by Kristen Geez
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in media?
My first taste with the communications world was with the Boys & Girls Club in Chicago. Every Saturday we would go to Loyola University and go live with our show. It was called “Club Kids on the Radio.” We thought we were famous, our parents thought we were famous – I was just happy. I knew at a very young age I wanted to go live. I loved the rush it gave me, and I loved the candidness from it because when you go live, there are no second takes. I fell in love with communication because it was a way for me to get my point across. It gave me an opportunity to share me and who I am with the world and I am a very real person.
What steps did you take to start your career?
I knew I had to dive in if I wanted a shot in the communication world. I participated in all things communication in all my schooling. But college was really where I knew this whole on air thing could turn into something real. I joined the TV/Radio club and in a couple months I became the Station manager. I made sure I knew how everything worked during a newscast. I anchored, produced, was a writer and the stage manager. I also co-hosted a radio show on the school’s station. I made sure I knew a little about all the different facets of media. I believe that helps me today.
What are some challenges, difficulties, and hardships you’ve overcome in perusing a career in media?
The media industry is cut throat. You may think you have it, but people will be quick to let you know you don’t. The biggest challenge had to be the fact that I didn’t “fit the mold.” I don’t look like everyone else on television so getting that prime-time anchor job didn’t happen. I had to acquire a think skin. I also found another way in. I wasn’t going to give up my goal.
Where do you see yourself in the next 2 years?
I see myself with my own media powerhouse business. No longer working for everyone else and covering what I am told to cover but covering the stories I want to share. I see myself helping women talk about their hardships and triumphs. I know I was sent here to tell the stories no one else wants to. I also see myself established in Miami with a powerful networking group of women that are all about helping other women. I see myself sharing my mission to change the perception of beauty when it comes to what is accepted in the media world.
How important is it to have a mentor? Who’s yours?
I do not really have a mentor, yet. I look up to many women in my industry at the moment. There isn’t one that I can specifically call my mentor. Together, all the women that I admire, inspire me in many different ways. I believe you can learn so much from surrounding yourself with intelligent women who represent both brains and beauty.
How can a woman tell the difference between someone that wants to help her verses someone who wants to use her?
Being used is tough to decipher. It’s happened to me and I did not notice when it did. A lot of women will disguise using you as “collaboration.” In order to assess if this is happening to you: Step back, put the entire situation in perspective and ask yourself what benefits have you received from working with this person. If you are giving more than you are taking, chances are you’re being used.
What advice would you give to a woman who doesn’t believe in herself?
I would tell her someone else does. Believing in yourself is no easy task, especially these days. There is so much pressure to be perfect and popular, it’s easy to lose your sense of self. As women, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to self-esteem and taking ourselves seriously. I would say: think about why you started and apply that same momentum to starting again.
What advice would you give to a woman who thinks “She’s not pretty, skinny or bright enough” to have a career in media?
I would say: join me in my mission of “changing the perception of beauty.” We need to fight together and change what is beautiful when it comes to who is on television every morning and every night. As women, we are shaped differently, built differently. Our flaws are different. We need to celebrate that not try to cover it up. Let’s fight to help little minority girls see they too could be on television. At times they are the smartest ones with the most raw talent in the room.
Is it true that women have to compete in order to advance in their careers?
There isn’t anything wrong with a little friendly competition. It helps keep everyone motivated. We do not need to compete with one another to make it to the top. We need to stay in our lanes and accept that sometimes, someone is better and that’s okay. Instead of wanting to take her down, we should ask her how she did it and learn why she is better. Do they put in real work and time while you always cut corners and take shortcuts? A win for one of us should be a win for all of us.
List one thing every woman needs to learn on her journey in becoming a career minded woman?
Be brave. I’ve had some tough experiences being a young, minority woman in media. I’ve had people tell me some unbelievable things. I had to stand up for myself. I had enough. Standing up for yourself is imperative and believing in yourself with confidence.
How important is your reputation to your career?
If you’re going to fight the righteous fight, you need live, eat and breath what you’re fighting for. Your reputation is your credibility. I’m not saying what you did in the past should haunt you forever, I’m just saying believe in what you put out.
How can women start to empower one another?
Women can start empowering by being honest with each other. It sounds simple enough, but it isn’t. There is an abundant amount of fake women empowerment being spread around. Honestly, we need to focus on creating real relationships and not just photos for Instagram.