How my doppelgänger turned into my inspiration
By: Kelsey Crawford
“You look just like Soledad O’Brien,” a customer I helped several times at Chase Bank told me one afternoon. I had never heard the name before— not on TV, in a movie or anywhere else for that matter. After he left, my curiosity got the best of me and I quickly pulled out my phone and Googled her, like any good Gen Z would do. My preliminary research showed that she was a journalist, which is the same field I was going into. However, when I got home and did more research, I realized she was exactly the kind of journalist that I wanted to be. In the field of journalism, optimism, leadership and advocacy the three most powerful tools for success. As a public relations professional, I hope to use my words to impact people and expand my ability to express my ideas. After researching her, O’Brien embodies many of the qualities that I desire. I realized that I didn’t want to just look like her, I wanted to be her.
Rising against oppression
When I searched O’Brien’s name, the first thing that caught my eye was her “Black in America” documentary. As an African American woman, it’s important that I speak up about injustices against the black community because it directly affects me. O’Brien used her platform and raised her voice to portray the realities of being African American as well as the issues and stereotypes surrounding the African American community. She filmed another similar documentary called “Latino in America” where the main focus is demonstrating how the Latino community is reshaping the country and redefining what it means to be American. O’Brien’s use of reporting and storytelling to paint a picture of what being a minority is like is both admirable and impressive to me as a young journalist.
Optimism in the face of setbacks
O’Brien started out as a reporter in San Francisco. Her boss told her that she should think about going into a different career because he thought she didn’t have what it takes to be a successful journalist. However, she did not let that stop her. Now, 20 years and many stories later, her work shows that she did have the necessary skills to become a powerful storyteller. Her biggest takeaway from this experience was that people don’t have to love you, you just have to be good at what you do. Her time in the small newsroom allowed her to gain as much experience and skill as possible, and then turn around to get a better job. O’Brien also learned not to panic at the end of a job opportunity or project. She changed her mind set to focus on the skills she does have and how she can use them in her next endeavor. Her mantra is that every setback is ultimately a setup for something else.
Leading the pack
In June of 2013, Starfish Media Group was formed with O’Brien serving as the CEO. O’Brien continued raising her voice and began to encourage journalists to cover topics that were being ignored by the mainstream media. Her experience as a reporter allowed her to teach and manage the journalists working for her to uncover stories and empathize with the subjects when reporting. As a leader, her philosophy focuses on doing everything with excitement and enthusiasm, as she believes this leads to better cooperation and storytelling.
To me, as an aspiring journalist that’s focused on public relations, O’Brien represents a shining example of what a journalist should be. Her enthusiasm, strong leadership skills and dedication to uplifting the voices of oppressed people inspire me to become a better storyteller. Although the future may seem intimidating as I start my career, it is encouraging to know that there are people like O’Brien in the field to guide me.
About the Author: Kelsey Crawford is a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in Journalism. Her concentration is public relations and she is striving for a role in a PR firm to continue building her skillset.
Citations: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/latino.in.america/ https://theundefeated.com/features/soledad-obrien-every-setback-is-ultimately-a-setup-forsomething-else/ Two college students interview O’Biren. https://www.mediabistro.com/interviews/so-what-do-you-do-soledad-obrien-journalist-ceo-ofstarfish-media-group/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2016/02/29/soledad-obrien-how-her-work-ethic-andoptimism-led-to-her-success/?sh=68f4bc99446d https://www.asug.com/insights/one-on-one-with-soledad-obrien-pathway-to-your-personal-best