For this edition of Real Life Glam we bring you Mara Schiavocampo, reporter for NBC Nightly News and the TODAY Show. If we could describe her in one word it would have to be: Awesome. Mara is an accomplished broadcast journalist and all around powerful woman. She juggles a thriving professional career and growing family without missing a beat and still has time to chat with the ladies of GLB. Read on to find out more about this self-proclaimed Harlem Globetrotter. She’ll definitely add a little inspiration to your morning!
GLB: Tell us about yourself!
MS: I’m a correspondent for NBC news, which means I cover everything general assignments ranging from features to serious breaking news. I was born in Silver Springs, Maryland. I’m biracial, my father is Italian (from Sicily) and my mother is Black. I’m a wife and mother; I’ve been married for seven years and my daughter Nina is eight months old. I’ve been living in Harlem for the last 11 years.
GLB: When did you first discover your interest in journalism?
MS: I’ve always loved to write. However, in college, I thought I wanted a career in medicine. But after failing chemistry twice, I decided to go back to writing since I was good at it. When I graduated college I knew I wasn’t ready to go to work, so I attended graduate school and from there went into broadcast. From there, I graduated and got a job with CBS in New York where I interned. That’s where everything started and where the TV bug bit me.
GLB: While in grad school, you accidently checked broadcast journalism instead of print journalism as your concentration. Do you ever think about how your life could have turned out if not for that slip-up?
MS: It’s funny because I don’t think about that. I don’t believe in alternate realities, so I think me checking a different box was one of those serendipitous things that was meant to happen. I never gave it a second thought.
Mara Schiavocampo in Harlem, NY on Election Night (2008) via marasonline.net
GLB: Did you have internships anywhere during your undergrad and graduate careers that helped you reach your current success?
MS: The only internship I had was at CBS during graduate school. When I see kids who are sophomores and juniors who have had three or four internships, I think these kids are so ahead of the game. All things considered, I think it took me a while because I changed my career path.
GLB: Who inspires you?
MS: Professionally, I would have to say Beyonce! I know that there must be times when she’s scared or lacks confidence, but her fearlessness on stage inspires me. Her work ethic and talent are amazing; I get a lot from her as a professional. Hip-hop stars like Jay-Z, Nas, and Tupac inspire me as well. These are people who came from nothing and built empires based on savvy and talent.
I think Scott Pelley from CBS is a phenomenal reporter, as well as Ann Curry. They’re anchors, but they’re also fantastic reporters. I love Richard Engel. I respect people who know their stuff and have a sense of compassion and human interest who are also good with the performance aspect.
GLB: In a recent New York Women in Communications article you said that you’d love to report from outer space if given the chance. Is there anywhere else you would like to visit?
MS: I meant that literally; space tourism is kicking off! If people pay for a seat, they will have the opportunity to travel to space. I would love the opportunity to report on that stuff. I’ve been lucky to visit numerous places when reporting, so I wouldn’t say I really want to visit somewhere. It’s all based on what’s happening in world news.
GLB: Which events have stuck out the most to you that you’ve reported on?
MS: The riots in Haiti during 2008 and the Haitian earthquake 2010. That changed my life because it was such suffering and devastation on a massive scale. Those events caused me to reevaluate life and its meaning. It made me think about what’s truly important and about the resiliency of people.
Tent camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (2011) via marasonline.net
GLB: Since you’ve traveled to numerous countries as a journalist (even maintaining dual American and Italian citizenship from a young age), which place would you say is your favorite?
MS: I love Italy, but I’m biased due to family ties so I’ll say Jordan. I love Jordan so much. I’ve been there four times and I find it so rich and colorful. It’s a great mixture of western and Arabic cultures. Everything about Jordan is amazing: the food, history, culture. It’s a magical place.
GLB: What advice do you have for young women, especially those of color, who want to pursue a career in broadcast journalism?
MS: I find that many women of color are discouraged from the offset regarding broadcast journalism because we haven’t seen many people who look like us on television. If you focus on that, it’ll always be a hindrance. All you can do is bring your “A Game” every single time. You’ll need to shift from discouragement to motivation. Be too good to deny. Make sure you don’t give anyone an excuse to doubt you. Be overly prepared. It’s all about work and knowing what’s going on in your industry. Something that’s really key is relationships, though. They’re everything. You need to have a wide variety. It’s not always about who you know; it’s about who knows you. Nurturing those relationships is sometimes 50% (or more) of what you need to do.
GLB: You’ve accomplished so much in your life so far, winning the National Association of Black Journalists’ Emerging Journalist Award, an Emmy Award, and more recently becoming a mother. (Congratulations!) What’s next for you, Mara Schiavocampo?
MS: I don’t think that way because I feel that my life plan is not mine. I’m a very spiritual person and my faith dictates that God is the One who orders my steps. I just want to be prepared no matter where I go. It’s a matter of paying attention to what’s going on in the world. I want to strengthen my weaknesses, make my strengths stronger. I want to be prepared for whatever God has next for me.
Mara Schiavocampo and daughter Nina
Random Questions with Mara Schiavocampo!
What’s your television guilty pleasure?
Keeping up with the Kardashians, I hate to admit that. It’s terrible!
What’s your biggest fear?
I am not a fan of announcing my fears. Why would someone tell another what his or her Achilles’ heel is?! I’m not going to answer!
What do you do in your free time?
My favorite thing is to sit on the couch and go through catalogues (lamps, clothing, furniture) for anything! And as a result, I get a lot of catalogues because I end up ordering from them. I’ll keep five or so of them and when I have down time, I go through them.
If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Off of the top of my mind, I would say Harriet Tubman. I say her because she was a woman who was empowered in a time when it was nearly impossible to be empowered as a black person and a slave. She was fearless, although she was probably fearful and she pushed past it at the service of others. It would be remarkable to pick her brain.