News anchor and reporter Angela Rae was at the Lowe Art Museum last Thursday to give a speech entitled “African-Americans in the Media” in honor of Black Awareness Month [BAM].
“The event nurtured an appreciation for the African-American community, especially since it is Black Awareness Month,” Nanette Vega, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs [MSA] and event organizer, said.
“I came to support,” Kandace Ezell, a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Theater, said. “There are not a lot of African-Americans who come out and speak.”
About 20 students and faculty members were in attendance for Rae’s speech.
“I don’t like giving speeches, so we’re just going to talk,” Rae said at the beginning of her speech.
Rae got her B.B.A. in Finance and International Business from the University of Texas but never expected to go into the television industry, although in tenth grade her history teacher advised her that she should be an anchor.
After graduating, Rae went to law school at the University of Virginia but realized she had no interest in practicing law.
“I thought about being a music agent because I loved making people’s dreams come true,” she said.
According to Rae, that aspiration didn’t work out either because she was informed that a part of the job would entail being in smoky bars, something she couldn’t stand.
It was in 1994 that she began her anchoring career in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1995, she became a co-anchor at the CBS-owned WFOR- TV in Miami and went on to solo anchor a weekend newscast the following year. In 1999, she was named lead anchor of the station’s weekday newscasts.
She remained in that position until August 2000, when she moved to New York to co-anchor at CBS’ flagship station, WCBS-TV.
Rae says that, for her, it is very hard being a public figure because she is a very private person. She also spoke about how tough the industry is and shared a piece of a conversation she had with Oprah Winfrey about dealing with tabloids.
“Did they spell your name right and put a pretty picture in the paper? That’s all that matters,” was Winfrey’s advice to Rae.
The bulk of Rae’s speech revolved around the events of 9/11 and the possibility of war with Iraq.
“I was on the Upper-East side of Manhattan packing to leave home for Texas,” she said, reminiscing of the morning of 9/11. “I ran into work and worked all day.”
She says that it wasn’t until around midnight that she left and walked down the streets of Manhattan.
“It was an eerie feeling,” she said. “It was like a ghost town.”
Rae also expressed her feelings toward the current situation with Iraq.
“They told me to prepare for an attack, but they didn’t say how,” she said.
“I don’t understand what’s going on in this world,” she said. “I’m confused and I’m in the media.”
Rae also tied in the issues facing current society with the Civil Rights Movement.
“Martin Luther King Jr. would be ashamed and appalled,” she said. “There is just no love in this world.”
Rae stressed that society needs to have love and respect for other cultures and says that she does charity work by trying to motivate children. She said the best part of her job is speaking with kids and young adults.
“She was really great,” Ezell said. “She was very colorful and animated.”
Other students felt very similar in regards to Rae’s presentation.
“It was very insightful because I’m thinking about going into TV as a meteorologist,” freshman Jasmine James said.
Rae repeatedly told the audience that it wasn’t her purpose to talk about these political issues, but that it was something she had been thinking a lot about lately.
“This was like free therapy to talk about what was on my mind,” Rae said.
Angelique Thomas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org