TheGrio's 100: T.J. Holmes, News anchor leaves CNN for BET
CNN news anchor T.J. Holmes shocked the world when he announced last year that he was resigning from his position and moving to BET. Some say it’s a risky move, going from a venerable 24-hour news channel to an entertainment-driven station. But Holmes sees it as an opportunity to reach out and report on stories that directly affect the African-American community.
Before his CNN days, Holmes worked his way up the local news station chain, starting out in Joplin, Missouri, before moving on to Little Rock, Arkansas and San Francisco. He graduated from the University of Arkansas, and in 2007 was honored with the school’s Young Alumni Award.
Holmes’ talent deal with BET includes having his own show and producing original content for BET.com.
T.J. Holmes is making history … as one of a few of major cable network news anchors of color, and one of the most recognized black male anchors on television. While working for CNN, he has been an anchor on various CNN programs and covered major national and international stories, including the 2006 execution of Sadam Hussein and the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
What’s next for T.J.?
It’s unclear how BET will use Holmes’ skills in the coming months, but he told TheRoot he could not pass up the opportunity to be able to speak to his own community directly. “I think [beefing up its news programming] was a big part of BET wanting me to come on board, and a big part of me wanting to come on board. BET is saying, ‘Here is what we’re trying to do, and we’re taking it so seriously that we went to go get this guy with this [news] background.’”
In his own words …
“They brought me on because of my news background and for my news chops,” Holmes told TheRoot about his move to BET. “I think many people in the black community would like to turn the TV on when they get home, or even in the morning, to see news coverage about things that matter to them, coming from people who look like them and talk like them. We have a great opportunity to do that next year, and I hope to play a huge role.”
A little-known fact about blacks in the media…
African-Americans are still not well-represented in mainstream media. For instance, the number of African-Americans working at mainstream newspapers dropped 34 percent between 2000 and 2011, according to the American Society of News Editors.
THE GRIO’S Q & A WITH TJ HOLMES
Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?
A: I’m entering a critical chapter in my life and career. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone of traditional news to follow a different path. I think this path comes with great opportunity but also an awesome responsibility to the African-American community. I’ve been afforded the chance to have a more visible and vocal presence in my community. These opportunities don’t come along that often.
Q: What’s a little fact about you that many people don’t know?
A: I don’t think people know what my dreams jobs would be: 1) Governor of Arkansas or 2) basketball coach. Another little thing people don’t know: the ‘T’ and the ‘J’ in my name don’t really stand for anything.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: “Security with agony is neither security nor progress.”
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
A: On a daily basis, I draw my inspiration from my life experiences. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, and I’ve had to overcome a lot of challenges. So, now, when a challenge presents itself, I have great confidence that I’ll make it through. But also, I know I’ve had it relatively easy compared to many others. I’ve visited orphanages in Arusha, Tanzania. I’ve been to a V.A. hospital to visit with a U.S. soldier who came back from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury. I’ve walked the streets on the Southside of Chicago with a teenager who worries about bullets flying on the walk to school. I’ve talked to countless parents of murdered children. Those life experiences keep my life experiences in perspective, and I’m always reminded of how blessed I am … and I refuse to squander the blessings I’ve had. That inspires me.
Q: Who are/were your mentors?
A: Byron Pitts has been a great mentor and friend for the past 5 years, probably more than he even realizes. Bernard Shaw has given me perfect words of wisdom. Juan Piggee is my best friend and has been taking care of me since my freshman year of college. Also, my sister, Tish. I’m so proud of her and in awe of her. And, she mentors me on a daily basis. Actually, she probably gets tired of mentoring me!
Q. What advice would you give to anyone who’s craving to achieve their dreams?
A: Don’t have dreams … have goals!