I would tell any aspiring journalist not to forget how important our job is - being the voice for the voiceless."
By: Nastasia Boulos
A Q&A with an Emmy award winning journalist using his platform to inspire others.
Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Lionel Moise, B.S.C. ’10, came to the University of Miami at the age of 16 with a plan to study medicine and become a doctor. But a day shadowing a UMTV reporter his sophomore year changed it all for the proud Haitian American. He fell in love with journalism, changed his major, and never looked back.
Ten years later, he’s a two-time Emmy award winner whose past work includes anchoring for CBS News in Chicago and hosting the number one business & news show on Facebook Watch for Business Insider. Now based in New York, he works as a radio anchor for ABC News.
We touched base with Moise to learn about his life, career, and drive to make an impact.
You said that you like to use your platform to open doors for others. What does that mean to you?
I know that one of the ways that I have an impact is through representation, simply because I have a platform on television. I’m very vocal about being black, being from Florida, being Haitian, being gay, being different, and encouraging others to treat each other with kindness. I think that’s the biggest thing.
The other aspect is that when we get into these jobs and positions, we have access. A lot of times we’re so focused on growing ourselves and our career, we forget about everyone else, we forget about the people who helped us. And this industry is so cut-throat, so I’m always looking for opportunities to bring someone else along with me or to connect them.
Can you talk about the impact of representation?
If you look at a lot of the unfortunate conversations that we’re having in our country now, we’re not accepting of one another, and there are stereotypes and narratives that people have about people from everywhere. So representation is extremely important.
And I do think that by being unapologetically myself and not hiding who I am, I am able to allow other people to see that they can be who they are. If I was a little boy and I turned on the TV and I saw a Haitian anchor on television, I probably would have considered it a little bit sooner. And I just hope that if one person watching a story that I do or watching our show walks away with that feeling then I’ve done something right.
Why do you love being a news anchor?
I love knowing what’s going in the world. I’ve always been very curious as a kid and someone who’s asked a lot of questions. In anchoring, we’re covering a little bit of everything, so I get to really tap into what’s going in my community locally and nationally. There’s a magic in television where you can connect with someone through a medium where you’re not seeing them but you know it makes an impact.
I also think that as an anchor it’s important to not just focus on the negative, which is why every job that I go to, I usually start with a segment or something that’s highlighting a positive in the community. We have to keep you safe and you’ll be tuning in when there’s a fire or there’s a shooting or a natural disaster. But there’s such great things that kids, and families, and people are doing in the community that can and should be highlighted. I think that we have a great opportunity to be able to showcase that and inspire others through the stories that we tell.
Can you think of someone who’s been very influential in your life?
My dad. He recently passed away, but that’s not why I’m remembering him. He had such a spirit of being in the moment and just being a good person.
He really did live and enjoy every moment. He tried to be such a good person to every person that he met, not because they could do something for him, or because of who they were, but simply because that’s how he believed he should be. I’ve seen him live his life that way and spreading love and being present and that is consequently what I’ve modeled my life off of now. I can become a millionaire news anchor and none of that leaves with me. But I know that impact that I have on others or the love that I spread – that is eternal.
What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Stay true to who you are. No matter how many difficult stories you have to cover, remember the humanity in them. It’s not just a shooting or a death or a debate or a law, these things affect our lives and they shape our future. I would tell any aspiring journalist not to forget how important our job is – being the voice for the voiceless. And being unbiased doesn’t mean turning into a robot. Our diverse journeys and experiences lead to more balanced storytelling that is reflective of the communities we serve.
And finally, why did you choose to be a ’Cane?
I always wanted to go to UM. I grew up seeing the ’Canes, and I had an older cousin who went to UM and studied film and she went on to L.A. to go into the film industry. But I always thought that it was something that I couldn’t afford.
I interviewed and applied for the Ronald A. Hammond scholarship which was full tuition, and that changed my life. Because that allowed me to go to school without the burden of worrying about finances and the same for my family. But also it allowed me to go to one of the top schools in the country and to then find my career, so I don’t know if I would’ve even gotten into journalism, had I not gone to UM and seen what they were doing on campus, and so that scholarship is one that I am forever grateful for.