With Many Roles, Many Shades Of The Woman, And All Of Them Are As Strong-Willed As Her Personality That Has Been Projected Quite Evidently On Air. We’re Talking About Amna Nawaz, Our Digital Cover Star Of The May Issue.
Our Digital Cover Star for the May issue is giving us all the OG Boss Lady vibes! Amna Nawaz’s main character’s energy is everything one can aspire to be – unapologetically fabulous, confident and charismatic! Showing no sign of stopping down, we were so excited to talk about her life and what’s brewing in her work. Read ahead, and take a quick look into the realm of her world!
A very warm welcome to you, Amna Nawaz! Please share with us the first time when you felt your work is appreciated.
Thank you for the warm welcome! Earlier in my career, I interviewed a woman who’d lost her husband in a terrible accident that got national attention. She trusted me with her story at the worst moment in her life, and after it aired, she reached out to thank me. And, she was grateful for making her feel comfortable, for letting her tell the story fairly and with heart. As a journalist, it’s not always easy to see the impact of your work. That was an early reminder, one that’s stayed with me, that
people are at the heart of our work. And how important it is to make sure that they are seen.
Who has been your biggest inspiration so far?
My parents have always been my biggest source of inspiration and support. My mother, Seema, is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever known. Strong, smart, deeply empathetic, and beautiful inside out. Whereas, I’ve always admired my father’s grace, his work ethic, and his dedication to always learning and contributing to the world around him. Together, both of them offer me a powerful model of what a life well-lived can look like.
What kind of goals have you set for yourself as a role of a co-anchor?
My daily goal is to use journalism to put something good out into the world – big or small. To empower people with facts so that they can make informed decisions about their lives. In this co- anchor role, I want to continue to tell stories of impact, to do work of consequence, and to hold people in power to account. More broadly, I’m deeply grateful to have the privilege of this platform and to partner with my exceptional co-anchor Geoff Bennett. He’s one of the finest journalists of our time and an absolute gem of a human. We work hard, but we have fun. A long-term goal is to make sure that even though I may be one of the first people like to have this role, I won’t be the last.
Does being a Muslim American influence your approach towards the stories you cover?
I’m deeply proud of who I am and the many parts of my identity. Yes, I’m Muslim. A Brown woman. First-generation American. A sister, a daughter, a wife, and a mother of two girls. A Virgo. Former athlete. Voracious chocolate consumer. Lover of sports and music and cooking shows. None of us is any one thing, and I think we can all do better to grant women the same space to live complicated, layered lives that we grant men. One can be a good mom and be really good at your job. One can be smart and serious but still enjoy fashion and art. One can also be tough when needed but still show one’s humanity. My work isn’t driven by who I am but by what I know. What I’ve witnessed, reported on, and lived through in my own life — across thousands of stories and hundreds of communities around the world absolutely informs my journalism. Unless it’s your first day on the job, no journalist starts from zero at each story.
You have been in this industry for quite a while now, what would you tell the newcomers who are planning or have just started in this industry?
Let the facts lead. Get comfortable, as being uncomfortable can be hard to work in this industry. Be curious. Be kind. Stay humble. The highs are very high, and the lows can be very low. Fight the cynicism. Journalism is about optimism. You have to believe the work you’re doing which can make things a little bit better.
What has been the strongest influence on your life and career so far?
I’ve always been ambitious, wanting to do things to the best of my ability, and that’s in my nature. But ambition can feel empty if you don’t know why you’re doing it and what you’re doing. A few years ago, I had my daughters; names tattooed on my wrists. It’s a constant reminder of why I work as I do and why I value what I do. They are my whole heart and its pure joy to watch them carve their own paths. We have limited time here, all of us. And to make the most of it, you have to remind yourself which chapter is part of the larger story that started long before you were born and will go on long, long, long after you’re gone.
What according to you are the biggest challenges you have faced as a journalist?
Journalism is under assault worldwide. I’m in awe of and have endless respect for those who literally put their lives on the line every day to do this work. I lived a slice of that overseas. In America, journalists face a steady stream of attacks by politicians and others seeking to undermine our work and credibility. I see it every day in my messages and comments, luckily still rarely in person. This is all unfolding in a messy, crowded information landscape with persistent misinformation and disinformation throughout. Our biggest challenge remains ensuring we’re putting the truth into the hands of the people we serve. It’s a simple mission but more complicated today than ever before.
What does a day in Amna’s life look like? Is it hectic? Do you enjoy what you do?
Most days begin at 5 am and end between 10 and 11 unless I’m attending a late event or travelling late. Work sometimes can be hectic, but my husband Paul and I try to maintain a calm, safe space at home for us, and for our girls. I’m gone a lot. Since deciding to step back from his job in journalism for a bit, my husband has been the primary, full-time parent and the absolute centre of our family.
Nothing works without him. Mornings and nights when I’m home, are all about the family. I help the girls get ready, and we talk over breakfast… I read them stories at night we talk about their days. When I’m at work, you never know what the day brings. We have breaking news at all hours, even at times when the show is already live on the air. I work with the most incredible team of producers, editors, and technicians. A small army of dedicated, mission-driven people whom I admire and
adore. I love what I do, and I’m extraordinarily grateful to be able to say that.
Our readers were quite excited to have you on board. What’s your message to the people who want to be like you?
Don’t try to be like anyone else. Be the first and best version of you.
Are there any projects that you are working on, currently? Please shed some light on those.
We’re gearing up for another tumultuous and pivotal presidential election next year, as our country is wrestling with foundational issues about who we are and the direction where we’re going. I’m looking forward to asking questions to the candidates on behalf of the American people. The NewsHour’s gun violence coverage just received an enormous honour – a Peabody Award. We’ll continue to cover this uniquely American epidemic. People still have questions about the economy,
immigration, and abortion access that we work hard to answer every day. Overseas, we’re paying close attention to the war in Ukraine, to the fighting in Sudan, and the global ripple effects of both, as well as how the climate crisis is changing communities, fuelling instability, and spurring migration. We always include stories that offer moments of humanity, beauty, and hope through our arts and related coverage. There’s no shortage of stories that demand our attention and no end to the
questions that need an answer. Thus, it has been an exceptional time being a journalist.