Today’s guest wears multiple hats including, correspondent, host and actress. As an author, Melissa McCarty is here to talk about her book, News Girls Don’t Cry.
Melissa McCarty is a seasoned television news reporter and anchor. She’s been reporting the ‘late breaking stories’ for nearly fifteen years. She earned her stripes in small markets such as Grand Junction, Colorado, and Amarillo, Texas.
She made a name for herself in Las Vegas, where her investigative reports made national headlines and served as the basis for an episode of CSI. One of her undercover investigations ended with an arrest, several felony charges, and freed three women kidnapped and forced into a life of prostitution.
After three years of reporting for ABC, Melissa was hired by CBS-2 and KCAL-9 news, the duopoly in Los Angeles, as the go-to Breaking News field reporter, where she often led multiple newscasts for more then five years.
She has appeared as an actress in several television shows such as ABC's Revenge, BET's Real Husbands of Hollywood, NBC’s Chuck, FOX's Lie To Me, HBO's Big Love, and films such as 'In Sight' and 'Coldwater Canyon'.
For the past year, Melissa has been the host for Newsbreaker a division of ORA TV a new cutting edge TV network online created by the legend Larry King and Carlos Slim.
Melissa continues to lecture to journalism students at universities in the Southern California area and periodically speaks to “at risk” teens for community organizations.
Her book News Girls Don't Cry is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com
Welcome, Melissa. Please tell us about your current release.
News Girls Don’t Cry is a story about family, an inspiring story of overcoming adversity, grabbing second chances and becoming happy with your voice, with your choices. The crutch of the story is about loving someone with mental illnesses and addictions. The book follows siblings growing up best friends but torn apart over the years, as one sacrifices it all to succeed and accomplish a seemingly impossible goal of becoming a Newscaster, the other falls deep into darkness a world of gangs, violence, drugs and alcohol all while trying to understand what was brewing inside; undiagnosed mental illnesses. Melissa’s brother, her hero growing up, is bi-polar with severe social phobias who spent years self medicating as no one in the family new about the signs and symptoms of mental illness. So even as she calmly reported the nightly headlines on TV, often times the topics were similar struggles unfolding in her personal life. As she reported the news her brother was making the news. In NGDC Melissa confronts the memory demons of her past, her regrets, and guilts and explores, as many career woman do, what hardened her along the way and how she turned it all around. How her brother turned his life around and chose life rather than risking death each day.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration to NGDC was my brother. Seeing his courage to overcome his mental warfare each day, his addictions made me realize what I prioritized as important, my career was not, what matters is family and not turning your back regardless of how difficult they make it. His struggles are similar to millions and my raw, honest and intense account of our journey will help others.
Excerpt: Chapter 1
My Glamorous Life and Other Fallacies
At the age of twenty-two, only recently graduated from college, I conducted my first live news broadcast in Grand Junction, Colorado. I stood next to a dead child whose tiny body was covered by nothing but a thin cloth. I was barely able to speak, deeply shaken by the family on bended knees wailing at the feet of their baby. The father had been pulling out of his driveway for a trip to the market, unaware that his four-year-old had snuck out the door and run behind the SUV to join him.
I became fixated on the tiny foot poking out from under the sheet. Quietly hyperventilating, I wanted to scream at someone to have the decency to cover it.
In the many years since then, I have, in my role as a newscaster, seen hundreds of lifeless or injured bodies, and witnessed up-close, distraught and hysterical parents, children, siblings, friends and bystanders. The bodies come in every manner and demeanor and disfiguration: decapitated, dismembered, bloodied, and bloated. I’ve stepped in blood, feces, brain matter and more.
It’s something I’ve never gotten used to. I did expect that my ability to stomach such scenes would grow over time; others told me it would. I expected that I’d become desensitized to it and be able to efficiently and effectively report on it and move to the next assignment. Isn’t that what police officers, firefighters and first responders learn to do? Why couldn’t I?
Long after the cameras were turned off, the images and the back-stories lingered in my mind, memories stacking up like books on library shelves. Regardless of the “I’m tough” armor I strapped on for work each day, the images lived on in me and replayed themselves over and over. Visions of death haunted me at night; the sounds of screaming, pain-filled crying and shrieking robbed my sleep. Tragic accidents, terrible crimes, devastating fires- and the faces and tears of the family and friends upon learning about the demise of their loved ones—seared my memory.
In other words, I did become desensitized—but not in the way I had been told. In response to the continuous exposure to horrific events, I distanced myself—walled myself off emotionally, even from family, friends, and boyfriends. If they didn’t understand why I had become so remote, they weren’t alone: quite frankly, I wasn’t really aware of it myself. Not at the time. I had learned to live in the real time of tragedy. The broad shoulders and brave face—smiling, practiced, emotionally-restrained—of the newscaster were a crucial part of my professional life. That persona allowed me to offer up the facts and shed light on the issues of the day. It gave me the strength to counsel others in their time of sorrow and pain.
But it was also who I became all the time, even in my private life. I couldn’t turn the channel off. I could easily tell someone else’s story: families triumphing over illness, accident, or cruel fate. But I struggled with accepting and supporting similar needs in my own family . . . and myself.
All my life I’ve had an unrelenting drive toward success, yet I worked to keep secret the upbringing that fueled that ambition. I was afraid of being judged for where I came from and who I was then. I kept my past hidden from everyone: the camera, my colleagues, the brass, even many of my friends. Almost no one knew about my stormy personal history, one that could have made me a subject for the evening news rather than the reporter. Given where I came from—the family that I both loved and endured—it’s remarkable that I didn’t end up on the other end of the microphone.
In other words, for a woman in her thirties I have a lot of baggage. I’m not going to say had a lot of baggage—because I still do. There will always be baggage. I grew up with it. But the thing about baggage is that it can’t stay in the closet for too long; it has a way of strapping itself around your ankle like a ball and chain—and insisting on going everywhere with you. It lives in your brain, governs your actions, and colors your sense of self-worth.
Ironically, it was the same career that I used to push me forward that taught me about myself and helped me turn my life around. Reporting on the difficulties of other people was what forced me, finally, to not only confront the realities of my own past, but accept and learn from them.
Which brings me to my family . . . especially Mikey.
What project are you working on next?
The next phase for me is my transition back into TV which I’m excited about. I stepped away for a year for this book and to work with a legend Larry King at his company ORA TV an online network. Now I’m ready and excited to head back to TV.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In my heart I was a writer since high school. It’s when I’d sit for hours and days writing poetry and reading each one to my friends. I became a paid writer right after college.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
After college I became a paid writer/anchor/field reporter so I’ve been writing about ten hours a day for almost 15 years.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love to write with intensity, I dramatize often. Some would call me and my writing dramatic but I think in color, I am drama, I am intense, and it’s just my personality. But I see how others think it’s too much! Ha.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a supermodel. Then I wanted to be a life coach for troubled kids. So, I combined the two and chose broadcasting for the vanity and for the community! :o) wink, wink
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I exposed my deepest thoughts for purpose. I exposed my life and my brother’s life to help others relate, learn, and realize we are stronger then we give ourselves credit for, we can endure much and love even more.