UTV’s Sarah Clarke: Sometimes you just have to put the game-face on

UTV's Sarah Clark
UTV's Sarah Clark

Hands-on UTV reporter Sarah Clarke, 37, covers everything from court reporting, breaking news, and recently anchored the St. Patrick’s Day coverage as well as looking forward to working on the upcoming Balmoral Show.

Hands-on UTV reporter Sarah Clarke, 37, covers everything from court reporting, breaking news, and recently anchored the St. Patrick’s Day coverage, as well as looking forward to working on the upcoming Balmoral Show,

UTV's Sarah Clark

UTV's Sarah Clark

As an important part of the station’s core news team alongside Marc Mallet, Paul Clark and Rose Neill, versatile Sarah cites the Royal wedding of William and Kate, in addition to the Pope’s visit to Scotland and more recently, the Northern Ireland homecoming from the Euros, as just some of her presenting highlights.

Chatting to the hardworking mother-of-two as she prepares to dash out to collect her young daughter, Emily, aged four, from nursery (Sarah is also mum to Daniel, six), the outgoing journalist’s enthusiasm for her role at UTV is clear - and positively infectious.

“I grew up in a house where the TV, the radio and the newspapers were always on the go. I was constantly surrounded, it was that kind of household where the news was always present” Sarah explains.

Having graduated in law and French from Queen’s University, Belfast, Sarah made the decision to become a journalist after qualifying as a solicitor. “I was involved with the school magazine, the school news paper, and did a lot of drama. So I guess it was always kind of there, I always had different options available to me because I did law, but it came as a natural thing to explore.”

Having previously described jobs in journalism as like “hen’s teeth”, Sarah worked for the Irish News and BBC Radio Ulster before landing her first full-time staff job as a radio news journalist at U105 in 2005. She has since worked her way up to where she is today. “That’s the thing about journalism, you have to be persistant, you have to be determind. You can’t be someone who is easily swayed or put off. I think ultimately though, you have to love it and enjoy it and if you do that, and just focus on enjoying the job at hand and doing your best every day, then hopefully those opportunities will arise for you.

“I just think it is about enjoying the job that you are on, and doing the best job on the particular story you are given.”

But Sarah is quick to add a career in TV was not what she “set out” for, “I really just enjoyed everything I did journalistically. I loved working on the stories when I worked at the Irish News, and even the Traffic and Travel reporting. Being on TV was not the ‘be all and end all’ for me. I did the career progression within UTV, but it was more about getting out on the stories. You wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity on the radio desk to get out on the stories, so the way you got out was through TV, so it kind of almost just happened that way - because that was the way to get your teeth into a decent story.

“I am always nervous to a degree,” Sarah admits, when asked if she ever feels self-conscious in front of the camera. “I always have a tiny bit of nerves, but I think you need that in order to perform well.

“You can’t shy away from the fact that part and parcel of being on TV means you have to look well-presented and you have to look well-groomed, but like any woman there are days when you might not feel up to it. But you have to put the ‘game-face’ on and perform and do it”, Sarah says determinedly. “That is, I suppose, the professionalism of it.

“I would never say I feel self-conscious in front of the camera. More so, I would say I’m conscious of what works well for me. I stick to plain colours, good plain cuts of clothes, and avoid things like lots of patterns and that sort of thing. I know what works for me and for TV, so I try and stick to that.

“For the studio lights, you have to put on extra makeup than you would normally. You need powder, which I wouldn’t normally wear, as I quite like a glossy look for day-to-day. Even if you’re not a very shiny person, you still need it, which is something I have come to know. You would also need a bit more eye makeup, not too much - as that can look really heavy.

“The lights can really flush your colour, so you need a bit of extra bronzer and blusher too.

“I have everything in my makeup bag, from Rimmel, right through to Clinique and Barry M, I mix it up. To be honest I actually use a cheaper foundation which I have found works really well for me. As a busy mum-of-two it depends what you can grab from the local chemist!

“I use a Rimmel foundation and Clinique powder, and I like my MAC eyeshadows. I have a nice Eyeko liquid eyeliner and a highlighter which I love called By Terry.

“On days with the children I forgo the powder. I always wear some makeup, I am not brave enough to go completely barefaced. But I certainly don’t do the full studio makeup everyday,” laughs Sarah. “But I would do a bit of mascara and lipgloss, even when I am off.

“We like to relax by going for nice long walks, going to the park, and watching movies together. We’re just a normal family.”