The Chase’s Shaun Wallace has revealed that he was told by his school’s careers adviser that he’d end up a thief and in prison when he told them he wanted to be a barrister.
Speaking on Racism: My Story, which airs tonight on Channel 5 at 10pm, the Mastermind Champion, 60, explains that he’s always wanted to be a barrister, but was laughed at by teacher when he explained his intentions as a teenager.
‘When I was 11 years old I knew what I wanted to be in life, I wanted to be a barrister,’ he says in the documentary.
‘I used to watch programmes like Crown Court and my hero Rumpole of the Bailey. And when I was 11 alongside my classmate, we both wrote to the Bar council.
The Chase’s Shaun Wallace (pictured), 60, says he was told by his school’s careers adviser that he’d end up a thief and in prison when he told them he wanted to be a barrister
‘And we got that letter back and it told us what we need to do qualify to be a lawyer.’
He continues: ‘At the age of 15 you have to go and see your careers teacher, and I showed her that letter., “You, Wallace? Lawyer? At best, you’re going to end up a thief and in prison and at worst you’ll probably end up packing shelves”,’ he said.
‘I mean, she was right about me ending up in prison, only she forgot I was seeing my client and I could go home again.’
Shaun, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, adds that he still faced racism after passing the Bar.
Shaun, who was born in London to Jamaican parents, adds that he still faced racism after passing the Bar. Pictured, on The Chase
As well as his quizzing prowess, Shaun is highly-regarded lawyer and was called to the Bar in November 1984, and completed pupillage 1988.
He is also a member of the Jamaican Bar.
‘I was never ever told I can’t go into these chambers because you’re black, I was never told that to my face,’ he explains. ‘But there are subtle ways of you not being taken on.
‘I remember when I got called to the Bar, it was the proudest moment of my life. There were black barristers who were practising in the so-called “ghetto chambers,” they weren’t in the top sets.
‘We had to form our own chambers in order to get work. I’m not using the term “ghetto chambers” in a disparaging manner, that was the term they opposed on us.
‘But in these so called “ghetto chambers” were some brilliant criminal barristers. There’s got to be proper representation based upon the ability to do your job.
‘Once you’ve got your ability to do your job, I see no reason why you can’t do that job, and if you’re not getting that job, I see no reason why you can’t get that job. And if you can’t get that job, there must be a reason why – the colour of your skin.’
Shaun, who is known on the show as ‘The Dark Destroyer’ (far right) is pictured with the other chasers, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett, Anne ‘The Governess’ Hegerty, Paul ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha, Jenny ‘The Vixen’ Ryan
The documentary airs 100 days after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by police in Minnesota earlier this year. Pictured, a memorial to Floyd in Manchester
The documentary also reveals that black and ethnic minority workers need to send an average of 60 per cent more job applications than white people to get an interview.
The documentary airs 100 days after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by police in Minnesota earlier this year.
His death sparked a huge movement across the globe which sees millions continue to march against racial injustice to this day.
Former MP Chuka Umunna also speaks to the cameras, as well as Dawn Butler, the MP for Brent Central, who recently accused the police of racially profiling her after she was pulled over while driving in east London.
Other contributors include writer and actor Andi Osho, former MP, doctor Janine Channer and former footballer and commentator Mark Bright.
Nurse Neomi Bennett, 47, who spent 18 hours in a prison cell after police pulled her over and said her tinted windows in the car were too dark, also features.
The NHS worker has previously been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to nursing, and invited to Downing Street in recognition of her work
Meanwhile, youth mentor Sayce Holmes-Lewis, and author and journalist Yomi Adegoke share their experiences of treatment by police, workplace discrimination, racism in schools, sport and on the streets.
Racism: My Story, airs tonight on Channel 5, at 10pm