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Cydney Cooper MBA/ M.A. Morning Anchor for WDTV 5 News, shares how she overcame self-doubt for a life on the big screen
Ta’lor: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I want to start this interview off by asking you, who is Cydney Cooper?
Cydney: Cydney is the Anchor, the reporter, the host, the life of the party; the thinker, the motivator; the ever evolving, growing, and glowing young professional.
Ta’lor: I love that. These are such strong descriptions of how you see yourself. Do you think that your upbringing plays a role in how you are able to describe yourself?
Cydney: Definitely. Growing up around strong African-American women, doing what they have to do, teaches you to be your own version of that strength. My mother taught me how to be a strong woman and to know that I can reach my dreams if I put in the work. I think right now, I am not anywhere near where I hope to be in my life, but it is a continuous process. I would like to think that I am in the process of becoming the woman who I hope to one day be; someone who my children and my grandchildren down the line can really look up to and say “I know her.” My mom helped give me the confidence to feel good about myself in the good and the bad times.
Ta’lor: I feel the same way about myself; it is something we all have to push towards. Were education and life-long learning something that was instilled in you as a child?
Cydney: Yes. My mom was a single mother, and she did not initially graduate from her undergrad. She actually went back to college after she had me, and got her undergraduate degree and then went on to get her master’s. I think seeing her do that really made me want to do it in an easier way. I cannot imagine attaining any degree with a child. Can it be done? Absolutely, but I can imagine it being even more difficult with the responsibility of a child.
From Penn State to Point Park University, I was able to complete my undergrad and my masters degrees before the age of 26. I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me once I completed the educational aspect for my career plan. Now, all I have to concentrate on is trying to become more of a professional and grow in my industry.
I definitely think seeing my mom do it and struggle to do it, made me want to focus on my education and my career, first.
Ta’lor: I want to thank you for sharing this. So many of us grow up in single-parent homes and when we get older we can truly see our mothers sacrifices. Her example in attaining those degrees seems to have made you a stronger woman academically. Can you tell us about your experience at Penn State. Did you have a plan for what career path you wanted for yourself initially or did things change as you became a upperclasswoman?
Cydney: It’s really funny because I got into Penn State, but I did not get accepted to their main campus, I got into the Altoona, Pa campus. I was really bummed about that but I ended up loving it. I was involved in everything; the Black Student Union and many different clubs and organizations. The African-American community was much smaller in Altoona, compared to Penn State’s main campus, but honestly, the culture of the small campus and the intimate connections that I made with the other students there, was amazing. In my junior year, I transferred to Penn State main campus.
Before going to college, I wanted to major in Broadcast Journalism. I was told by so many people who I would not make any money in that form of business, so I got deterred and discouraged and ended up majoring in Public Relations (PR).
It’s funny because the week before I graduated with my bachelors, in a Psychology class I was taking, I was recommended to do an on camera green-screen activity, and the lady that was conducting the activity asked me if I ever considered a career in broadcast journalism. I told her that was my original plan when I came to Penn State, she expressed how personable I was on camera and how well I spoke, and I took that as a sign.
I graduated with a degree in PR and I did not have a job, so I decided to go back to school for my masters in Journalism and I also a masters in Business Administration in a special dual major program at Point Park University. I went straight through, got both of those degrees in two years, completed my internship, and then a few months after graduation, I was provided with the opportunity begin as a reporter; a really difficult industry to break into.
Looking back on it, I do wish that I would have had the confidence in myself and not listened to others negative opinions. I could have saved myself $60,000 in loans if I would have went with my gut, but in the end I am more marketable now, so all things happen for a reason. I am so grateful for learning to have faith and believe in myself and I feel so blessed for this experience.
Ta’lor: So much growth in such a short time. While at Penn State, was there anything specific that you learned from someone or an experience you had on the personal side of your growth as a woman?
Cydney: Well, I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority incorporated while at Penn State. Pledging AKA taught me so much about being a woman and a business woman. Many think about sorority life and only consider the party walking, line dancing and the fun, but we did work; programs multiple times a week, community service, fundraisers, and we won multiple awards as a chapter while doing so.
Pledging AKA taught me how to run a business. We always said that “Alpha Kappa Alpha is a sisterhood but it is also a business,” so we were taught as college students how to be professionals. I developed so many quality relationships with black women of all different backgrounds; I love my line sisters and I love my Prophyte’s.
The connections that I made are forever. Most of my sisters are located all over the U.S. and we help each other, and that is a great resource for support, help and assistance in networking and advancing as a professional. I definitely recommend to college freshman getting involved in different organizations, clubs and groups because you never know where those connections and relationships can take you in the future.
Ta’lor: What great advice Cyd. College is so much more than going to class and studying, a major part of it is networking and relationship building. So, going from graduating with a dual masters, you mentioned shortly after, you were hired as a Reporter, what was the transition or the turning point that got you from graduate to Reporter?
Cydney: I interned at KDKA News while I was in grad school and I built some really good relationships there with my News Director, Anne Linaberger. She was the one who recommended me for a position at WDTV 5 News. I reached out to her after I finished my internship; I still had not found any work after graduation. So she reached out to a former employee of hers, my current News Director, Nate Smail, and got me an interview at WDTV.
