Excellence in Action
Naibe Reynoso ’95
Interviewed by Stephen Mendoza • September 8, 2017
Describe your career path from UCLA to your current role.
What can you do with a major in Sociology and an emphasis in Psychology and Chicano Studies? I wasn’t sure either! In fact, I didn’t know what career path to follow until my senior year at UCLA when I discovered my passion for storytelling. Although I still wasn’t exactly sure what I would end up doing professionally, I knew I wanted to do something in the creative space like writing, filmmaking or producing. To get my feet wet, I took some film and television classes and got an internship with Univision News through a UCLA internship program. That internship proved invaluable as I was able to experience a working newsroom, meet people, and later, through connections I made, get my first on-air position. But my first job straight out of UCLA was as a production assistant at Warner Bros. for “The Drew Carey Show.” I got the job after attending a career fair at UCLA where I met recruiters for the studio and the rest, as they say, is history.
How does Sociology tie into your career in journalism and media?
A general definition of sociology is the systematic study of human society, culture and relationships on a group level. Journalism is pretty much the same thing. As a journalist, you must look at events happening in society in an unbiased way. You have to dissect what’s going on and learn to not judge what’s right or what’s wrong but simply report what’s happening and give it context. That is exactly what sociology does. I learned to make the connection while writing a research paper about Univision News. I named it “Content and Conscience of KMEX Channel 34 Newscast,” and I dissected what type of stories made the “news” and interviewed the News Director and producers. I had to examine the newscasts, categorize the content, and analyze the data from a sociological standpoint. My professor submitted my paper to the American Sociological Association and I was invited to participate in their 1994 annual meeting called ‘The Challenge of Democratic Participation.” I was in a student roundtable co-sponsored by the Honors Program Student Association.
What inspired you to choose this career path?
In the mid 90’s there weren’t many Latina role models on television, in news or in the creative space, so it didn’t even register that I could go into that field. As a senior at UCLA, without a clear vision of my future, I had to do some deep soul searching and be honest with myself to figure out what my next steps would be after graduation. At the time, the Arsenio Hall show was one of my favorite TV shows because I loved that he was able to put a spotlight on his community, which at the time was underrepresented on television talk shows. That’s when something clicked and I had my a-ha moment. I felt that pursuing a career in media, would allow me to merge my two passions which are storytelling and supporting my community.
How did your UCLA experience help shape your success?
When I was going to UCLA, there was something very interesting happening. In 1993, there was a major protest and hunger strike at UCLA where students, some of which were my friends, were fighting to create a Chicano/Chicana Studies Department. At the time, I was an intern at Univision News and I encouraged the news director to cover this story and offered contacts for interviews. That’s when I knew that if I worked in media, my unique perspective on my community would be invaluable in a newsroom. It also gave me confidence in my journalistic instincts and helped me discover the power of the media. Also, getting a job at Warner Bros. through the career fair at UCLA , and participating in the UCLA internship program really shaped the formative years of my career.
In what ways have you utilized the UCLA alumni network?
I frequently meet fellow UCLA Alums in my field and there is an immediate connection. I am also participating in a ‘Careers in Sociology’ Alumni panel, where I will share my insights to UCLA Sociology students. Additionally, I signed up to participate in the UCLA Alumni Mentor Program that connects Alumni with students.
What has been your greatest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
I would say that there have been two big career challenges. The first one is that jobs in media, especially on-camera, don’t have a long life span. In other words, it’s rare for you to have the same on-camera job for 10 to 15 years. When one project ends, you’re not sure what’s coming next. With experience, I’ve learned to accept that it’s just part of the business. You just have to keep updating your reel and resume, keep believing in yourself, and most-importantly keep reinventing yourself as an entertainment or media professional. The second challenge is the fact that media and entertainment is an ever-changing landscape. Social media has also revolutionized the way media is consumed and created. I’ve had to learn to adapt and use tools like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on, to keep up. You need to be in-tune with the new technologies and adapt because it’s a field that is constantly evolving.
What advice would you give to UCLA students and alumni interested in Broadcast Media & Entertainment?
I have three pieces of advice. My first is to intern. When a company is looking to hire it’s more likely they will look into their pool of interns for an entry-level position. You also make invaluable connections and build your network. My second piece of advice is don’t wait until you get your dream job to start doing your dream job. If you want to be an on-camera reporter, you can start doing reports on your Instagram Stories, or on Facebook live. If you want to be a journalist, you can start a blog or a podcast about whatever topic interests you including politics, fashion, or entertainment. Lastly, join media, journalism, or entertainment organizations and groups. These groups will provide resources and networking opportunities. I’m a member of NAHJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and CCNMA which is the California Chicanos News Media Association. I frequently attend their events, meetings and conferences. There are also Facebook groups you could join created specifically for people in media where information like job postings and other opportunities are posted.
How do you support and participate in the UCLA community now?
I feel like the UCLA community is really strong and the Bruin spirit is passionate. I still keep in touch with a lot of my UCLA friends including my old roommates. We share a lot of information about politics, our careers, our families, and what’s going on in our community.
I would also love to have interns from UCLA for the current project I’m working on now. Additionally, I recently reached out to the Sociology department to see how I can participate in future events which require help from Alumni with a Sociology degree.
What makes you most proud to be a Bruin?
I’m very proud that UCLA first of all, is a public school that embraces students of all racial, religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. I am proud that UCLA welcomes and supports students without regard to their immigration status, and they stand with and for undocumented students. To me, that proves that UCLA is an institution that values students as people first. Also, I’m proud that the school strives for excellence and is always evolving to fit the needs of the community and of the world at large.
In 2016, I co-created, an English-language talk show that I also co-host called “The Trend Talk Show.” We strive to put a spotlight on the accomplishments of the Latino community, and I’m very excited to have this platform that features my community in a positive light.
Currently, we are producing our second season and although the show is only seen in Los Angeles, my long term goal is to syndicate it so it can be viewed nationally. There are a lot of exciting partnerships we are working on to make that happen. Additionally, I am the anchor for the LA county channel. They have a weekly newscast where we feature everything that’s going on in LA County, including initiatives to reduce homelessness and resources to increase the health index of our region.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Stephen Mendoza earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from UCLA in 2018. Prior to joining the Partnership UCLA / Alumni Career Programs team as a student staff member, Stephen had successfully completed internships with Ernst & Young, J.P. Morgan, and Disney. Through the Excellence in Action alumni spotlight series, Stephen expanded his network, met successful business professionals, and shared their advice and life experiences with the greater UCLA community. Stephen is now building his career as a Financial Analyst with Wells Fargo Corporate Banking.
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