What motivates you each day as an investigative journalist?
I am motivated every day by the victims who have trusted me with their stories. Because I am an investigative Correspondent, these are victims of scams and crimes. They may have lost their life savings, their home, or even a loved one.
I am motivated by helping to shine a light on their experience and to help bring closure to them. It is an honor and privilege to help tell their stories and seek justice on their behalf.
How does it feel to be a journalist in the digital age… now with streaming being so prevalent?
Being a journalist in the digital age has its challenges. I try to be one on one with my victims, experts, or the “bad guys” in my stories whenever possible, but with the challenges from the pandemic and other travel restrictions, we have to do a lot of shoots over Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. But thank God we have this technology!
And of course, a huge part of my job is doing the research before we ever shoot one frame of video. Technology makes it so much easier to gather the information I need quickly and accurately.
How was your experience reporting for ‘Monday Night Football’?
I’d love to say it was a wonderful experience, but it wasn’t. I was hired as the sideline reporter after the executive producer told me that the role would be different… Much more feature-oriented and broader than simply injury updates and the typical question or so after the game to a player or coach. But right before the season started, they decided to make the job the traditional X’s & O’s position it had always been. My background was as a sports anchor, host, and reporter doing long-form sit-down interviews.
I had never done sidelines before and in fact, had turned down several opportunities. So I was stuck in a job that I didn’t want and wasn’t qualified for. Naturally, it didn’t work. I also had a boss who was a “screamer” which was incredibly toxic in an environment where you’re doing live television in front of millions of viewers. Someone yelling at you in an IFB is not conducive to a great performance. That, coupled with the fact that the media was brutal to me and focused on my looks, my sexuality, and “slut-shamed” me for having been a cheerleader, and model.
The criticism I took was out of bounds and way over the top. Being bullied daily in the press not based on performance but based on my image was devastating. So these things combined for a horrible experience. I was literally suicidal. Thank God I reached out to my dad and to a therapist for help. That was 17 years ago and is thankfully in my rear-view mirror, but I will never forget the pain of that experience. Obviously, I learned from it and grew from it. I can happily say that Monday Night Football was a line on my resume but certainly not the last line on my resume.
What is your advice for young and aspiring journalists?
My advice to young journalists would be to learn as many aspects of reporting as possible. Knowing how to edit and produce your own material is crucial for young reporters today! And learning how to speak with an authentic voice is critical for today’s viewers. Develop your own style and brand that sets you apart. Know who you are and deliver your authentic self to your audience.
Were there any moments in your career that helped define you?
Early in my career as a sportscaster, I was sent to a press conference when we thought Dennis Rodman would be joining the Lakers. He was late to his own press conference and in fact, there was no announcement that day. He simply wanted to see if we would show up… His words! I was furious and as a young reporter stood up and confronted him about that. He couldn’t believe he was being questioned by a young reporter like me and he furiously let me have it, started crying, and stormed off the stage!
The press conference was being carried live and sports fans across the country heard me. “Who was that girl?” Sports Illustrated did a story about how I made Dennis Rodman cry and my career was launched. I really should’ve sent him a bouquet of flowers!
What is the title of the current chapter of your life?
I’m actually writing a book about my life and career right now and hope it inspires young women in media or anyone who wants to get a closer look at what it takes to succeed in such a volatile business. I’ve been on camera for 40 years, first as a model, then an actress, a sportscaster, an entertainment reporter, a news correspondent, and finally an investigative journalist.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but each time I’ve fallen down… I found the courage to get back up and try again. Each chapter of my life and career has focused on some element of meeting and overcoming a challenge so I guess at this point the book would be called the same thing I call the keynote speeches I give: The Importance of Being Brave.
What does the word success mean to you?
To me, success means being able to wake up every day and know that you’re exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you should be doing, and accomplishing it! As a journalist, I have won dozens of awards and those are one sign of success but ultimately, when people come up to me and say that a story I did change them, touched them, or resonated deeply with them, then I know I’ve succeeded in my job as a storyteller.
I love when people say, “You’re so brave! You’ve inspired me to tap into my inner courage as well,” especially when that comes from a younger person who we’ve reached through our YouTube channel and watch my stories on their digital device. A lot of kids get bullied or feel like they can’t fight back against the injustices they see around them. But they watch my investigations, see me chasing bad guys and finding justice for a victim so they believe that they too, can fight back!
What would you like to say to your fans and followers?
To our viewers and Inside Edition fans I’d like to say “thank you!” I appreciate you taking the time to watch my investigations and to reach out to me and comment back on social media and in real life. I appreciate you trusting me to tell your stories and to help me find answers and solutions for you. I have the best job in the world and for that, I am truly grateful!