Shortly after being named E! News newest correspondent last year, I had the opportunity to interview Zuri Hall about her journey to becoming a host for one of the top networks in Hollywood.
The Ohio State University alum opened up about getting her first break into television when she became the face of a local TV station in Indianapolis called MyINDY-TV after graduating in 2010. From there, the Emmy-winning journalist went on to work at local television stations in Ohio and Texas, before finding her way to New York and becoming the co-host of the music countdown show Trending 10 on Fuse TV. Afterward, she served as a host for various network specials on MTV before joining the E! News family in July 2015.
Hall’s journey of perseverance, risk and hard work is beyond commendable, but it’s the humbling story behind her Emmy win that let’s us all know why we have to invest in our dreams before anyone else will.
Check out a snippet of my interview below, which originally appeared BlackEnterprise.com.
A year after graduating college you won your first Emmy. How did that come about and what project was it for?
Hall: That was for my work as the face of MyINDY-TV. So it was a regional Emmy and it was a prime example of just believing in yourself and thinking you deserve some sort of nomination or recognition. I don’t think a lot of people realize it’s one of those things you have to pay for to even be considered for nomination, and just because you pay doesn’t mean you will be nominated and you will not get your money back. So even though I was young and new to the industry and money was not something I had a lot of, I decided to invest in myself and put that money up to see if they thought my work was worthy of a nomination, and the academy did. My peers decided I was worthy of the nomination and then we went to the awards ceremony and they called my name and I couldn’t believe [it]. At that point I was doing local news for one year, if that, and that was sort of my first major lesson on believing in myself and taking that chance when no one else would. If you don’t bet on yourself, who will?
Fast-forward to today and you’re the new correspondent for E! News. How did this opportunity come about?
Yes, E! News has been a long time in the making for me honestly. Everyone thinks it happened overnight, but it was so not like that. Actually, the first time I ever met with E! News was a few years ago. I came [to Los Angeles] and slept on a friend’s floor because I couldn’t afford a hotel. I took the bus to my meeting and it was just a general meeting. It wasn’t like a ‘We have a job for you.’ It was just like, ‘Hey, we’re happy to meet you and put a face to a name.’ So I took the bus down there to meet with them and they were really nice and we hit it off and that was that. I went back to the Midwest and that really just fueled my fire to get back there and have a meeting that would lead to something major.
I worked in the local news market for a few years, and then we got back to talking and exploring and one thing just led to another. I have an amazing agent, amazing lawyer, and the team that I have surrounded myself with is so young and ambitious and hungry too. So they really helped to connect [everything] for me.
With thousands of social media followers and a thriving blog, how have you been able to use the internet to elevate your brand?
I love the internet. It has been my greatest tool because when other people wouldn’t give me the power or the platform to let my voice be heard, the Internet did. I decided to get on YouTube a couple of years ago, not as my bread and butter, but I just wanted an opportunity to have a direct connection to my fans and supporters. So I got on and the more videos I made, the more I fell in love with it because I realized I was being my truest self online and my supporters and subscribers responded to that.
When it comes to my blog, the #AlphaBabe movement is really about inspiring and encouraging young ambitious women. So not just saying ‘you can do it,’ but giving them the tools to show them how to do it.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into television, but has no clue how to break into the industry?
Go to ZuriHall.com and check out the #AlphaBabe blog because a lot of stuff that I say there are honestly the steps I have taken. I have a blog post talking about tips for an aspiring TV host. One of my biggest things, especially in this day and age, is to always encourage aspiring talent to create their own content. The way you stand out is [by] bringing your own fresh perspective. We all have these various backgrounds, so all of our opinions are formed by different struggles; take that and own it and sharpen your craft. That way when you walk into a room with these big executives, they think you have a voice that people want to hear.