Notion meets with journalist, presenter, producer and comedian, Amelia Dimoldenberg, to chat Chicken Shop Date, being her own boss, new Channel 4 show Celebrity Rebrand, social media and much more.
Known for her immensely popular YouTube series, Chicken Shop Date, in which she attempts to romance a whos-who of celebs such as Joy Crookes, Giveon, Aitch, Mo Gilligan, Ghetts and Shaybo over a box of chicken and chips, Amelia Dimoldenberg has steadily climbed her way into our hearts – as well as countless DMs.
Having run the series for almost a decade, Dimoldenberg has carried Chicken Shop Date through several iterations, taking it to Wireless festival in 2018 and 2019, creating a summertime series with Sean Paul and Headie One, and even going virtual during the pandemic, scoring dates with Mike Skinner, Munya Chawawa’s Unknown P, and 6LACK to name a few. Each episode pulls in anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of viewers, and thanks to dates with rapper-of-the-moment Jack Harlow and producer Finneas, she’s beginning to crack America too.
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Despite the continued success of Chicken Shop Date, journalist, presenter, comedian and producer Dimoldenberg has been constantly trying her hand at new concepts, hosting tongue-in-cheek YouTube series such as Who Cares? with the comedy TV channel Dave, Fake News with Pro:Direct Soccer, and worked with fashion brand Farfetch on its Test Drive series. On top of all of this, she has her self-produced Amelia’s Cooking Show, which has seen guests such as Maya Jama and Chunkz. Over on TV, Dimoldenberg created her own short documentary with VICE called The Alien Worshippers, and this year saw Amelia launch her own production company, Dimz Inc, and hire her first full-time employee.
Now, Dimoldenberg has just launched a new series with Channel 4, Celebrity Rebrand, where she takes on the poker-faced persona of a ‘celebrity brand visionary’, re-modelling top-tier Channel 4 talent, such as Jimmy Carr, Romesh Ranganathan, and more.
Notion first spoke with Dimoldenberg back in 2019. Now, two years on, and her career is deservedly flourishing more than ever. We dove into everything from her best and worst dates on-screen dates, to her plans for the future, social media highs and lows, blue tick follows, and much, much more.
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Chicken Shop Date started 8 years ago and now you’re almost at one million subscribers! How does it feel to have reached such a milestone?
I know! We’re 20,000 away. So who knows when we’ll get there. Maybe at the end of the year, maybe in January. But it is really crazy to be on a million because for YouTubers, one million is such a big milestone. One million of anything just seems like such a big number, so it’s really amazing. Often I don’t give myself credit because I find it cringe and it’s just not my style but I do think the one million subscribers is something to be excited about and proud of, so I’m really excited for that to happen soon.
You have also just been nominated for a Streamy award (Chicken Shop Date since won ‘Best Indie Series’). Did you ever anticipate this success?
They’re like the biggest YouTube awards so it’s really amazing to be recognised by YouTube. I have found out about a lot of other creators who were nominated in the awards. I’d love to be able to break America, that’s my ambition for the show, which we kind of did a bit with Jack Harlow. The more things I can be involved with in America, the better.
Where do you see Chicken Shop Date going in the future? How long do you see the series running for?
Well, the series is going to run until I find a boyfriend. That’s kind of how I’ve always seen it pan out. But everything has a time limit. So if for some reason that doesn’t happen, I will be ending the series at some point. I can’t say when but it will end with a bang. So whether that’s Drake’s episode – I’m going to end it when I feel on a high because I think that’s the best way to do anything. We’re on a good roll at the moment with episodes. There’s loads of episodes I want to film so it’s not going to end anytime soon, but it can’t go on forever.
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You’ve had some huge guests on the show, everyone from Ed Sheeran and Finneas to Jack Harlow, Daniel Kaluuya, Joy Crookes and more. Who else would you like to appear on the show?
Obviously Drake. I’m really trying hard to get Central Cee on the show. He notoriously doesn’t do any interviews – like none! But I met him at the MOBOs and I’m trying to sweet-talk him into going on a date with me. It’s not an interview, it’s a date, so maybe that can happen. But he’s on top of my list. This is a bit of a rogue one but I’d love to get Louis Theroux. He’s a big idol of mine. I think he’d be brilliant. Charli XCX, Sam Fender, Pa Salieu, Fredo. Gemma Collins, even. There’s so many amazing, iconic people that it takes a lot to get some people on the show, especially as a lot of the people that I’d love to get on don’t really do that much press or don’t go on that many dates. So they’re notoriously hard to get, but that’s why they’d be so brilliant because you don’t really see that much of their personality.
We have to ask – which guest was the best date? And which was the most awkward?
