Mark Ronson, Alesha Dixon, Tinie Tempah and Lemar dish out advice to youngsters in Hackney

Singer Tinie Tempah and DJ Mark Ronson were among those on a celebrity panel dishing out advice to young people struggling to get their feet on the career ladder last week.

The famous faces, which also included singer Lemar, Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon, actress Brooke Kinsella and SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, took part in a frank and open discussion about their journeys to success and obstacles they had surmounted to get there last Wednesday.

The panel answered questions on surviving gang culture, persistency in the face of failure and pursuing one’s passions during the Against the Odds event which was hosted by the Prince’s Trust in its Bayford Street offices, Hackney.

The event was held to tackle a potential “lost generation” of nearly a million 18- to 24-year-olds struggling to get into full-time work – including the 1,800 young people in Hackney currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

When asked about their journey to success, Ms Dixon confessed that at school, she originally wanted to be a teacher and had only decided to go into music at college. She said she was “skint for five years” trying to pursue her dream to get a record deal and took jobs such as “packing toothpaste to get train fares”. She said her father’s lack of support spurred her on, saying: “He thought it was a massive risk and I wanted to prove him wrong.”

Lemar said it had taken him eight years before he “got a break”, saying “I never thought it was going to happen to anyone from Tottenham. I had friends who were doing regular jobs and buying houses asking me what I was doing and telling me to give up.”

Tinie added: “Everybody in here is in control of their own destiny. The way you think has a huge impact on your future.”

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Mark Ronson said it had taken him 10 to 12 years to become successful, saying: “There were times I thought it was never going to happen and I saw others who came up at the same time as me who went sky-high.”

After a question about how the stars coped with depression and sadness, he went on to confess that despite his fame he struggles with anxiety every day and is currently getting help to tackle the problem.

Former EastEnders star Miss Kinsella, whose brother Ben was murdered in Holloway four years ago, said: “There are days you are just sad. You have to reach inside yourself to get over that, but don’t be afraid to have those days.”

She urged young people who did not have jobs to volunteer or start their own project from home and “get a fan base”.

Jace Joseph, 21, a peer facilitator from Wick Road, Homerton, said: “It was definitely inspiring. I will take from today all the things they said about keeping motivated.”

The Prince’s Trust charity provides training and financial support.

n The Q&A session was also web-streamed live. To see video highlights of the event, visit