No matter how far away, stars always shine!

26 02 2011

Nneka Elliott isn't letting race or gender hinder her rise to the top.

Good looking, intelligent, warm personality and a great sense of humour. Nneka Elliott is well on her way to having it all. And did I mention that she has her own Wikipedia entry? If dictionaries came with photographic entries, the 27-year-old’s face would appear alongside the word ‘amazing’.

Nneka currently works at CP24 News in Toronto; donning the multi-feathered cap of weather specialist, reporter and news anchor. Prior to that, she was employed as a reporter/anchor at CFRB Newstalk 1010AM, and a weather broadcaster with The Weather Network. Her first foray into broadcasting came as a weekend host for a music/talk show at Hitz FM radio station in St. Vincent.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television from Ryerson University under her belt, it was inevitable that Nneka would pursue a career in this field. But by no means has that afforded her the luxury of an easy ride.

“This is a very competitive and, at times, ruthless industy,” she revealed. “You’ve got to have thick skin [because] there will be a lot of doors closing in your face.

“Early on in my career, the biggest challenge was racking up enough experience to get a full time job. But of course it’s a catch 22 – you need experience to get experience!”

Despite this, it’s obvious that Nneka loves every minute of being a television personality.

“I’ve always loved to perform… and tell stories,” she reminisced. “I used to orchestrate make-believe call in radio shows, cooking shows and countless tv talk show from the age of about six.”

She chuckled at the memory.

But in today’s fast-paced society, Nneka said that the challenge now is to stay relevant.

“The broadcast platform is… changing due to the introduction of social media. People are getting their information from non-traditional sources. I’m always reading; always trying to learn more to stay current.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And what about ethnicity? As a Black female in a predominantly white country, do any problems arise?

“Yes, Black people are still under-represented on television in Canada – both in front of and behind the camera. Then, of course, there is the idea of the glass ceiling for women.

“But you know what? I don’t focus on those things. I focus on my performance… make sure that I always do my best.”

And that she is! Nneka has been fortunate enough to interview high profile celebrities including actors Danny Glover and Brendan Fraser, and country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus.

Born in Montreal but raised in SVG, Nneka is the product of schooling at the Kingstown Preparatory School, Girls’ High School and the SVG Community College.

With a keen interest in people and societal issues, she once considered becoming a psychologist or an anthropologist.

“I have a particular interest in women’s issues, especially issues that affect young girls.”

And how about that ten-year plan?

“Well, the 10-year plan seems to be changing everyday,” she laughed. “Three years ago I had a better idea of where I was going to be in 10 years time… as I get older that vision is getting somewhat blurry!

“One thing is for sure, I want to have a greater platform to educate, entertain and hopefully inspire others.”

Nneka explained that she wants to do more to help girls gain more self-respect, and understand the importance of loving themselves and each other.

“I’ve thought of developing a ‘not for profit’ organisation focusing on that type of thing.”

She’s also full of advice for those interested in following a similar path as she has.

“Learn how to work smartly, and understand the power of networking. In this industry it’s all about knowing what your ‘brand’ is… aggressively seek opportunities to convey that to the people who can make decisions when it comes to your career.

“Be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices… [they] will pay off in the long run. Have a plan… give yourself deadlines to work towards. Always keep learning – it will keep you curious, and curiousity can take you a long way in this field!”

QUICK FACTS

  • lives with her boyfriend and their puppy, Remy – a mini golden doodle (poodle/golden retriever mix)
  • self-confessed scrabble (for iPad) addict
  • favourite movie is The Colour Purple. She also likes Catch Me If You Can and Pan’s Labyrinth
  • enjoys reading self help books and those about human triumph and survival
  • favourite cuisines are Italian, Indian and West Indian – apart from anything made with ox tail!
  • loves music by artistes such as Mariah Carey, En Vogue, Lauryn Hill and Outkast. Also listens to soca, reggae and dancehall music


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