Janai Norman knew from a young age that she would be on television. As a journalist, correspondent and co-anchor for ABC, she is constantly in the spotlight with millions of people watching. Although being in the spotlight has its challenges, Norman uses the platform she is provided to establish connections with viewers. Getting to where she is hasn’t been easy, but Norman has proven that as a Black woman in the media, it’s possible to achieve a dream with hard work.
In a day, the tasks and responsibilities that Norman faces require a lot of energy, time and attention. She’s used to getting up before her family, possibly doing multiple driving trips into the city and running errands while still doing a full workday.
Norman is a working mom and wife, in addition to her job. She said she feels she can’t successfully achieve a work-life balance because her job isn’t typical. Even though she is there for her family as much as she can be, she knows that she can still miss special moments.
“There’s a lot of self-imposed mom guilt. It feels like I’m missing out on things like oh my gosh, when I get back my daughter’s going to be an inch taller and she’s going to be saying five more words,” she said.
Though Norman has a lot on her plate, Norman chooses to make sacrifices and find the rewarding aspects of the work she does. She said that by demonstrating to her loved ones that she is going after her dreams, she hopes to inspire her family to follow their passions as well.
Norman enjoyed writing when she was young. In her sophomore year of high school, the early stages of her journalism career consisted of taking a journalism class that exposed her to basic reporting. She was so interested that she became editor-in-chief of her school newspaper in her junior and senior years, in which she wrote about whatever interested her in a monthly column.
Norman’s passion for journalism and news strengthened. She attended the University of Missouri, which she said had one of the best journalism programs. There, she yearned for the opportunity to do a summer internship in New York City with ABC, as she dreamed in high school.
“I applied to a million different internships and I didn’t hear back from like 98% of them,” she said.
However, Norman scored a job as a production assistant at local ABC-affiliate KMIZ for the morning show. Norman quickly got accustomed to doing early shifts before going to classes. She recalls making many sacrifices.
After all her efforts, Norman achieved her dream. She got a life-changing call in the middle of one of her classes to come to New York and intern for NewsOne at ABC during the summer. Doing this internship helped solidify that ABC was for her. “I ran out of class. I was so excited that I called my mom crying,” she said.
On the other hand, this internship didn’t work out the way Norman had hoped. She ended up “hating it,” but her experience further defined her career aspirations. She wanted to be in front of the camera rather than behind the scenes.
“People are usually caught off guard by that, but the good thing is I learned what I didn’t want, which is a lot of the time just as important as what you want,” she said.
As Norman figured out the types of media roles she wanted to look into, she approached this by deciding to go into local news. Often transferring from one location to the next, trying to take her reporting to the next level, Norman worked in Oklahoma and Florida.
Unexpectedly, Norman grew unhappy while working in Florida and wanted to leave. She met her husband on Tinder and moved to Washington D.C. to live with him. While she had no job at first, she quickly transitioned into a multi-platform reporter for ABC, despite the fact that she didn’t prefer covering politics. Since then, Norman has moved to NYC.
Norman chose not to give up when things didn’t go as planned. Instead of quitting or settling for a journalism gig that didn’t make her happy, she has a history of choosing to not compromise her passion for practicality and of working hard rather than getting discouraged.
“What legacy do I want to leave? I’m still not sure, but I definitely know I want to use the platform to connect with people. It’s the introvert in me that feels like I’m making a human one-on-one connection with someone.”