Hometown girl makes good and looks good on TV
15th July 2013 · 0 Comments
By Kelly Parker
New Orleans’ own Sheba Turk is living the dream of many professionals: Not only working in their desired field, but in the city in which they call home.
In the fall of 2011, shortly after graduating from the University of New Orleans, she joined WWL-TV and soon took on the position of traffic reporter. In June, Turk became the newest member of WWL-TV’s team of reporters.The Louisiana Weekly recently turned the tables on the native and talked with her about the quick transition of her exciting career in broadcast journalism, and what it means to report the news in her hometown.
LW: A lot has happened in your career in a short time. In just two years, you’ve gone from graduating to working as a morning show associate producer for WWL-TV, then to traffic reporter and very soon after to field reporter.
ST: Things have happened very quickly in my career, and no- it still has not all sunk in. I am still surprised when people ask approach me and ask if I’m “the lady from the news.” It’s not that I didn’t see these things happening for myself, but my vision is coming together a lot quicker than I expected. But the fact that things are happening so quickly just reaffirms that I am where I am supposed to be in my life. I have always believed when you are heading down the path of what you are meant to do in life- things seem to magically fall in place.
LW: What part of the city did you grow up in? (And the most important question for locals) What high school did you attend?
ST: I grew up in the 7th Ward. Halfway, through high school my family moved to Gentilly. I went to St. Mary’s Dominican High School and loved it. To this day, many of my closest friends are the girls I went to Dominican with.
LW: It’s been noted that music and the theater was a love of yours in high school. When did you get the writing bug?
ST: I have always loved to write, but until college it was something I kind of kept to myself. When I was younger, I wrote fiction stories all of the time. In high school, English was always the class I enjoyed the most — whether it be creating a story or writing a research paper. At the time though, it never even crossed my mind that could be a career. In college, my professor- turned mentor and friend Kim Bondy really helped find me gigs that would pay me to write and inspired me to pursue a career where I could write.
LW: (In this new position), what’s your daily work routine? And does the schedule leave much time for hobbies and outside interests?
ST: I wake up at 2:40 a.m., which still doesn’t feel real when I say it even though I do it every day. I get in the office around 3:15 a.m. and do research for my stories for the morning, write some scripts, make a plan with my photographers. I have to be in place and ready to go live at 5 a.m. I am live every half hour until 9 a.m. Then, I come back to the office for our morning meeting or I’m sent somewhere straight after the show to cover another story. Many days I’m live again on our noon show and then I tape a story to leave for the later shows. So, on a good day I’m out of the office by 1:30.
I am still new to the schedule, so I would definitely say balance is one of my current ambitions. Work and sleep are my priorities, but I am lucky to have great friends and family who remind me I have to do more than just work. I also have two adorable dogs who don’t care what I’ve done all day- when I get in the door- It’s play time. I am grateful for all of them. They definitely help keep me balanced.
My parents bought me a guitar recently so I’m trying to find time to learn to play that and I want to make time to read more again and exercise. What can I say- I’m a work in progress.
LW: You are living what many consider a dream (working in your profession in your home town) Is it easier or does it add more pressure?
ST: As exciting as it was, there was a small part of me that was afraid to start my career in New Orleans with the people I know watching. Now, I see it as an advantage. I meet so many people who say — ‘We’ve seen you grow so much from your first day doing traffic to now. And I just think it’s so great that the people of my city have been on this journey with me. I feel like they’ve rooted for me and encouraged me and we know New Orleans people -they’ve also told me where there’s room for improvement and I appreciate it all. I love that my grandpa gets to wake up and watch me in the morning. I love that my family and friends and the wonderful characters I meet on the street everyday are all in a sense a part of my story.
LW: We’ve entered another hurricane season; and you stated that you went out and reported during Isaac last year. You were in high school when Hurricane Katrina changed our city so significantly. Looking back, how did that experience impact your view of the news?
ST: I was in high school when Katrina happened, my family lost everything; even my dog, and we had to live in Katy, Texas for a year. It was one of the first times I remember being glued to the news. I wanted to hear about my neighborhood and city as much as I could. Now, I am the one talking about people’s lives and the things that happen to them. During Katrina, I was on the other end. I didn’t want to be called a refugee and I wanted useful information.
When I cover a story, that experience is in the back of my mind so I think- how would the people affected want me to talk about them …what do they need to know? I was doing traffic last hurricane season, but I actually went out and reported during Isaac. I felt it was a good chance to say, ‘Hey I can do this –let me show you. I volunteered to go out in the rain and do some interviews. That’s when I knew for sure, I really want to do this.
LW: There are likely many young girls at your alma mater, looking to follow in your footsteps as a broadcast journalist. What advice would you give to them regarding a career in the field?
ST: Explore all aspects of the business (through internships): Writing, editing, shooting, reporting, and anchoring and then figure out which part you really love. Set a vision of how you see yourself in this world and work towards it even if it feels so far away and then don’t be afraid to change that vision as you learn more about yourself. And that’s when my biggest piece of advice comes in: Get used to being uncomfortable. That’s the only way you grow and learn and get to the next level. And when finally it all starts to go even better than you planned—embrace it and enjoy the little moments. Don’t wait to be happy until you have reached some end goal because it might not happen— that’s just life. But the moment you are in right now…you have that…it’s yours, so own it and enjoy it.
This article originally published in the July 15, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.