New York TV host, reporter and producer Ernabel Demillo will be sharing tips and insights on how to become an award-winning journalist to global Pinoys participating in the PH Time is Now mentoring summit.
Demillo has been hosting the 6-time Emmy-award nominated show “Asian American Life” at CUNY-TV since 2013. The monthly in-depth news magazine program addresses topical issues affecting the Asian American communities nationwide and profiles Asian American leaders.
The Filipino-American journalist is a tenured professor of Journalism at St. Peter’s University in New Jersey.
Demillo was born to Filipino parents and did her B.A. in journalism at the University of Southern California. She completed her M.S. in Journalism from Northern University’s Medical school of Journalism.
The award-winning journalist worked her way into the newsroom and now she’s paying it forward through mentoring and will be one of the 20 inspiring Filipino innovators at the PH Time is Now gathering.
Here are Demillo’s insights as told on the Ph Time is Now Stories:
Dreams are easy; it’s working at making them a reality that’s hard.
When I was 12 years old, I told my dad that I wanted to become a television reporter and I think it’s because I love to read and tell stories. I especially love the idea of telling stories through video.
I’ve always been goal-oriented. When I set a goal, I’m the type of person who would do everything to achieve it. So, when my dad told me that the best school for broadcast journalism was the University of Southern California, it was the only school that I wanted to attend.
When I finally graduated from USC with a degree in International Relations and Journalism, I realized that it was going to be tough getting a job. It wasn’t just in television though, it was the whole country at that time. There was a recession and I was starting to get disheartened.
I sent out tape after tape after tape to television stations across the country and I was getting rejected left and right. No one was willing to give me a chance because everyone wanted you to have experience. How are you going to get experience if no one’s going to give it to you? That’s when I decided to go to graduate school.
Again, I had a goal. I chose the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University because it had a very strong television program, which meant that I had to move from California to Chicago.
Soon after graduate school, I got my first job in television. I was working 17-hour days and had no family or friends near me. Also, I didn’t get paid that much. I didn’t have weekends and had to work during every single holiday. It was a really lonely life.
These days, I hear people say that they want to be a reporter, a journalist and a filmmaker, but they don’t completely realize the kind of hard work and sacrifice that come with the profession. They just want to be successful right away.
Don’t be afraid to start out small or to make mistakes.
I love to ask the young people that I mentor who want to be television reporters, “Are you willing to move to a small city or a small town where you could pay your dues and make your mistakes?”
You have to start somewhere. You have to hone your craft and practice to get better. You can’t expect, for instance, someone starting out to say, “You know what? I think I’m going to try out for the New York Knicks.”
Think about how much practice it takes to be good. It’s the same for whether you’re a basketball player, a journalist, a photographer or a filmmaker – you have to pay your dues.
I remember when I first graduated, I thought I was the bomb because I earned my degree from a good school. My first job was a reality check. A producer named Debra used to rip up my scripts. She would take what I had written and pretty much redo everything. Until then, I thought I was a good writer, a good producer and a good reporter.
I was terrible, but what was great about starting small was that I was able to make all those mistakes and work on my craft.
I watched people that I admired in the field – how they would ask questions and how they put stories together. I also started reading magazines, books and memoirs to further my knowledge. That’s how I learned. That’s how I got better.
No matter what stage in life you are in, there’s a lot of learnings in teaching.
One thing that I wish I had growing up is a mentor. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t seek one out. This is why I mentor now.
When I moved to New York, I joined the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and started mentoring young reporters to help them navigate the world of journalism and network news. I wanted them to see in me someone who’ve experienced the things that they’re currently experiencing.
When I talk about mentoring, I’m not just talking about the formal kind where you have to meet regularly. As a mentor, I want to be someone you could call, text or email when you have questions about a job, about living in New York and even about relationships.
When I mentor, I learn a lot about myself because suddenly, I can see myself through someone else’s eyes. With mentoring, the learning is never a one-way street.
Find inspiration in Ernabel and other Filipino-American leaders as they share their personal stories of learning, growth and success at Time Is Now: A Networking and Mentoring Event on June 9, 2018 at the Harvard Club in NYC.
You’ll also get the chance to meet, engage and collaborate with fellow innovators and changemakers; and take part in building a community of global Filipinos with substance, purpose and impact.
GoodNewsPilipinas.com is a media partner of PH Time Is Now.