I remember my graduate professor, Dr. Marsha Della-Giustina, saying this to me after a rather disastrous LIVE shot. It was a warm day in Boston – close to the end of the semester and all of us were trying to get our final projects completed. I remember my project included me needing to complete a LIVE shot after an Anchor toss from the studio. The Anchor toss was perfect – and now I was “on.” I froze. My mind literally went blank. I could feel everyone looking at me – waiting. And waiting. It wasn’t enough that I was older than everyone in my class – but in that instant, I was thinking, “can I do this? can I cut it? at 26 and still in school, isn’t he like a Senior Citizen or something? Are they thinking, ‘can he do this? can he cut it?'” All of this happened in the span of :20 seconds or so – but it felt like a lifetime and long enough for this entire soliloquy to play in my mind. I was literally my own worst enemy and toughest critic.
My Emerson College classmates and I were supportive of one another, but we were also competitive. I wanted to be ‘the best’ but I was nowhere close to that. Luckily for me, Dr. Della-Giustina had seen it all before. She had perfected the art of talking students off the proverbial ‘ledge’. While giving me feedback later that day, she told me to remember the basics: “…tell viewers where you are, tell them why you’re there and remember to have a conversation with your interview subject, ‘listen’ to what they’re saying and keep it simple.”
I kept working, pushing and doing my best to improve my craft. I watched others, read more and spoke to myself in the mirror – over and over and over again. I also learned to listen.
I found an old LIVE shot from my first year as an Anchor/Reporter; the nerves are clear.
Since then, I’ve gotten a lot better – humility prevents me from calling myself a ‘Master’ but I never stopped working or pushing to improve.
Feel free to laugh – try not to cringe – but whatever you do, if this if the field you love and the work you enjoy: NEVER STOP pushing to improve!
“…every Master was once a student!”