Keith Dube – the writer and presenter you may know as Mr. Exposed – is making news for all the right reasons at the moment. His first ever BBC Three documentary, Being Black, Going Crazy landed last week, and is being praised nationally for putting the issue of black mental health on the map. He’s been interviewed by the BBC and Vice in the couple of days before I speak to him, his Twitter following is up, and his DMs, as he puts it himself, “are crazy right now.”
But it could have been so different.
“There was a point when my life just revolved around getting money. It was get money at whatever cost… I did almost anything to get it [and] did things I shouldn’t have been doing. So, when I lost that money, everything went downhill.”
That was the beginning of Dube’s turbulent journey with mental health. Worried about the perception of the people around him, Keith suffered in silence – as many young men do – until things reached breaking point.
“I think I was early twenties when I thought, this could be really bad. I went to see a doctor and he suggested I see a therapist. That’s when I started to overcome certain things and started to get out of certain things.” He also began to open up about his problems, a brave step, that in the end, would lead him in a new direction. “But as I said, when you live in a certain environment, you still have shit to do.”
That “shit to do” included drug-dealing. Dube was eventually beaten “half to death” in a drug deal that went wrong, leaving him partially sighted for a month and convinced that he had to change. With a new outlook, he moved to what he labels a “desperate housewives area” in Australia for a year, swapping street life for dog walking and muffing making. In doing so, he changed his path, using the year to write the aptly titled Kind of Like a Self-Help Book, and came back to England with a new lease of life.
“If it’s not gonna be the best, then what’s the point in doing it?” Keith asks. His career moves since returning to London have certainly lived up to his high expectations. First, his podcast Three Shots of Tequila propelled his profile, with it’s free-talking, unfiltered style earning him and his co-hosts a Rated Award nomination. He went on to co-host one of Radar Radio’s most popular shows, #MorningsUnfiltered, which bubbles with brutal honesty, fun and personality.
With some hesitation, Keith has now transitioned from behind the microphone to in front of the camera. Speaking of the documentary, he says, “I didn’t wanna do it initially, because I didn’t want to be out there.” Much like his mental health issues, though, he put his fears aside and took on the challenge. By making himself vulnerable, and connecting with people who had been through issues similar to his own on a documentary watched by hundreds of thousands, he overcame yet another hurdle in his way.
Being Black, Going Crazy takes on the sensitive topics of race and mental health in an empathetic way. Unlike much TV targeted at a young audience, it does not sensationalise around the topic and presents the journeys of the people it follows with care and humanity. It touches on the role racial prejudice, religion and economics play in mental health, and urges a more open honest discussion around the topic.
By being open about his mental health issues, Keith has not only overcome them, but made a successful path for himself. He has taken his fears, and turned them into wins. Keith Dube’s message is a simple but important one: “I did a different route and you can too. You can be whatever you want and succeed.”
Watch the Being Black, Going Crazy in full here on BBC Three.