This interview was featured in Rolling Out:
When Richelle Carey was a little girl growing up in Houston, she had an uncanny affinity for the local news. She would sit and watch TV with”PaPa” when she was only 5-years-old, fascinated by the people who were discussing current events.
An only child, Carey initially thought she would follow in her parents’ foot steps and land a career in the field of medicine or even become an attorney. But she was preoccupied by the memories of her childhood heroes, the local news anchors on Eyewitness News 13 who had captivated her young mind.
A transfer student from Smith College, Carey made the tough decision to go with her passion and pursue her bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and minor in political science at Baylor University.
Following her passion paid off for the southern belle. She’s planted her flag in broadcast journalism and is hosting her own show, “What Matters.”
Tell us about your show, “What Matters.”
It’s the segment that we’ve been doing for three years. What I like to think my platform is women’s issues, girl’s issues, or generally speaking, people that I feel are marginalized or don’t always have a voice. It is not always minorities — it can be poor people, black or white, women or girls. If there’s an opportunity to shift the conversation from what it has traditionally been, then that’s an opportunity that I have to take. Or, if I need to highlight that “yes, we are all equal but we are not the same and all of our struggles aren’t the same,” then I need to take that opportunity.
Who do you admire in this industry?
I grew up thinking the late Peter Jennings was just the coolest [and] smart. I also admire Diane Sawyer and Bernard Shaw, especially Diane. She’s brilliant and she happens to be pretty. She’s not good at her job because she’s pretty and she doesn’t trade off the fact that “I am pretty.” She came by this the hard way, by working really hard at it and by knowing things. I think she’s fantastic.
This week, we witnessed Oprah’s retirement from daytime talk. How does that make you feel?
Why are you making me talk about this? You’re going to make me cry. Gosh, there are so many things that she stands for. She’s the perfect example of being true to yourself can also go with being successful. She has been very open about her life experiences and people connected to that. She could have been on a completely different path when you look at the way her life began. I think people can learn from that. Regardless of what your circumstances are, it still comes down to the choices that you make. The bigger lesson is that if you are true to yourself, you can be rewarded.
There’s your segment, “What Matters” and there’s Soledad O’Brien’s “Black in America,” how do you feel about the direction CNN is going in with their programming?
I think it’s fantastic. To have healthy conversations about race, it can’t just be black people talking about it. To move forward in women’s issues, it can’t just be women talking about it all the time. I think it’s powerful that I am able to do these segments on HLN and CNN, where they are reaching beyond a [single, group discussion]. I think that to make progress with these issues, you have to bring everyone into the conversation … a diverse audience.
What can we do to further the conversation about racial equality?
Broaden the conversation. Invite other people to the conversation, that’s how you make change. Don’t look to be offended or be overly defensive because in those conversations, people may say some painful things. Let your guard down a little bit.
Do you travel to get stories?
I will cover Essence Festival, again, this year. Last year, I interviewed Janet Jackson. I love her, she’s awesome. There’s a lot to admire about here. There’s a lot [about her] that people can relate to. She’s very kind.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I had a college professor, who, when I told him I was changing my major, he really tried to talk me out of it. I told him that I wanted to do TV. He said, ‘You can learn TV, that’s fine. It is more important to know things, to be knowledgeable.’ His point was to be knowledgeable in everything that you do. It’s great that I have this platform, but if you don’t know anything then what will you do with this platform?
Who are your current heroes?
My parents. The older you get, the more you realize, “Oh my gosh, this was amazing what my parents were able to do for me.” I realize it as I get older.
How do you give back?
I hope I am giving back in the way that I frame conversations and stories on “What Matters.” Also, I am a board member of Men Stopping Violence, which aims to engage men in ending violence against violence. My main platform is women’s issues. I am about to get involved with the Girl Scouts as well.
Tune in to HLN to catch Carey’s pretty face and bright smile every weekday at 4 p.m. EST (NOW 3pm ET). –yvette caslin