Billie J.D. Porter is by no means a shy and retiring flower, which is probably why she’s such an entertaining presenter. At just twenty-two years old she is already streaking ahead in her career with the confidence of a seasoned pro. Born and raised in Kings Cross, she started blogging for NME from the age of fifteen, where she says she "constantly had to lie about how old I was because I knew that no one would take it seriously if they knew I was fifteen or sixteen doing it." She later worked for VICE, and then landed a spot as a roving reporter for the Channel 4 documentary The Joy of Teen Sex.
Since then, Billie has been drawn to documentaries which centre on people who live unique lives; from beauty queens in South America to teenage gaming addicts in China in her latest three-part documentary. Most of her recent work has taken her away from home which poses a challenge."It’s quite difficult to use an interpreter all the time, because you have to do so much stuff off camera to try bond with the characters because essentially they’re talking to someone else not you," says Billie. This is not the only difficult thing about being a documentary-maker. "Lucky as I am – I’m all the time pinching myself that I’ve got the best job in the world, I get to see these places – after a few weeks sometimes it is quite isolating."
When it comes to her wardrobe, Billie's in more familiar territory and mixes her Sophia Webster shoes with pieces she finds on her travels for work. Matching a yellow slip found in a market in China with her designer pieces has come about from practice, and the lack of pocket money when she was younger. "I never really had money or an allowance to spend on clothes so I always just borrowed my parents’ and try and make it work." Now as a documentary maker she has to put more thought into her outfits. "It’s difficult," she says, "because sometimes when I wear certain things I don’t want it to distract from what I’m saying. It just wouldn’t be appropriate if you’re wearing a designer outfit when you’re with people who have a very modest life." But if she were to dress up? Marques Almeida denim, all the way. Her fashion credentials are building, having been picked to model for the likes of Louis Vuitton in the past.
Watch Billie’s Secrets of China series on iPlayer now, as well as World of Weird on Channel 4 where Billie does a piece on the world’s largest family in India. Despite her travels, Billie firmly remains a London girl.
Text by Prudence Wade