My best date always changes because I have so many favourites but at the moment, my favourite person to interview has been Aitch. I just love him and we’re good friends now from it. That’s also the most viewed episode, with 11 million views. People really love that one. He was such a perfect guest. He was cheeky, he was flirting with me back, he was also like shutting me down. It was the perfect Chicken Shop vibe. He’s just such a great guy. In terms of awkwardness, when I first started doing the Wireless episodes where I would go backstage at Wireless festival, that was the first time I would be interviewing Americans. It was just so awkward because first of all, the cultural barrier of English and American references. But I think with Chicken Shop Date, it thrives off awkwardness, it’s such a big part of the whole format. So actually, when it’s awkward, it still works in my favour. Whereas when you’re doing a regular interview, the one thing it shouldn’t be is awkward. For me, I’ve flipped that as my USP. So I’d say it’s never too awkward on Chicken Shop Date.
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Being your own boss, how do you stay motivated? Especially during hard times like the pandemic?
I feel like I’ve always been a very motivated person. I remember I’ve always been doing the most, whether that was like in primary school to secondary school to now. Often it drives me insane how ambitious I am, so I’ve never had trouble motivating myself. I think I probably have trouble with my expectations and disappointment. I’m often catastrophising in my own head that things aren’t good enough or that I’m not where I want to be. So that’s my struggle, being content with things and learning to take a backseat and just be grateful for everything rather than trying to constantly move forward all the time. So I don’t have trouble motivating myself but I probably have trouble with being too hard on myself. My advice for myself and for other people is to broaden out your interests, broaden out the things that give you happiness. I spoke to a therapist about it last year because I realised I just wasn’t happy because I’m always concentrating on what’s next? What else can we do? Then you’re missing the actual fun in anything. So, broaden out what makes you happy because it can’t all just come from one thing, aka, your career, your partner, or even your friends or your dog. You’re going to be disappointed, there are always bumps in the road. I try and make sure that loads of different things bring me joy rather than just that one thing, then it’s more balanced. With balance comes more relaxation and happiness.
What’s the most intimidating situation you have found yourself in and how did you get through it?
I was most nervous for something / intimidated when I interviewed Andy Murray, because he is just so famous. He’s also a sportsperson and I think at that point, I hadn’t interviewed that many sportspeople. And with sportspeople comes a scary entourage, and they are intimidating. You literally get 20 minutes or 10 minutes, a very minimal amount of time, which is also intimidating because you have to perform and get everything that you need in a very short amount of time. I had to do this show called Career Coach and I was super intimidated. But actually, it’s one of my favourite pieces of content that I’ve done and he was so brilliant and kind – and he followed me back on Instagram! And now we’re Instagram friends – love you Andy Murray.
You got that follow for follow in the bag!
I always like that. I feel it really cements the friendship, you know?
You’re not pals until you follow each other on Instagram, right?
Not everyone follows me back! There’s quite a few dates that need to follow me back. They’re not replying to my DMs.
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I wanted to congratulate you on your upcoming Channel 4 show, Celebrity Rebrand. It’s produced by comedian Romesh Ranganathan’s company, Ranga Bee. How did the concept for the show come together, and how did it end up in Romesh’s hands?
I’m a huge fan of Romesh. I think he’s probably my favourite comedian. He and Mo Gilligan are up there. I don’t know how we connected. I’ve always watched his stuff, but he must have seen an episode of Chicken Shop Date or something. Anyway, his producing partner Ben Green had come to watch me when I was on this ITV show called Don’t Hate the Playaz. They actually kicked me off because my sense of humour didn’t vibe with the rest of them. I was basically too funny for that show [laughs]. Luckily, Ben was in the audience and he messaged me afterward saying he and Romesh would love to work with me on something. We’ve kind of been speaking for years trying to find the right idea. We had another pilot called ‘PA for the Day’ where I’m a celebrity’s PA for the day. It’s fly on the wall, semi-scripted, and then that’s then transformed into Celebrity Rebrand. It was a joint enterprise but with any ideas that I come up with, it is based around a character or persona of somebody that thinks they’re qualified for a job that they really are not. That’s where the comedy comes from. So with Celebrity Rebrand, it’s exactly that. I have pitched myself as a brand guru to some of Channel 4’s top tier talent and I’m going to reinvent their brand, because I don’t think they’re doing a good enough job at the moment – which, obviously they are, but my character doesn’t think so. I’m very much interested in doing stuff with talent. Interviewing is my main passion – celebrity interviews are what I feel I’ve carved a niche out for myself in. That was kind of how we came up with the idea – how can we do a celebrity interview in an original way?
