At just 14 years old, Evie Roberts is breaking barriers and challenging perceptions through her podcast ‘Talking in the Dark’.

Born with bilateral anophthalmia, a condition where the eyes do not develop, Evie wears two prosthetic eyes and is on a mission to remove the stigma surrounding blindness and visual impairment .

And she’s doing a good job of it.

Inspired by her drama teacher at Ballakermeen High School, Stephen Craige, who recognised the power of her voice, Evie has embarked on a podcast journey. But it took some convincing at the start.

14-year-old Evie Roberts (centre), host of the Talking in the Dark podcast, with her mum Hayley Roberts (right) and Stephen Craige, head of drama and performing arts at Ballakermeen High School
14-year-old Evie Roberts (centre), host of the Talking in the Dark podcast, with her mum Hayley Roberts (right) and Stephen Craige, head of drama and performing arts at Ballakermeen High School (Media Isle of Man )

Growing up Evie faced difficulty but her mum Hayley Roberts explained that the entire family is super proud of the young woman she has become.

Hayley said: ‘When I was pregnant with Evie I didn’t know she was going to be born blind so it was a complete shock.

‘We’ve just found our way together really, it’s not that you can’t do something it’s just that you have to learn to do it a little bit differently.’

Evie went to Cronk-y-Berry Primary School and then moved up to Ballakermeen.

This is where she first properly met head of drama and performing arts Stephen, but neither could anticipate the bond that would be formed and what the future looked like.

Evie said: ‘I briefly met him (Stephen) in Year 6 when doing my transition to high school and also he came into our primary school to do a workshop, so I did know of him before, but in Year 7 he became my drama teacher.’

Stephen told us his initial thoughts of Evie.

He said: ‘Evie’s an incredibly talented person and she collaborates really well with other people.

‘I didn’t have to make any special consideration for Evie being in the class because Evie just took to it. It was a privilege to work with her.’

Stephen is a self-admitted ‘podcast nut’, saying ‘it’s one of my things’ and he suggested the idea of Evie starting one of her own.

He said: ‘I’m a massive fan of podcasts and have been for ages, but I’m also big into the voice. I have a big interest and knowledge about people’s voices.

‘The thing I was most struck with when I met Evie was her voice. It chimed out to me, it’s just beautiful.

‘I remember thinking that would be something else for a podcast!

‘I asked Evie very early on when I met her had she ever thought about doing a podcast.

‘And I was pretty persistent!’.

Evie said she was relatively shy in Year 7 and didn’t have that many good friendships.

‘If I don’t have that many friendships how am I meant to do a podcast?’ She said.

‘Over the years I generally got more and more confident and got into a good friend group and that helped me, and by the time I was 13 I thought I could do this!’

The pair haven’t looked back.

From humble beginnings, the podcast has grown exponentially, attracting high-profile guests such as renowned actor and author Stephen Fry, comedian Rosie Jones, and most recently music icon Nile Rodgers.

With helps from her teacher, Evie now has a podcast studio in one of the drama rooms at Ballakermeen, allowing her to welcome guests in or contact them via Zoom call.

Through candid conversations and insightful interviews, Evie sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, including visual impairments, all while highlighting their resilience and achievements.

And if she’s not already done enough, Evie is looking forward and is excited to see where her podcast can go.

She said: ‘I’m loving just taking it from strength to strength, it’s like riding a rollercoaster and we’ll see where it takes us. See what guests we get, see what opportunities come out of it and maybe even have a career in radio.’