. I love the fact that I can rely and depend on Jesus, I can seek help from God to get through the things that I’m going through. I don’t know how other people do it. Even like yesterday, I had a real wobble about something that happened with my daughter at school, so I texted the family Whatsapp group, like can you just pray for her? I just need that support and encouragement, that comfort in that moment. After praying, I just felt so much lighter and freer.”
Although Gemma is a regular on our screens, she keeps her personal life under wraps, so you might not realize that Gemma has a daughter of her own, and since having her own child, it’s made her appreciate her job even more, understanding the true value of children’s programs.
“I feel like we’re making really good quality content that I’m happy for my child to learn from, and to enjoy and take delight in. I love the fact that I had the privilege of being a part of people’s memories, part of their childhood, at such important times when they are formulating their opinions and their ideas about themselves in the world. We get to be a part of that. And it’s such a privilege. I don’t take it for granted at all.”
We can’t imagine how excited our kids would be if their mum was a CBeebies legend, so it’s no surprise Gemma’s daughter is proud as punch of her mum.
“She takes the books into school and very proudly shows them for show and tell. And then when it’s World Book Day, she just goes as herself.”
As well as working on her books, Gemma’s been working hard in the background filming Songs of Praise as well as the legendary Cbeebies Pantomime. This year, it’s Robin Hood, and it will premiere on Cbeebies on December 9th, 2023 at 9.25 am.
“They’re so much fun, myself and a couple of the other mum presenters call it our working mum’s holiday. We’re working. We’re away from home, but we don’t have any parental responsibilities, so it’s kind of like a holiday because we really are best friends.”
As a child, it was Saturday Morning Television and the family-friendly evening shows she grew up watching that made Gemma want to be a presenter herself.
“I think those kinds of family viewing shows, which I now sit down and watch with my daughter are great. Today’s equivalents are Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent. They’re a great way to bring people together. And although I think we spend too much time on screens, if we can do it collectively, I feel like that’s still spending time together because you’ve got a common interest in that moment. So watching things together and getting excited about them together is really lovely. We’re currently watching Strictly again this year, and my daughter is a massive fan. Every week we sit and we watch it together and she dances around the living room and it’s just fun. We’ve got a lot of score paddles that we hold up and we score alongside the judges.”
Despite being a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing, it’s not something Gemma would want to take part in herself.
“Even if you offered to pay off the mortgages of everybody that I knew, it’s not going to happen. I’ll just enjoy it on the television.”
It’s hard to believe with Gemma having such a long and successful career on TV that she’d ever get nervous, but one of the reasons she would avoid taking part in Strictly is down to her own battles with anxiety.
“I’ve battled with anxiety for years working in television, the number of times I’ve thrown up before doing a job, the nerves are massive for me. I got to a point where it was so bad that I had terrible acne as well because I just couldn’t cope. It’s another reason why I’m not doing Christmas Panto this year.”
Anxiety can impact us in many different ways, and as soon as you become a parent, that anxiety can often be much harder to deal with, and it’s definitely something Gemma has had to learn to let go of.
“Because I go away quite a lot, I’ve had to learn to let go of the mummy guilt. If I didn’t I think that would become all-consuming and I wouldn’t be able to do the job that I’m doing to provide for and take care of my daughter. I need to know that I’ve put all the provisions in place such as childcare, making sure we’ve got people picking her up, making sure that she knows what she’s doing and what clubs are happening and lunches and you know, all that stuff is in place so that when I go away, I just have to trust that my tribe of family and friends that are supporting me and helping me have got it. And I can’t feel guilty for doing a job that I love that I know I’m good at and that ultimately is providing for my daughter. I’ve been able to share that with her along the way as well so she knows that mummy has to go away so that we can keep the heating on so that I can get you some new school shoes.”
We can imagine having a very famous mum in the playground must get difficult at times for Gemma’s daughter, but it sounds like she takes it in her stride.
“She’ll always step to the side and let the kid come over and run up and hug me or have a photograph with me. But we have a little thing where I just give her a wink and she winks back and she knows that I get to go home with her. So she’s cool. There will come a time when she’ll say ‘Mum, would you stop putting on that bandana?’
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