Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us about yourself. Who is Lori Wilson?
Lori: Lori is someone who was born to be a servant leader. I am most fulfilled when I am helping others by giving them information or giving a voice to a story that would not be heard if I haven’t been able to tell that story. I am someone who absolutely loves what it is I do - but probably not for the reasons people think. Being on television is a blessing because it is a platform, but what I love is going and talking to young people and connecting with them. I am a child of God. I am someone who is really driven by the desire to make the world a better place, even if it’s only just one little corner or just one person at a time.
QFTD: When and how did your vision of becoming a television anchor develop?
Lori: I don’t want to say it happened by accident, but what I will say is that when I was very young one of my relatives was a model. She would always have me perform for her when I was a child. She would have me sing commercials, making me the entertainment in the house. She suggested that I join a modeling agency. After I did, I got booked for two tv commercials and eventually did some acting. That experience gave me a love for the camera. When I was in high school, I was a part of a group that produced, wrote, and directed our own television shows. I studied journalism at Indiana University. Being a tv anchor is something I just pursued, despite some people trying to discourage me from it while I was in school. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I would have to move thousands of miles away from my family and that I wasn’t going to get paid very much. I figured it was a part of my calling, so I decided that I wanted to use the medium of television to tell stories and connect with people. The best way to do that was through journalism.
QFTD: Who is someone that inspired you, or still inspires you, in your field?
Lori: When I was younger, it was Oprah. It was Charlayne Hunter-Gault. It was seeing women on a national platform who were telling stories that made a difference. Ava Duvernay and Melissa Harris-Perry are also women who are adding to a conversation that needs to be had. I look to those women who are succeeding in their field and are passionate about what they do and I say to myself, “I want to be a part of that.”
QFTD: Have you ever met Oprah?
Lori: I have. We spoke a few times. I met her in Atlanta when she was at an event for Morehouse College. I remember seeing her and thinking, I have to go talk to her, so I did. I told her what I was doing, but I mentioned that I would like to be doing more of what she does. We kind of laughed, and she said, “Morning news is what you do until you get a chance to do what you really want to do.” (mainly because of the hours). When I spoke to her again in D.C., at an event at Howard University, once again, she was very kind and gracious. She just has this body of work that is greater than herself, and that’s what the inspiration is for me.
QFTD: Take us back to when the bright lights of the news camera hit you. What was your first experience like as a reporter?
Lori: I remember it clearly. I was in Illinois as a hot-air balloon launch. I was wearing a royal blue jacket I picked up from a consignment shop. I was so nervous and excited because I knew what I was doing was going to be for the rest of my life. I can’t really describe the thrill, and I just remember thinking when it was over, I did it! The only other time I’ve felt that way is when I’ve moved to a new place, or tried something exciting for the first time.
QFTD: Wherever you’ve been, you’ve made it a point to get involved with community service projects. Why is it so important for you to give back to the community?
Lori: No one gets through this life alone. I feel like the reason I have been blessed to do what I do is not about me. I know it is so that I might bless others in whatever way I can. Giving back has never been something where I said, “Oh, that will be fun to do.” I feel like it is a responsibility. It is a responsibility to God, my community, and my family.
QFTD: To whom much is given, much is required.
QFTD: Out of all the people you’ve interviewed, or all the stories you’ve covered, which ones stand out?
Lori: There are the obvious ones, where you cover a presidential inauguration or a Hurricane Sandy because the magnitude of those moments is huge and the impact is so far-reaching. Those are stories I will always remember. I have to tell you though that the smaller stories are the ones that mean a lot, too. It’s the story about the little girl who starts her own jewelry company because her brother has autism and the mother cannot afford the things they need. We did a story last night about a young guy who goes to Target to buy a clip-on tie for an interview, but because they didn’t carry those, the workers showed him how to tie a real tie. They stepped in as if he was their son, and they gave him interview advice. Those types of stories are just as important to me. There’s enough in the world that can bring you down, but these kinds of stories, where people realize they can do something to make a difference or survive difficult circumstances, are the ones that uplift people.
QFTD: When you’ve moved on from your television career, how would you like people to remember your body of work?
Lori: I would like people to remember me as someone who made a difference. I’m working on starting a foundation, and I finished writing a children’s book; I really want to inspire young girls to be the best that they can be. In everything that I do, I am thinking, how can I bring the next generation up? How can I encourage young people? I want to be remembered as someone who tries to help people be their best.
To see more from Lori through her website, click below.