#TANTVTalks: Interview with Brittany Jones-Cooper

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#TANTVTALKS is an original series intended to be a live interview series (When we can of course all gather again in person post Covid-19). For now, it is a casual virtual interview and article series that pairs TANTV journalists with some of the most creative multicultural figures who are dominating in their fields. We profile multicultural figures leading in science, to media, film, art, innovation, music, sustainability, fashion, entertainment, wellness and more…

My interview with Brittany Jones-Cooper will forever be a memorable one. Brittany is as real and warm as she seems while hosting her regular show, BUILD Series by Yahoo! Brittany has been a reporter at Yahoo Finance covering personal finance and the travel industry, she previously worked as an editor at YahooTravel and as an associate producer at Katie Couric’s daytime talk show. As a host at BUILD Series, Brittany sits down for long-form interviews with actors, directors, activists, and authors. Build Series is a live interview series where Fans sit inches away from some of today’s biggest names in entertainment, tech, fashion and business as they share the stories behind their projects and passions. This is Yahoo’s commitment to providing celebrity fans with an immersive live experience; having a woman of color like Brittany as a main host is truly significant and should be applauded.

The reason I invited Brittany to be a guest on this platform is because she is the true definition of a successful young black female journalist who has put skin in the game for over ten years to achieve success.

Yes, she is indeed successful because she carries such power in her position to conduct some of the most highly anticipated interviews in American and global celebrity culture. Through her interviews, she has interacted with top personalities from the likes of Serena Williams, Issa Rae, John Legend, Regina Hall , Ava DuVernay, Gabriel Union, Kirsten Dunst, Catherine Reitman, Nia Long, Tyra Banks, Jessica Alba, Jada Pinkett Smith and so many more key figures that have fans looking up to them.

In a Business Wire article, BUILD Series executive producer Suzanne Lindbergh was quoted saying, “the BUILD Series is all about creating a fan-first experience”. With the pressures that comes with interviewing some of the world’s most recognized cultural faces,  Brittany has proven to handle herself well with Grace and as she said, “much preparation.” Sitting on the host chair as an interviewer, she says “comes with much responsibility” which she clearly understands. “Built around the Fans being present in the studio, the fans are clearly invested in the guests and they will know if you have come prepared as a moderator,” Brittany says. As an overachiever, Brittany mentions she watched all seasons of the Outlander in preparation to interview the main casts. She mentioned she would research for hours, read a book from cover to finish if she had to interview an author, and there was no cutting slacks. She points that, “being over prepared is always better than being underprepared.”

From our conversation, it is undeniable that Brittany’s career success comes from strong work ethics and love for the work. She says, “I enjoy doing this and I have a mantra that says money comes to me by doing what I love.”

Given that the month of May is graduation season, which is another reason I wanted Brittany as our guest, to share tips that will be helpful to media graduates, Brittany says, “recent graduates should be kind to themselves as they try to figure out their career path amidst the pandemic.”

She spoke about graduating during the recession and not having employment for a while even after interning with big companies like NIKE. She opted to start a blog that eventually landed her a job where she became a producer for katie Couric’s daytime talkshow.

You should be writing, filming, building your YouTube page with journalistic material as a recent grad while you apply for employment at your dream networks. There is no luxury to sit around she says.

For monetization, she admits she doesn’t really know the nitty gritty of monetizing a brand because she has always found stable income with bigger media companies, but for starters, she says, “temp jobs, although might be soul crushing for a while can help pay the bills. After 5pm, you can go back to do the creative work you love.”

On wellness and mental health strengthening, Brittany says “that she saw a therapist for three months at the age of twenty-three when she struggled after moving to New York.” At thirty-four, she says “it was one of the best decisions she ever made for herself.” Having a therapist equipped her with tools and skills to handle panic attacks, fears and anxieties. Admitting to her that I also personally deal with fears and anxieties as well, she jumped in saying, ‘we all do!’.

She suggests tools like meditating about four times a week early mornings has been helpful and keeping a gratitude journal. Several guided meditation she says can be gotten from the likes of Gabby Bernstein, she recommends. Talking about mental health, we both agree that the stigmatization for people of color has to be addressed and also the provision of better healthcare for minorities.

