HMM: What was life like growing up for you? What kind of family did you grow up in?
Vanessa Tyler: I was raised by a mother with a vision. My mom Brenda Lowery was so pretty. She had me when she was very young. Adoption wasn’t even an option in her mind, even though she and my dad were in their teens.
About 4 years later she married my stepfather- She had two other children; my brother Jimmie (we call him Dwayne) and my sister Natasha.
My dad Gerald Tyler also went on to have additional children. My brothers; Gerald, Eric, Timothy, Joey, and JT.
I grew up in Harlem. I lived in General Ulysses S. Grant Houses, Grant Projects to those who know they area. I felt safe and loved. It may surprise your readers, but Harlem is not like what they may think or what they may have heard. Harlem is very protective of its children. It’s like being around family even if there is no blood relations. We all feel a connection to the soul, the struggle, and the mission. I wouldn’t want to have grown up anywhere else. I got all the knowledge I ever needed between my wise young mother and the Harlem streets.
HMM: How old were you when you knew this was your calling and what you were going to do for the rest of your life?
Vanessa Tyler: I was 11 when I knew I would be a television news reporter.IattendedCatholicschoolsallmylife. Mymother believed parochial schools would give her children an advantage and she was right. I admired my lay teachers and feared the nuns, but I loved to write and spoke well. Then I saw Melva Tolliver –It was bingo- that is what I want to do. Decades later when I had the blessed opportunity to do a profile on (now retired) Ms. Tolliver I told her how she impacted my life. (Remember she was the WABC reporter they took off the air because she wore an afro). She was so gracious, smart, and humble. She is also responsible for a number of us African American journalists choosing broadcast news. The late Peabody award winning journalist Gwen Ifill also attributes her career path to Melba Tolliver.
HMM: Were you a dreamer growing up? What kinds of dreams did you have?
VT: I was more like a task master. I researched what I had to do to get where I wanted and then went after what it was I needed to do to make it happen.
“I love to do what I do because I love to tell people stories.” – Vanessa Tyler
HMM: How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise very competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry, as business at times can be cut throat?
Vanessa Tyler: I have to keep the faith. (period)
HMM: What advice do you have for others who have THE dream? VT: I tell them don’t look at the glamour ( if there is any left in the television news business after the beating the profession is taking in today’s society, especially being called “fake news” by the president). But I also warn them not to let the business consume their lives.
HMM: Would you consider yourself a driven person? What makes you a powerhouse? What is the source of your strength? VT: I’m driven. I’m also compassionate. I won’t step over a person. I often wonder if I were more cut throat I would be farther ahead. My strength definitely comes from God. My relationship with God now is far different then my time as a lil catholic school girl. Today my commitment with HIM at this stage of my life is much more personal.
HMM: What is your definition of peace? What is your definition of success?
VT: Peace is no aggravation; especially at home. Success is being able to help myself and others without a second thought.
HMM: If there’s one thing you could change about the world what would it be?
VT: Racism (period)
HMM: Who’s been the greatest influence in your life? VT: No question my mom. I miss her everyday. Damn breast cancer!
Big Faith & an Even Bigger Dream!
HMM: What made you decide to be what you have chosen as a profession today?
Vanessa Tyler: I believe it was my love of writing. I won a lot of essay contests as a child.
HMM: Who were some of your earliest influences? VT: I believe Melba Tolliver was the earliest. I also admire many more- for instance Carole Simpson, and my contemporaries like longtime Rochester Anchor Janet Lomax (recently retired). Then there are so many of my close friends who are in the business now like Roz Plater (San Francisco), Kim Adams (Philly), and Nicole Johnson(New York).
HMM: How hard was it breaking into the business? We hear stories all the time of people who try for years and never make it, and then other stories of overnight “in the right place at the right time” sensations. Which one do you think there’s more of? Those who pay their dues, or opportunity meeting preparation?
VT: It was hard getting your foot in the door. I started behind the scenes as an assignment editor in a major news market – Washington DC. Which of course if a blessing. But I wanted to be on air. That is where the sacrifice came in. In order to fulfill my on- air dreams I had to move to a small market (ie small town) to practice and perfect my craft. Those are the towns where you can stumble while live, maybe wear too much eyeliner until you get your make up right, straighten out your look, your voice, your on air presence. So I’m grateful for those days in Salisbury Maryland, Rochester New York, Charlotte North Carolina, and Dayton Ohio. That got me back to my hometown of New York.
HMM; How difficult is it to maintain a work-life balance? What measures do you take to ensure that you have that?
VT: To be honest, I haven’t been good at that part. But God willing it is not too late.
HMM: Would you consider yourself a driven person? What makes you a powerhouse? What is the source of your strength?
VT: I’m driven. I’m also compassionate. I won’t step over a person. I often wonder if I were more cut throat I would be farther ahead. My strength definitely comes from God. My relationship with God now is far different then my time as a lil catholic school girl. Today my commitment with HIM at this stage of my life is much more personal.
HMM: What is the one thing you want people to remember most about you and your work?
VT: I want them to remember that I told stories like no one else. That when my pieces ended they felt something, and maybe even took some sort of action.
HMM: What type of legacy do you wish to leave?
VT: I would love to continue to mentor and help anyone wanting to enter this business.
HMM: Being in the public eye is not without its consequences, how difficult is it to maintain great relationships (those with girlfriends/boyfriends, childhood friends, family, and significant others)? How do you handle that?
VT: I’m so lucky. I have a sister who is my best friend and I have friends who are my family. I’m under the sign of Cancer, born in July- We collect people and never let them go.
HMM: What is the one dream for yourself you most look forward to having come true?
VT: I’ve already vowed for myself for 2019, I WILL travel more. I want to go to the exotic and the ordinary. I want to have more fun.
HMM: If there’s one thing you could change about your past, what would it be?
VT: I would have had children- at least one. But it is not too late. There are so many adorable loving children who need a home.
HMM: What advice do you have for the young ladies (teens to young adult age) who are growing up in today’s world with so much influence in music that is not always supportive of their best interests?
VT: Always respect yourself. Never be afraid to walk away.