WRAL News Anchor, Mikaya Thurmond / NC

Updated: 5 days ago






Hello Faithful Readers,

I hope this month’s edition of the Black Bird’s Eye View finds you well and in good spirit. This month I will be introducing you to a woman who exudes the art of achievement. I found her to be motivating in a way that is all but contagious. Sit back and enjoy this most informative Q & A with WRAL News Anchor, Mikaya Thurmond.

Q.

Are you a native of North Carolina?

A.

I was born and raised in Atlanta Georgia. I’ve lived in North Carolina for about four years now.

Q

How did you end up in North Carolina?

A.

Work. You know the industry. There is a lot of travel. My first job was in Chattanooga Tennessee. After I completed my contract there, I got an offer from WRAL to be a reporter. WRAL had been a dream station for me so I said, “absolutely,” At the end of my reporting contract I got an offer to be an anchor at WRAL here in North Carolina. That was an even bigger dream, so I said, “absolutely” again and that is where we are today.

Q.

How would family and friends describe you as a child?

A.

A performer. I would say that they would say that Mikaya has always been a performer and full of personality. If you got to the people who were even closer to me, they would tell you stories of me always being on stage. I have always been obsessed with the stage and performing in front of people, so you saw that in me at a very early age.

By the time I was 5 I had my own television show called “About Kids with Mikaya” on public access television in Atlanta. I was always in the studio with a guest. I did it for about two or three years… it’s hard to remember now. I learned what camera to look at and what the red light means and when the camera is on and how to present myself

Q

Would you say that your passion for performing stems from a family member?

A.

Absolutely. My dad is a politician and has been in politics since the day I was born. He has done a variety of different jobs, so he was always like, “You need to go to law school and go into politics as well.” While he was getting interviewed, I would see the interviewee with the microphone and the lights and I’d think to myself, “That is what I want to do.” So, from the outside, everyone would think “Oh it’s her dad, that’s where she gets it from, but my mom was a radio host and a television host. She has been in media for forever. So, there is definitely "performance" in my blood. I have always been accustomed to being in the spotlight in one way or another.

Q.

In high school were you one of those students who excelled?

A.

I was never the smartest kid in class, but I always had the most personality. My parents didn’t put that much pressure on me either because I was balancing a lot by the time I got to high school. By that time, I had started doing pageantry. When you win, that become a job in and of itself. With all that I was balancing the expectation from my parents was like “She’s balancing a lot and doing community service and a lot of national and international travel." They cut me the slack that I needed to be able to do what I committed myself to do.

Q.

Was pageantry something that you gravitated towards. How did you end up in that arena?

A.

We got a flyer in the mail when I was 15 that said, “You Could Win a Trip to Disney World.” I was like, “How freaky would that be?” So, I did my first pageant. I won Ms. Georgia Junior Teen and I thought, “This is cool.” I didn’t win any national titles on the first run, but I got a chance to see what it was all about and practice public speaking, learn poise and what it means to be a woman.

Q.

So, you are in high school busier than most of the teachers there... going into your senior year did you know what you wanted to do with your life? Did you see yourself being a News Anchor for WRAL doing this dream job? Did you see it? Is this what you planned?

A.

Absolutely not. In my heart, I wanted to be a performer but at that point, I was saying I wanted to be a doctor. While doing pageants the other girls would say they wanted to be a journalist or host the “Today Show” so I decided to look into the field and the more I learned the more I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I picked my college based on the journalism program because it would allow me the accessibility to get that training.

Q.

Where did you attend college and did anything noteworthy take place during those years?

A.

At the University of Georgia. Travel. I did a lot of traveling. I won Miss Georgia International (International Junior Miss) and Miss. International Teen (2010). The amount of travel that came with that was absolutely incredible. I didn’t even do an internship in journalism until I had gotten out of college because I was studying for a degree in Journalism, a minor in Spanish, and also doing a program at the business school so I was very busy in undergrad.

(Bachelor of Arts in Digital and Broadcast Journalism, University of Georgia, 2012 Spanish Minor, University of Georgia, 2012)

Q.

Where did you do your apprenticeship?

A.