I got a call about two days later to come to West Virginia and visit the station. While I was there, it just felt right. After the interview later that evening, I got a call that I had got the position. I started out as a Reporter and then worked my way up to an Anchor, all in under 2 years.
Ta’lor: All in only 2 years, what an accomplishment Queen! You are doing your thing over there in WV. What would you say is the best thing about your job?
Cydney: Obviously every job has its ups and downs, but I would have to say being in front of the camera. It is a lot different from being in front of an audience, but I enjoy that aspect of putting on a performance, because whether I am happy or sad, I have to report the news in a compelling way.
I also do not mind Producing the news; it’s definitely something that is beginning to grow on me. Having the power and authority to put new things together to help make the show creative, is fun. I feel like I am a creative person having went to CAPA High School and spent four years in the arts, so being able to add my spin on what I would the news to be like, because the reality is, the news can be boring, but being able to add those fun segments and soft news, I think is something that I have tried to incorporate at WDTV.
Ta’lor: You mentioned that you were in the arts in high school and love performing, even if it was not something that you were planning to pursue, in the back of your mind, did you always have the desire to be on-screen?
Cydney: Honestly, I think I have always been a character; a bit dramatic and had a lot of personality. Being involved in the arts, that drama and desire to perform has always been inside of me. My years in the arts, I feel has really played a role in my professional career as a News Anchor. It is not 100% similar, but as I stated, reporting the news is like a performance.
Did I always see myself going this route as a career woman, I don’t remember saying to myself that I should be on TV; I don’t know if I ever had that confidence in myself early on. I knew that I wanted to be a star, to be good at what I did, and that I wanted to be confident, but I don’t think I ever said I want to be on television talking to thousands of people every day, but I love what I do.
Ta’lor: You are a very busy woman. What are some other interests that you have outside of spreading the news to thousands of people; what do you do to relax?
Cydney: Honestly, after reporting the news during the week, I truly enjoy not wearing makeup on the weekends, that is one of my favorite things. I love spending time with my man, watching documentaries, traveling, and watching old movies. I spend time with my mom and other family. When I have the time, I go out with friends. Traveling is something that I love to do. One of my passions is fashion. I love learning about different styles and piecing together outfits. I would definitely consider myself a fashionista.
Ta’lor: So the entire purpose of the Leading Lady Campaign is to highlight women who are making their mark on every level of the journey. What would you say a Leading Lady is to you?
Cydney: A Leading Lady is someone who doesn’t allow her past and the things that she has gone through to dictate her future. She learns from, not only her mistakes and the mistakes of those around her. She makes it up in her mind, that she will not allow herself to become a product of her mistakes, but instead, do something better for herself. She doesn’t wait for any man or woman to do something for her, she takes life by the hand and does it herself.
She is never afraid to ask for help, but she is not dependent on anyone to do anything for her. She is somebody who understands that she is always growing. No matter what level she reaches, there is always more that she can be doing and higher that she can go. She is determined to reach her highest potential.
Ta’lor: That is an awesome answer, LADYHOOD journey appreciates you! So, Ms. Cooper, my final question to you is, what advice would you give to a young lady that is trying to get into your field.
Cydney: To the people in my field, internships and making connections are extremely important. Make a good impression with your News Directors and other Reporters that you are working alongside, as you learn because you never know who has that connection that can lead you to that position. You do not have to wait until you are at the master’s level to start networking. It is really hard to enter into this industry, and most times, you will start at the bottom, however, if you work hard, the bottom will be there to teach you everything you need to learn and it only gets easier as you move up. Just be patient with yourself and give yourself time to grow.
For college girls and women in general, do not let your past dictate your future. Learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself for the mistakes that you have made. Don’t be afraid to help yourself get through the things that you have experienced, that is only going to make you a better person. I myself have spoken to a counselor when I felt I needed it to work on the things of my past so that they did not make an impact on the woman who I want to be. I think a lot of time it is frowned upon to get the help you need and work hard at the things you love. Build your resume and make yourself marketable. Be confident in yourself so that others can be confident in you.
Thank you Cydney Cooper. I appreciate you taking the time to open up and share some of your story with us and for giving other women the inspiration and the encouragement to never stop reaching their dreams.
Cydney Cooper went to the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), where she majored in dance. She then attended Pennsylvania State University, State College, where she majored in Public Relations, and went on to receive her Master of Arts Degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. While attaining her bachelors degree, she interned with Clear Channel Communications, in Pittsburgh, PA, at 96.1 Kiss Production. While at Point Park University, she was a Reporter/Anchor for U-View. At KDKA TV-News, she interned as a news reporter. Currently, she is a Morning Anchor/Reporter at WDTV 5 News/ WVFX Fox 10, in Bridgeport, West Virginia. Cydney is a narrator, a fact finder, and a voice for the citizens of North Central West Virginia. She serves as the morning Reporter, Anchor and Multi-media Journalist for WDTV 5 News/ WVFX Fox 10. She is dedicated to providing the people of NCWV with the most up-to-date and accurate news.
To follow Cydney Cooper, visit her website HERE, check out her Demo Reel below, and follow her on social media: