Formula 1 Expert Dr Natalie Le Clue – ‘Be Unreasonably Persistent’

Having invested over a decade into her print journalism experience with the likes of Sports24 and Wheels24, Dr Natalie Le Clue has established herself as the most formidable F1 columnist in the country, in addition to successfully pursuing a PhD in Media Studies. All Photos: Supplied

Considered among the Top 100 Most Influential People in South African Sports by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, 2010 and 2015 gsport Woman in Media winner Dr Natalie Le Clue has spun a delectable web of passion and dedication to her craft. 

Having invested over a decade into her print journalism experience with the likes of Sports24 and Wheels24, Le Clue has established herself as the most formidable F1 columnist in the country, in addition to successfully pursuing a PhD in Media Studies. 

Taking time out from her busy schedule, Natalie makes special mention of gsport and its work, and describes a journey of ambition full of insights into how Women in Media continue to change the game. 

Natalie, congratulations on all you have achieved since we last chatted to you. What is your PhD in and would you care to mention the field of your dissertation? 

My PhD is Doctor of Philosophy in Media Studies. My PhD study reimagines fairy-tale analysis. I use the Looking Glass Paradigm, a new method rooted in feminist theory, to explore modern female characters and their reflections of societal values. However, my postdoctoral research project, and other research, in the field of fan studies wherein I focus specifically on toxic fan behaviours and their impact within fan communities and media landscapes.

Work wise, what occupies your time daily?

I am currently conducting a research study/project as a postdoctoral fellow. The central focus of which is to broaden the theoretical scope of fan studies to include a South African and global south perspective. I believe this is needed to ensure that Fan Studies is a genuinely inclusive and diverse field of study. 

Fun Fact: Fan studies examines the culture and behaviours of fans, exploring how they interact with and interpret various forms of media. 

As fate would have it, one of the pieces of research I am currently working on is a journal article that examines how controversial sporting events like the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix trigger polarisation, among fans, in online environments. I have a particular interest in delving into the dynamics of online discourse and behaviour. 

You are a two-time gsport Woman in Media winner, having won in 2010 and 2015, what impact did winning in those two years have on your career?

Winning these two awards remains, easily, as some of the best moments of my journalistic career, heck, my life! It not only allowed me to share more of passion via platforms such as SAfm and Media24, but it also validated the passion I have for Formula 1. This validation was particularly significant in a field where women are still underrepresented. 

The recognition from gsport also boosted my confidence significantly. It served as tangible proof that my work was making an impact and, perhaps, resonating. This confidence boost empowered me to persevere and to explore new angles in my coverage of Formula 1.

You are F1 obsessed, and founded F1 Madness. Is that still going and how are you staying involved in motorsport these days?

We are currently in the process of re-launching F1 Madness; a new look, a new logo, and perhaps even a new podcast. I am extremely proud of the fact that F1 Madness remains as the only South African online publication fully focused on Formula 1 racing. It is the intention, in the next few months, to ramp up participation in F1 Madness. 

I continue to write my Talking F1 column for Media24, which has been running since 2008! More recently I have begun to expand the content I provide to Media24, which includes life beyond the F1 race track e.g. breaking down the headlines and providing commentary and/or analysis on the goings on of Formula 1.

How much has women’s sport changed in the last 10 years and what has been the biggest highlight for you?

In the South African context I feel as if there has been a definite rise in recognition of women’s sport. The Proteas women’s cricket team stands as the greatest testament to this. 

Their success is reverberating on national and global platforms. It not only captivates attention but also ignites a profound shift in societal perceptions, which is enabling a shift in the narrative surrounding women’s sports. It is evolving and signalling a journey towards inclusivity and empowerment. 

Another encouraging development in sports broadcasting is the increasing presence of female commentators, analysts, and experts. Yes, there is still more ground to cover, but it is heartening to witness more women taking centre stage in these roles. 

What challenges still face women’s sport?

Achieving parity in the perception of women’s sports is essential. Despite the strides made in recent years, there remains a prevalent notion that women’s achievements in sports are somehow secondary or less significant compared to men’s. 

This perception often relegates women’s sports to the status of a novelty or sideshow rather than recognising them as equally deserving of respect, attention, and investment. It’s crucial to challenge this mindset and shift towards viewing women’s sports as integral components of the sporting landscape, deserving of equal recognition, support, and celebration.

How much have you followed gsport’s growth and what do you make of the initiative’s journey to date?

I marvel at the incredible rate at which gsport has grown! Since my first gsport Awards experience in 2010, I’m overjoyed by how much the platform has expanded and evolved since then. I vividly recall attending the 2010 event – held as a morning event – and being inspired by the celebration of women’s achievements in sports media. 

The fact that it has grown into such a prominent and influential platform, championing the contributions of women in sports, speaks volumes about the dedication and vision of its founders and supporters. 

The impact of gsport on women in South African sport has been profound, and in many ways immeasurable. It’s difficult to capture the extent to which gsport has transformed the landscape of women’s sports in the country. Its influence transcends numbers, reaching deep into hearts and minds. 

Through its tireless advocacy, gsport has shattered stereotypes, provided visibility and recognition for female athletes, and inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams in sports and beyond – It has created a ripple effect of empowerment.

gsport has sparked conversations, ignited passions, and united people from diverse backgrounds under a shared vision of promoting women in sports. Its impact resonates far beyond the confines of awards ceremonies and media coverage, touching lives and shaping attitudes in ways that cannot be quantified.

What is your advice to women in media who want to further their studies. What nugget of wisdom do you have for them?

Embrace curiosity and continuous learning. Don’t be afraid to explore diverse areas within media studies, from journalism and broadcasting to digital media and communications. 

Seek out mentors and peers who can offer guidance and support along the way. Remember that your unique perspective and voice are valuable assets in the media world, so embrace authenticity and don’t shy away from sharing your insights and ideas. 

Be unreasonably persistent. It’s a credo I aim to live by. 

Click Link to Watch Natalie’s Video Clip on this Topic

Who are the women in media who you admire and why?

Kass Naidoo. Kass’s contributions to the world of sports, particularly in South Africa, are truly admirable and profound. As the driving force behind gsport, she has not only provided a platform for women in sport but has also spearheaded a cultural shift in the perception of women’s sports. 

Her relentless dedication, passion, and vision have been instrumental in challenging stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and amplifying the voices of female athletes and sports professionals. Through her leadership, gsport has become more than just an awards platform—it’s a movement that champions inclusivity, equality, and empowerment in sports media and beyond.

Julia Stuart and Motshidisi Mohono never cease to amaze me with their unwavering professionalism, dedication, and expertise. Their passion for their craft is evident in every broadcast, and their ability to engage audiences and deliver insightful commentary sets them apart as true leaders in the field of sports journalism.

What do you still want to achieve in media?

My goal in media is simple: to keep on sharing my love of Formula 1. The methods and platforms on which I have been able to share my passion has changed and I am sure it will continue to evolve, but my enthusiasm for it has not wavered and I welcome whatever the journey forward presents. 

And if I can lend a helping hand or provide advice to fellow enthusiasts or budding media practitioners along the way, I see that as a meaningful and fulfilling part of my journey.


Photo Caption: Having invested over a decade into her print journalism experience with the likes of Sports24 and Wheels24, Dr Natalie Le Clue has established herself as the most formidable F1 columnist in the country, in addition to successfully pursuing a PhD in Media Studies. All Photos: Supplied 

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gsport Newsroom

gsport Newsroom

Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!

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