There is nothing more freeing than being your authentic self. It’s a lesson Kumasi learned as a junior at Florida A&M University. She was credits away from earning a degree in accounting, and had just completed a summer internship with Proctor and Gamble. When she got back to campus she knew it was time for a change. Something drew her to the journalism school, and after reading a story from the news desk she felt something inside come alive.
Kumasi grew up in Sebring, Florida, a small town just outside of Orlando. After graduating from FAMU with a degree in accounting she received an internship at ABC News in New York City, New York. The internship led to a full time position at WABC-TV. She also worked as a camerawoman with NY1 News, New York City’s local cable station before accepting a position at NBC Nightly News.
Next, Kumasi spent two years at KFSM in Fayetteville, Arkansas, anchoring and reporting on everything from deadly tornadoes to Joplin recovery to a plane crash. She even got the chance to interview President Clinton. Now, Kumasi is back in her home state and closer to family, working as an Anchor and Reporter aat WJXT Channel 4, The Local Station in Jacksonville, Florida.
In her time in Jacksonville she’s reported on many local and national stories, including the FSU campus shooting, the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. Kumasi has also been able to wear her natural hair on air for the first time in her career!
Kumasi loves meeting new people, learning from them and their experiences, and then sharing what she’s learned through the stories she writes and tells.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in journalism?
When I sat down at the newsdesk at my college TV station. I had just gotten back to Florida A&M University after a summer internship at a Fortune 500 company. It was a big deal that I’d gotten it, and everyone was so impressed. Everyone except me that is. I didn’t like sitting behind the desk all summer and I knew I didn’t want to make a career of it. I remember someone at the company telling us that if we worked hard we could eventually become a partner at this company! I remember sitting there and thinking, “I don’t want to work my whole life for that.” So what did I want to spend my life working toward? I knew I liked journalism, so while I was interning that summer, I went by the local radio station there and asked what I could do. I was willing to do anything. So I did! Went out on different station events, hung out in the studio. I loved it. When I got back on campus and sat down on that desk, I knew it was time to make a significant change.
After working behind-the-camera, how did you know you wanted to become an on-air personality?
I always knew that I wanted to be the face of the stories I told. I like being involved, asking the questions, the follow up questions, and then the creativity of writing and presenting what I’d learned. But I knew the value of what I was learning in my behind the scenes roles. As an accounting major I knew there was a lot that I had yet to learn, and I wanted to be as prepared as I could when the moment came for me to work on air. So I soaked in everything I could and when it was time, I took a leap of faith!
What is one of the biggest challenges you faced when entering the work force after studying accounting in college instead of journalism and choosing to follow your passion into a competitive industry?
Having no journalism experience. I can’t tell you how many stations I applied to right after college graduation. They all turned me down because I had no call letters on my resume. I hadn’t worked or interned at a TV station and they all told me I needed that experience. But how was I supposed to get said experience as a college graduate? Luckily I was accepted into a post graduation internship program with the International Television and Radio Society. I got my foot in the door interning in New York City, and that was really all I needed to get the ball rolling!
How has your time in the newsroom built your perspective on what it means to be a woman in the workforce?
It’s encouraged me. I have seen women in every role, excelling in every role, and it’s shown me that whatever I want is attainable. Now, I know the road for many of these women has not always been easy but they are there. They paved the way for me, so in turn I have learned that it’s my responsibility to carry the torch and do the same for those coming behind me.
What women do you look up to as a role model in your career or life? What are the characteristics you most admire in those women?
Oprah and Wendy Williams. I smile as I say that because they are such different women in media but what I admire about both of them is their authenticity. They are true to themselves and that makes them powerful to me. I love how Oprah she allows her spirit to guide her decisions and set the tone for her content and her brand. That spiritual connection has helped connect her to millions of people across the world. With Wendy, she is always unapologetically herself even if it isn’t always pretty or politically correct. Her casual no barriers approach makes me and millions of women around the world feel like we could be friends!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Know your own power. I try to put this into practice by listening to that still small voice even when I don’t want to. It’s never guided me wrong. I notice when I don’t listen I get off track so I am learning to trust myself more.
You can create the life you want! Now more than ever I am more conscious of what I think and say, not only about my life and myself, but about others and situations. I try my best to focus on those that are positive, that feel good, and in turn I see more positive and good things in my life!