I love the concept and can’t wait to watch it. How have you dealt with your rising fame?
I feel like it’s been pretty gradual. During the pandemic, I became more recognisable. I think that TikTok has had a lot to do with it. I’ve got such a back catalogue now of episodes and content; I’ve been doing it for eight years but I’m still getting new fans all the time. A lot of people have only just started following me. I get recognised every time I leave the house now, which is a new thing. Now I’m on buses, zooming around London with the Footasylum ad, has contributed to that as well, which I obviously love [chuckles]. But yeah, it’s been a bit of adjustment. Sometimes I get bad anxiety around being approached on the street. It’s not that it makes me nervous. When anyone comes up to me, they always say the nicest things, it’s just weird. It’s a weird thing to acclimatise to. It’s an adjustment – now maybe I don’t go to certain places that I probably would have before because it’s going to be a hassle for people I’m with. But at the end of the day, it’s always positive because it means that people are watching my content. Because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be anywhere without people watching my stuff. Also with Chicken Shop Date, in particular, everyone’s really on board with me finding my one true love. People have got ideas of who I could meet or who they want to see on the show or they want to check-in if I still speak to Jack Harlow. This narrative is actually kind of true [laughs]. It’s a fun conversation to have with everyone.
Your career is so intertwined with social media. It often presents such a paradox for people in the public eye – for some a ‘can’t live with it, can’t live without it’ situation. It’s integral to success but can also create a lot of pressure. How has your relationship changed with social media over the years?
I’ve always stuck to quality over quantity. I have never scheduled my uploads on YouTube and I don’t have any schedule on Instagram either. I’ll wait for a good enough idea or a good enough talent to want to do the show. I’ve been lucky in that sense that I’ve never been bound to put something out every week and I know a lot of people really struggle with that pressure. That’s not to say that I’m not always worrying about it, because I’m still worrying about it, but I’m worrying about getting the right person. Sometimes I can probably be too picky, but everyone in their dating life is picky [laughs]. But in terms of social media and Instagram, I feel like I’m often at war with myself, torn between being hot and funny. Especially with women, it’s actually exhausting having to be good-looking all the time. It’s just relentless. I feel that pressure – I’m always thinking, oh my god, do I look hot enough? But I’m also trying to be funny and trying to be clever and witty and trying to be relatable. I think a lot of women will probably agree. The thing with comedy, I want to make myself look like an idiot because I love that side of my personality and that’s funny, but I also want to go on a date with someone soon, so will they like me still? That’s what I deal with in my head with social media. It’s constantly trying to put out all these different sides to myself, and I find it quite exhausting sometimes. So what is the solution? I don’t really take breaks from Instagram, I’m on it all the time. I don’t know what the solution is yet.
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It’s such a societal pressure. There’s not necessarily a solution to come from us as women. Hopefully it will come with a change in the way that people use social and the things that people expect of a woman in the public eye. Perhaps that will change over the years and we won’t feel torn between choosing which side of ourselves to show. We will just be able to be multifaceted without question.
It’s interesting because I say it’s a pressure to show how multifaceted I think I am, but I’m also doing that because women are so many different things. People are so many different things. I think often social media can put you into a box of one thing and it can actually narrow down your identity. But then on the flip side, social media is amazing at showing all the different sides to your identity. I’m trying to show all these different sides of myself and it’s for wanting to make a positive change. But it’s also exhausting [laughs]. It’s a job at the end of the day to have a big Instagram following.
Being your own brand as well.
Yes, but I do love that. I love being my own brand. That’s something that I’m learning more and more of – how to run a small business and how to be a manager of people in my team and making sure that I have a great work community and team ethos with the people I work with. I’m learning so much. I’m hiring my first full time employee, we’re working with different freelancers. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that I don’t really show because I get quite anxious when I see people show how busy they are. I feel it adds a pressure that you need to be doing that as well. Only because when I watch that from other people, it honestly makes me anxious [laughs].
There is such a culture of busyness at the moment.
It’s about showing it in the right way. But then again, people should be allowed to boast about what their accomplishments are.
What are your career goals for 2022? What are you manifesting?
World peace, number one [laughs]. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Definitely would love to go to the States. I’d love to do a series in America. So many of my favourite artists are American, and I would love to be able to go there and interview some. Celebrity Rebrand is still going into 2022. I’m so excited for that. I’ve got some big brand announcements coming out next year. I can’t say what yet but it’s really exciting things that are really different actually. I think people will be pleasantly surprised. And then more Chicken Shop Date episodes. And I’m going to do a second series of the cooking show [Amelia’s Cooking Show] and more football content because I love footballers… and I’m actually a big football fan at the moment. I’m going to be playing football as well in 2022.