It was like a summer radio thing at a radio station. After graduation, I did my first real apprenticeship. It was with an NBC Affiliate in Atlanta. I did that for about three months. It was my first job on television. That’s when I started figuring out the hustle…. that’s what I call it. If you want to get somewhere, as a black woman you are going to have to outwork, outlast, and out think your peers in order to earn a seat at the table. I had always been, for my grade, a year younger than the people I went to school with. I started school a year early. So, when I went to college, I was 17 years old and when I graduated, I was only 21 years old, so I just knew I had to hustle. I made friends with the people who were on the crew and on the weekend, they stayed late to let me practice at the anchor desk. So, I’d come in at 2 am before the news started to practice my reel, or essentially my resume. It was the coaching of these people behind the scene and their willingness to let me practice that allowed me to get to a high market very quickly.

Then I got a call from Chattanooga Tennessee to become a reporter at WTVC-TV . Chattanooga was especially meaningful to me because my mom is from Chattanooga. I had a Grandma there…Aunt…Cousin...so I spent the next two years there. On a personal note at that time my Grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and it was the end of her life. To be in the town where she was and to be able to work in a way that I was able to spend time with her just means the world to me. I would say that if I never made any progress in my career, but I still got to be in Chattanooga during that time... I still would have to say it was priceless.

Then WRAL called. WRAL is a mammoth station compared to Chattanooga. All my mentors from Atlanta and the people I looked up to had stopped at WRAL during their career. I always said if I could get to WRAL that would be an easy way for me to progress my career. I could see that people were growing when they got there. WRAL made the offer and I raced to move to Raleigh. It was an incredible experience. I’m not saying it was easy. When you are at WRAL this is the real deal and the pursuit of excellence is phenomenal. It was a lot of honing and training my skills. I ultimately got to the end of my three-year reporting contract. Up until that point I had been a fill in. Nobody saw me as an Anchor. To be totally transparent, I am young. I am young to look at and that works against me in a market where there are a lot of older people who must look at me as a serious trustworthy news person. WRAL saw something in me that I will never be able to thank them enough for. When they offered me the opportunity to Anchor, I just couldn’t believe it. Let me add something, those three years I was reporting, I was a morning reporter. That meant waking up at 2 am before the sun even remotely comes up. In addition to that, I was in graduate school at Harvard. WRAL helped to cover the cost and were lenient and set me up to succeed. I was doing all of that for the full three years while I was working overnight full time.

Q.

What did you study at Harvard?

A.

I studied Journalism and Religions of the World. I graduated this past May

(Master of Liberal Arts in Journalism, Harvard University, Extension School, 2018

Certificate in Religions of the World, Harvard University, Extension School, 2018)

Q.

What has been most rewarding about working as a News Anchor for WRAL

A.

Being afforded the opportunity to attend Harvard and the way that WRAL supported me in my personal development. It was something that personally meant a lot to me

Q

This is a question I ask everyone I interview...no matter the industry: If you were placed in a position where you could speak to the masses without any communication barriers and bestow three jewels upon the masses...that is... tell them three things that would better mankind...what three things would you share? No answer is right or wrong or too long or too short.

A.

  1. God is Key and King. My faith is the only Anchor that has kept me totally on track. It is a crazy world that we all live in. My faith is deeply rooted in me. In my profession, I sometimes see the worst of the worse. I see things that people should never see at crime scenes. So, you must have faith and understand your purpose…what God has called for you to do.

  2. You are not in this world alone. That’s what my Mom always says. You have got to build a support system around you because the only way you can grow is through the wisdom you surround yourself with. That is critical.

  3. Hustle. We are all dealt a different hand of cards and the only thing that matters is how we are willing to overcome them. I am the granddaughter of a man who could not read or write who could not help my Father. My Father then raised a daughter who graduated from Harvard and now works in a field that requires me to be an exceptional reader and writer…with a one generation difference. That just tells me that what you see for your future and generational investments will dictate whether you end up repeating a cycle.

· For more information about Mikaya Thurmond: https://www.wral.com/rs/bio/14555607

· Follow Mikaya of Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/WRALMikayaThurmond

This concludes my interview with Mikaya Thurmond. Until next time Be Well and Be Mindful.

Always, Robin





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