When I was 14, I attended a Whoopi Goldberg show at the Albany Empire, and was totally blown away. At that time, there weren't any black female stand-up comics in the UK, so Whoopi became my mentor, inspiring me to become the first one.
Her show was very hard-hitting. She made no apologies for her humour or the controversial topics she covered, which I thought was incredible. As Whoopi's career progressed, her versatility, combining stand-up comedy with acting, again inspired me to do both, rather than make a choice between one or the other.
Another significant reason why Whoopi is my mentor is that she, too, suffers from dyslexia, a condition I had always kept private. Once I read that I was in such good company, I felt that I could "own" my dyslexia, it was like a gift to me. We are also both left-handed and Scorpios, as I discovered when I was lucky enough to interview Whoopi in 1998.
Our meeting was the most amazing interview I have ever undertaken - and I've spoken to some incredibly inspirational and interesting people over the years. It was supposed to be an exclusive 10-minute interview for her to plug her bestseller, Book, but we ended up chatting for two hours.
Whoopi gave me several pieces of advice that I have followed to this day. When I was stressing about the roles offered to women in film, she calmly said, "It's not that deep, it's never that deep, all you can be is the best you can be".
My relationship with Whoopi has developed since that first meeting, and now she has agreed to be the Patron Saint of a school for the performing arts that I'm opening in 2008. Located in Lewisham, where I grew up, the school will be an excellent place for young people to develop their talents and skills, and with me and Whoopi at the helm, hopefully we can inspire many more young people to be, in the words of my mentor, the best they can be.
Angie Le Mar is a comedian and presenter of The Angie Le Mar Show on Choice FM, Saturdays 9am-middayReuse content