Daytime TV don Mr Motivator (aka 67-year-old Derrick Evans) is a poet of positivity. There isn’t a cloud he can’t see a silver lining in. As he puts it to NME: ”I’m always looking for an upside to every single situation because I like being happy.”
Many of us remember Motivator – and his cheery catchphrase, “Say yeah!” – from his buoyant, lycra-clad work-outs on ‘90s breakfast show GMTV. He’s kept up the energy ever since, gracing festivals across the country with his sunny outlook and communal exercise routines.
Even the current coronavirus crisis and subsequent UK lockdown hasn’t knocked the wind out of Motivator’s sails. A couple of weeks ago he made a heartwarming appearance on BBC Radio 4, extolling the virtues of exercise, and duly trended on Twitter. The other day (March 23) he led a feel-good fitness work-out via livestream on the Truck Festival Facebook page, raising £600 for the food bank charity Trussell Trust.
How can we stay positive in these most trying of times? NME gave Motivator a call to find out.
You’ve experienced something of a social media resurgence recently, Mr Motivator. How’s that felt?
“The response that I’ve been getting over the past two weeks has been tremendous. Long may it continue! If you’re doing something positive and it brings joy to other people, you do want it to continue. You don’t want people to forget how you make them feel. Maya Angelou said something years ago: ‘People may forget what you say. People may forget what you do. But people will never forget how you make them feel.’ That’s always resonated with me. It’s so true.”
You’re famously a positive fella. Given how bleak everything feels right now, are there any positives we can draw from self-isolation?
“We’ve all been forced to reassess: what is really important? At the moment what all of us are realising is that what’s important is food on your table and your health. That is all. You’re not worrying about whether your trousers are old. You’re not worrying about whether you’ll get a brand new car tomorrow. Families are much closer together now than they’ve ever been. All too often we say to people, ‘How are you doing?’, and we never wait around to see how they are. Now you have the time to find out how they are.”
We're LIVE with Mr Motivator in aid of The Trussell Trust! 💃 Join in and share your moves with #MotivatorMonday
Posted by TRUCK FESTIVAL on Monday, March 23, 2020
Your Life Lessons series on Instagram [through which he shares his words of wisdom] is bringing people a lot of joy, too…
“I wanted to do something that makes you think about where you are in life. About four weeks ago I said on there: who would you call if you knew that tomorrow would your last day? And when I did it I thought, ‘You know what? I’m gonna call the people that matter in my life right now.’ Every time we get out of bed it should be a celebration as if it’s our birthday. We should all be saying, ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ We are blessed in so many ways. I think we should count our blessings more often.”
Even you must have felt a bit dejected when festivals began to announce cancellations due to coronavirus though, surely?
“I’ve had so much work cancelled between this month and next month, but other doors have opened up. That’s what happens in life. I’ve had so many companies get in touch with me about doing work online. I was speaking to a gentleman who runs a company that works with older people. He said, ‘I can’t get older people to go on the Internet.’ I said, ‘You watch: in two months the situation will be totally different. Everyone who can’t get through to Grandma or Grandad is going to teach them to use the laptop so they can talk online. And you’ll get a brand new generation of people who are online.’ Isn’t that great?”
Do you think festival season can bounce back from this?
“Oh, for sure. Next year is gonna be a party all round – they’re gonna have greater numbers going out to them. Festivals are such an essential part of one’s calendar. It’s gonna be mad next year.”
Why did you choose the Trussell Trust to receive the funds from your – highly enjoyable, by the way – Truck Festival charity work-out?
“Because I remember what it’s like to be hungry. I was given away when I was three months old and my adoptive parents left me when I was 17. My girlfriend got pregnant and we ended up outside the homeless shelter in Harringay [north London] waiting for a handout and to be put in a bed and breakfast. There were days when it was tough, but I thought: ‘As long as I keep working hard, good times will come.’ To everyone who is feeling hopeless, that they should give up or give in, I say: don’t. Focus on going forward – don’t look behind you. Good things will happen. Good times will come.”
Will you be doing another charity work-out?
“I want to do more charity livestreams. Any charity that could benefit from me doing it – let’s do it because all of the charities are struggling right now as they usually rely on everyone doing crazy outdoor stuff to raise funds for them. Get in touch and we’ll make the arrangement. If you join in with my charity work-outs you’re doing something that will benefit you and also other people. I enjoyed doing it for Truck; it was lovely.”
How can people stay fit while they’re cooped up indoors during the lockdown?
“Put music on in your home. Every room should have music playing. Get your trainers on. With music playing and your trainers on, it makes you want to do something. Next: get away from the screen. Set your alarm so that every 30 minutes you get up and dance like there’s no tomorrow. If you dance like there’s no tomorrow, you’re gonna sweat like crazy, you’re gonna maintain your current level of fitness. Dancing like there’s no tomorrow is the aim of the game from now on – that’s what you do every day.”
A lot of people are afraid right now. It’s an uncertain time. What can they do to try and look on the bright side?
“If you have health, you have hope. And if you have hope, you have everything. To look after your health you’ve gotta listen to all the stuff on the newsreel. Follow the guidelines. Take control of your situation. You must look after yourself first and then you can help everybody else. Don’t take your health for granted and remember that you’ve only got one life. If you look after it, it’s gonna last you a lifetime. Say yeah!”