Jazmin Bailey, WESH 2 News Anchor and Rising Star Award Recipient, Weighs in on her First Book and Professional Career
Coming off the release of her Amazon-bestselling novel, “The Woman with the Oil: Baring All And Healing From The Inside Out,” news anchor and MSU School of Journalism alumna Jazmin Bailey is no stranger to professional success.
Moving from the classroom to the studio, Bailey has acquired nearly a decade of journalistic experience, and it shows through the accolades she has received for her work. Bailey won a 2017 Emmy Award for her work with WESH 2 News in Orlando. In April, she will receive the Rising Star award from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in recognition of her success early in her career.
Finding an Interest in Journalism
Bailey’s passion for journalism sprouted at a young age. She loved watching the morning news. In particular, two anchors and one hilarious meteorologist brightened her mood on cold winter mornings. Bailey stated she watched the news almost obsessively as a child in hopes for snow days, and ended up falling in love with the world of live television broadcast.
“One of the anchors was a black woman named Danita Harris. I wanted to be her. I saw myself in her. She was quick on her feet, witty and seemed to know a little about everything,” said Bailey. “I couldn’t help but notice how much fun Danita and the rest of the team seemed to have each day. I just thought, ‘That’s what I want to be when I grow up!’”
This pursuit brought Bailey to Michigan State University and ComArtSci. More specifically, the young journalist explored her talents in Focal Point, a course that allows students to conduct meaningful journalism and make industry connections.
“The opportunities that were given to me in the Journalism program forced me to sink or swim. This was real journalism,” said Bailey.
The courses in the MSU School of Journalism taught Bailey tough lessons. She vividly remembers failing one of her first reporting courses because of a factual error on a weighted assignment. That moment taught Bailey that fact checking was essential to journalism. She took this knowledge into her career and cited it as a lesson she would never forget in the future.
Journalist, News Anchor and Role Model
Bailey ventured into different roles after graduating. She took an almost nomadic route, moving from station to station, from state to state, until landing on the sunny coasts of Orlando. By the time Bailey joined her current news team, WESH 2, she had flexed her skills as a producer, reporter and anchor on various morning shows.
“My journalism is all about people and authenticity. I prioritize people — either how they’ve already been impacted by the day's news or how they’ll feel hearing what I’m about to deliver — each time I’m reading and telling a story,” said Bailey. “I consider them. Taking a moment to consider why the stories I’m reading matter to my audience helps me to remember that these are real people who listen each day.”
Over the years, Bailey has realized how much viewers look up to and consider TV personalities their role models. Bailey got to see this in action after deciding to wear her natural hair on the station’s morning show. As a reporter in Florida’s intense heat, Bailey found herself repeatedly straightening her hair to look “presentable” for public broadcast. When her hair’s health started to decline, Bailey ditched the straightener and embraced the beauty of her natural hair. Even though she’s opted to no longer wear her curls, positive reactions from her viewers still flood in.
“It’s a really strange feeling knowing people look up to me,” said Bailey, “like I get Facebook messages from people who watch me saying how happy they are to be represented, that their kids watch me on their TV.”
The broadcast that earned her an Emmy nomination came on a day Bailey knew would be different than the typical morning show. The Spartan said she could sense something major was going to happen.
“By 9 a.m., right before the show was to end, my boss walked into the studio and told us we were staying on air indefinitely. That was the day two Orlando law enforcement officers died. We stayed on air until 2 p.m., when our evening team took over. We won an Emmy for our breaking news coverage that day.”
Authoring Personal Success
Bailey is much more than an accomplished journalist: the Emmy winner can now add ‘bestselling author’ to her credentials with the release of her autobiographical memoir: “The Woman with the Oil: Baring All and Healing from the Inside Out.” In the book, she recalls her toxic marriage and how she triumphed over the domestic abuse that accompanied it.
Bailey hoped that with her position in the media, viewers would be able to see a more relatable and vulnerable version of the Bailey they see on screen.
“My book has created opportunities for me to develop a deeper bond with the people of Central Florida. I’ve been invited to speak at countless community events, and in these smaller settings, viewers have been able to learn about me as a person,” said Bailey. “No longer am I just a pretty woman on TV who speaks eloquently and wears nice clothes. Now, I’m the woman who’s bold enough to speak her truth and be unapologetic about maintaining her peace.”
Upon release, “The Woman With the Oil: Baring All and Healing Inside Out” debuted at #1 in Amazon’s Divorce category.
As a young alumna, Bailey will join six distinguished alumni at The Celebration on Saturday, April 18, as they are recognized for success in their careers. The event is open to the public.
By John Castro