In honor of Women’s History Month in March I want to take this time to highlight women in media who are breaking barriers. Being a black woman in the media is hard because just like in any career, you have to be the best and look good while doing it all. This is for all the young ladies making their dreams come true and recognition that they deserve.
Social Media: @tiajohnsononair
Career: MMJ/Reporter in Lufkin, Texas
Quote that I live by: I honestly don’t have just one quote I live by. I have so many that encourage me, but one I love is “If all you’ve got is yourself, your job, and your relationship with God, you’ve got enough. Question is what are you going to do with it?”
How did you find your passion and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do with your life?
The funny thing is I started off college as a nursing major. It wasn’t until my junior year I decided to switch to Mass Communication (that added an extra year). I thought I wanted to one day become a nurse practitioner, but that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t happy and my grades were showing that. I decided I needed a change. I thought it would be cool to have my own TV show and then after that I went with it! I knew this was something I wanted to do. I figured the best way to get towards that was news. When I had my first internship at Fox 26 news in Houston, Texas I realized this was really for me. Even though the internship wasn’t the best it still was a way to get my feet wet and see what I was getting into!
What do you feel was the most helpful thing that jumpstarted your career?
The most helpful thing that jumpstarted my career was having internships! I can’t stress that enough. Seeing news on TV and being a part of news are two different things. Because of my internships I was able to have hands on experience and see what being a reporter was all about. The good stories, the sad stories, racial inequality, and etc. It introduced me to it all. I remember working the 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. shift during my internship at Fox. I would drive to Houston the night before or sometimes wake up early and drive to Houston from Prairie View [which is 45minutes to an hour]. That’s when I realized this is real. Lol
What does it mean to be a black woman in media to you?
To be a black woman in media means a lot. One it’s a blessing to be a black woman in media because I know this is something my ancestors probably wouldn’t have imagined. Secondly, I take it as a privilege as well. I feel like God is using me to show others it can be done. I went to Prairie View A&M University. We didn’t have a journalism program and I was completely lost on being a reporter. I didn’t have the privilege like some other reporters did. They went to a journalism school where they were actually apart of a newscast and learned something everyday about news, I didn’t, BUT here I am.
It’s a privilege to be a black woman in media. Beating the odds and looking good while doing it. Lol. Being a black woman in media is not easy. You have to work ten times harder, smarter, faster, and always look the part, but it is nothing that can’t be done.
What inspires you to keep going in this industry?
What inspires me to keep going is my relationship with God, my family and friends, and the little black girls that look at me on TV that are inspired by me. I kid you not, I did a story on an elementary girl who suffers from many heart conditions. She still smiles, goes to class, and her personality is just everything. Her name is also Tia. I exchanged numbers with her mom because I needed pictures of the young girl for my news story that day. Randomly, her mom texted me one morning and said “Girl, Tia saw you on TV and screamed. She feels like you’re her Beyonce’ and the fact that ya’ll share the same name she loves it.” That young girl didn’t know I woke up for work that day and didn’t feel like “adulting” but it was because of her that I pulled it through. It helped me realize I am not doing this for me at all. I’m doing it for the young girls that look like me.
Share something about your position or industry that you wish you would’ve known before.
What I wish I knew was to take my internships more serious. Yes, I had a few and I learned, but I didn’t apply myself as much as I should have. I sat back and watched instead of getting out there and learning how to operate a camera, write a script, and etc. Thats what I try to reiterate to interns is to do the work man. It will really prepare you for that first job and many more jobs to come.
Who are some women you look up to in the industry?
The only celebrity I look up to is Oprah. Besides that my news “sheroes” are your average reporter slaying the TV screen lol. WREG reporter, Troyla Washington, has literally helped me through it ALL. From helping me make my tape, to applying, to starting my job, she is literally my news mom lol and on top of that she’s dope! She is a great person and also a great reporter. She graduated from Prairie View A&M University as well so she understands what it’s like to grind and get to the top! KBTX reporter/anchor Whitney Miller, she helped me during my last internship. I mean I didn’t know a thing! She taught me the creativity, what a package looked like, what a VOSOT is, and literally everything! If I worked too late or a back to back shift she opened up her home to me. She asked for nothing in return, but just for me to “eat” lol. Today she is still there. She doesn’t pick up the phone a lot lol but I know she is one call away.
What has been the most difficult situation you’ve had in your career or with starting your career?
Starting my career!? OMG I wish I would’ve know what it feels like to be away from home, on your own, paying bills, isolated from family and friends, and church home. This was the hardest for me! I swear like it was my struggle especially coming from college where you have friends 24/7. It’s like I knew it was going to happen but I didn’t know how it would feel.
What’s a piece of advice you would give a girl who wants to do what you do?
I’d tell that girl number one it can be done! Keep God first no matter what! I always say you have to help God help you. You can’t ask God for that dream job and don’t put in the work! GET TO WORK, SIS!! LOL. The biggest thing in this career and life itself is your relationship with God. When your boss talks to you stupid or your coworkers make you feel less than, it’s the relationship you have with him that validates you not all the extra stuff. I’ve had rough days in news, but I know God placed me here for a reason and that’s what helps me shrug off all the negativity in the work place.
God said we are fearfully and wonderfully made and because of that whoever wants to be a black woman in media can be that if it’s according to His will. Speak positivity. The negative thoughts can slow you down. Be intentional with your work and your work ethic. You’re always preparing for the next big thing. Rather you’re in college preparing for graduation, graduated and job hunting, or have a job and you’re about to apply to the next one…stay ready so you won’t have to get ready. There will be tough days, but the good days outweigh them.