Brittany was kind enough to be open about her personal life as well. In her twenties, she was more career focused and didn’t invest time in relationships or prioritize them as much. Now in her thirties, she says “she is definitely interested in dating intentionally. “I am single and if you have any handsome cousins, they don’t have to be based in New York, I am open to being set up.” She mentions not being a big fan of dating apps and prefers connecting through mutual relations.

Our interview lasted close to an hour and not a boring second getting to know this rare gem whom I think has managed to build an excellent career but remains low-key and humble in what I would refer to as, admirably letting her work speak for itself!

Here is a brief Q and A we did with Brittany in her own words: 

Q. How have you been holding up during this COVID-19 pandemic?

A: I’ve been more disciplined with some creative projects. I love to write, and don’t always make time for it, so it’s been nice to get into a new routine. Between work, books, zoom happy hours and solo dance parties…I’ve been pretty busy.

Q. What has been your self-care routine?

A. Yoga has been a big part of my quarantine. I wanted to make sure that I was staying active and managing my stress, and it helps with both. I also meditate pretty regularly and I’m obsessed with face masks.

Q.. When did you know you wanted to have a media career?

A. I knew pretty early that journalism was a passion. I bought a video camera at 15 and used it to interview my friends and document everything in my life. By my senior year of high school, I was the State President of a high school organization called DECA, and the role required me to do a lot of public speaking. My comfort in front of large crowds, my love of writing, and my desire to connect with my community led me to wanting to be a local reporter. I got my first shot on-air at KETV in Omaha, Nebraska.

Q. List some Personal traits that have helped you achieve success?

A. Empathy is a trait that I have seen deepen in myself over the last decade. I am truly curious about other people’s experiences  and how they were shaped. I try to lead with understanding and love. Most people just want to be heard, and I want to listen.

Q. What area of navigating the media landscape has been hard for you?

A. The media landscape has changed dramatically since I graduated from college, so keeping up with the often shaky evolution has been interesting. Platforms rise and fall quickly, celebrities are now hosts, youtube stars run everything, and followers are like currency. It’s competitive and increasingly more difficult to stand out. Over the years I’ve focused on trying to relax into my work and enjoy the process.  Not all of my interviews have the most views or likes, but I have fun doing them and I’m proud of the content.

Q. One experience that has shaped your motivation level for the better?

A. I was Katie Couric’s intern in the Summer of 2007. I was from Omaha, Nebraska and had never been to New York City. When I walked into the CBS Evening Newsroom, Katie literally welcomed me with open arms. It was unreal to me. This world was big. So fast. So smart. It was like living in a sitcom, and it seemed insane that I was given that access. That summer completely changed my outlook on what was possible.

Q. Best interview topics/focus you like covering?

A. I love to talk about whatever makes my guest light up. If they are having fun, I can talk about pretty much anything. If the vibe is right,  topics I like to discuss are spiritual practices, pivotal life moments, race, identity and wellness.  

Q. Best advice on being a great host?

A. Listen. Like, actually listen. It’s the practice I am most disciplined about. It can be easy to space out when someone is talking, but hanging on to every word really allows you to ask better questions and make cleaner transitions.

Q. Advice to recent journalism graduates on starting a media career during a pandemic?

A. Be kind to yourself. I graduated during the recession and I remember it being a very frustrating and deflating time. Your dreams are valid, even if you hit roadblocks in the beginning. Instead of getting down,  use this time to read, write, learn to edit, or launch your own youtube show. It will be a creative outlet for you, and may even lead to a job opportunity.


Rapid Fire with Brittany Jones-Cooper

Favorite book of all time?

The Color Purple. Heartbreaking, beautiful and inspiring.

Favorite news outlet?

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. I trust him.

Favorite TV show?

Veep.  Julie Louis-Dreyfus and the f-bomb have a very special relationship in this show that I deeply respect.

Favorite magazine to read?

The Atlantic

Top goals yet to be achieved?

A yoga handstand. A family. A talk show.

One main social issue that bothers you and you will like to cover?

I feel very strongly about mental health awareness and access to affordable healthcare.

You can connect with Brittany on all social platforms at her handle @bjonescooper

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