Honorary Degree for Acton YouTube Trailblazer

University of West London recognises success of Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards accepting his degree at Twickenham Stadium event
Jamal Edwards accepting his degree at Twickenham Stadium event



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A man from Acton who has been credited with shaping the future of online music with his trailblazing use of YouTube has been given an honorary degree by the University of West London (UWL).

Jamal set up the iconic SBTV channel as a teenager when he was still at school – uploading his first music video to a new online space called YouTube at the age of just 15. Just years later, SBTV had become a world-leading culture platform with millions of viewers and helping break artists including Ed Sheeran.

Jamal, who grew up in Acton, went on to inspire young people, appearing in the Times’ Young Power List and being chosen to promote the newly launched Google Chrome browser.

He now dedicates his energy to campaigns for causes including tackling HIV, prevention of crime, mental health and social engagement.

He was made an MBE for his work in 2014 and continues to support young people across West London through a series of youth clubs and community activities, including via the Jamal Edwards Delve, a project working to refurbish and reopen youth centres.

Receiving the award of Honorary Doctor of Letters from UWL during a ceremony at Twickenham Stadium this week, Jamal said, “I started working in music at 15-years-old, and I had no idea what I was doing but I gave it a go and kept going. YouTube became my CV and that is how I got offered opportunities.

“Looking back, I was afraid to fail, I never asked questions because I thought I wasn’t good enough or that people would say no. One of the biggest hurdles for me was accepting that people will say no and that is ok.

“I started at such a young age. I set up SBTV after my mum got me a video camera for Christmas and started to provide a voice for the voiceless.

“Now I realise that the opportunities are endless, you just have to be flexible and able to adapt to every situation, especially in the creative industries when things are changing so quickly.

“Receiving this award is an honour and a significant achievement in my life. It represents the world I love and is a milestone for me in everything I have done to help pave the way for others to find their path, and I am very honoured to be here today with all the graduates from the University of West London.”

Professor Anthony Woodman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at UWL, said, “It is a real honour to present Jamal with this award today in recognition for all that he has achieved both in his own career as a businessman, and for all he does to improve the lives of people around him.

“Jamal has received numerous awards; he was made an MBE at the age of just 24 and continues to campaign for activism around mental health and social engagement.

“He has stepped up to take a lead, and concerned at closure of youth facilities, is taking action to get young people off the streets and create experiences to help them get into work or apprenticeships.

“These attitudes embody everything we do here at UWL as we strive to create opportunities and provide a platform for people to follow their passions and grow their skills. We know Jamal will serve as an inspiration to our students, and congratulate him on everything he has achieved.”

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December 2, 2021


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