While based in the greater metro-Detroit area I worked for WDIV-TV, an NBC affiliate. The show I was on "Live in the D," covered everything from breaking national and international news to feature segments on local businesses. Being on a rising show, not even a year old, I found that my responsibilities and opportunities were wide-ranging. Each morning I aided with the production of the show, working closely with Jay Kuhlman, the executive producer. From sending me out to coordinate live shots to marking rundowns, I was immersed in the dynamics of the show. After the show was over each day, I researched, pitched and booked stories, segments and guests for upcoming shows. Once Jay left at 3pm, I would go out on video shoots with Michelle Oliver, the video journalist for "Live in the D", Guy Gordon and/or Karen Drew, the anchors for the show. from shooting video packages, finding new stories and conducting interviews, I found refining my journalistic skill set in every possible way. With this schedule, there was no typical day. Each day I entered the office, I was presented a new challenge and opportunity.
As a native New Yorker, this summer I had a lot of people inquire “why Detroit”. When I say I love New York, an abundance of near-magical images enters a mind to help my case. City blocks chock full of unique restaurants, opportunity bubbling through the sidewalk cracks, blinding light at any time of night, a city of beautiful contradictions. It can be hopeless yet welcoming, daunting but exhilarating. It has a character that is impossibly enchanting. Once you break that stale spell, it molds itself around your own character and you grow.
Detroit is grit. It’s character does not mold or crack or bend. It bounds through obstacles and refuses to fall. When all people see is blight, they forget to look for the fire. It is full of opportunity bubbling at the corners but too few people to fill them. I was captivated, completely entranced by this resilient city. It was so unlike anything else, so much potential and passion engraved in it’s history, projected in it’s future.
Big Sean Interview
“Sometimes I dream bigger than I live.”
I must have committed that song to a 4 month long memory of last summer, a summer that was full of missing Michigan although I was back in New York. I reminisced in the friends and experiences I had during my first, fantastic year at U of M. Most of all I thought a lot about how much I had grown in that one year. The culmination of my growth was the realization that there was no wavering doubt I wanted to be a journalist. From that summer on I knew I was married to a career that would demand constantly dreaming past my present.
A year later I scrolled past a story listed under the Channel 4’s assignment desk’s tab in iNews. The story was about Detroit native Big Sean visiting his hometown for a charity event. I pitched it to Jay, Live in the D’s producer, and he told me to keep an eye on it. We’d most likely have a reporter cover it for the regular news.
A few weeks later
The event was approaching and I brought it up to Jay again. He suggested I may be able to shadow the reporter covering the event, but I had to come in morning side (3am to 12pm). I was ecstatic. I’d just go to sleep as soon as I went home, get up early (I’d done it before for the Biden story) and get to watch Big Sean’s coverage with Channel 4, I thought. Later that day Jay gave me a call to let me know Lauren Podell, the reporter supposed to cover the event, had to fill in anchor for Live in the D. So she could no longer go. I recall my heart sinking and rationalizations flooding into my head. Jay continued to say, however, since I seemed well-versed and had been chasing the story, he wanted me to cover it instead. Up until that moment, I will admit, even I had not dared to dream that much bigger than I was living.
I went home, prepped by listening to Big Sean’s music from earliest to latest, most of which I had already heard, writing down several questions, researching his recent charity initiatives and watching his past interviews. I awoke the next morning never feeling more ready, excited and nervous only about the absence of any nerves. I learned an incredible amount out with Jim the photog that day. Firstly, the moment I stepped into a reporter’s shoes, my sky-high heels have never felt more comfortable. Really though, gel inserts aside, I felt myself slip into my element and Jim noticed too. The highest compliment I received was Jim telling me he felt as if he had been out with a reporter today, certainly not an intern. One of the defining moments he realized this was in my affinity for scouting out interviews and doing my research. One predominant theme of Big Sean’s music was his mother’s positive influence on him. Thus, as soon as I spotted Myra Anderson I went out of my way to introduce myself and established a connection- we were both Michigan Wolverines. Jim immediately saw the potential I was scouting and we grabbed an interview with her in which she was so overwhelmed by the positive attention her and her son were receiving, she cried (of joy, thank god, I would be an awful person if I made Big Sean’s mother cry otherwise). Afterwards, a few other channels tried to swoop in to grab an interview, but she was promptly whisked away.
As for meeting Big Sean: even the biggest of stars are made of flesh and blood. He was kind, eloquent, responsive both in and out of the interview. Even with the setbacks of children flooding the area and a small window for a live shot, he patiently and honestly conducted the interview with me before leaving the public school. He spoke about his experiences as a child at Cass Tech, why school was so important to him, his mother and his music. Being at the center of hundreds of school children, staff, media, it was surprisingly easy for me to slip into a comfortable, candid conversation with the A-list hip hop artist. I constantly revisit the video package I editing together using the interviews and b-roll from that day. I often find myself opening back up the project to add in a piece of NAT-SND, smoothen a transition, add or delete quotes among many other edits to polish this piece to it's full potential. Currently, I am speaking with Channel 4 about the proper graphics and accreditation to be included. I hope to post the piece as soon as possible.
Anna Wintour and Bruce Weber Visit the DIA
Firstly, she was not wearing Prada. Secondly, she was no devil but a kind, elegant and well-spoken interviewee. And lastly, she made it clear this was not about her but about Bruce, and most importantly about Detroit. Alongside Channel 4's style editor Jon Jordan, this opportunity to shoot Wintour and Weber's visit to Detroit was incredibly enlightening. As I mic-ed up the photography guru, introduced myself to the fashion icon and perused the incredible portraits of Detroit natives, I immersed myself in the talent around me.
This is a piece I created while in Cape Town, South Africa. I was inspired by the amazing one-man-band MMJs I worked with at WDIV.I stumbled across this piece by serendipity and was determined to put together a package on Zameka and Toto's story. I gathered what equipment I could that day which included a DSLR camera and GoPro that I had with me at the time. I shot the material with this at hand and recorded audio on my iphone. I synced the footage to the audio in post-pro and edited it on Adobe Premiere CC. I learned an immense amount and, even when I wasn't supposed to be working, my determination to capture any riveting story I come across took over.=
WDIV-TV Reporting Reel
This still stands as my favorite story I have done to this day. Camp Michitanki is a camp designed for children with organ transplants. It enables these kids to have a true camp experience, unsheltered and unhindered by the sterilized world they have grown so accustomed to. This camp allows them to dip their heads beneath the water, feel the sand in between their toes and stay up late with their cabin mates. What made this story so compelling though was a single quote that resonated with me long after we had packed up our camera.
We were interviewing Leroy, a cherubic young boy who couldn't quite wrap his mouth around his r's but who's watery blue eyes reflected maturity far beyond his six years. We asked him about his 'superhero' name, a curious contrast to the "Hulks" and "Supermans" surrounding him. Who's name was it?
"It was the girl who gave me my heart. She did not just die, she saved my life."