Media Personality: Shari Nycole
Q: Who is Shari (Shu-Ree) Nycole?
A: I’m a purpose driven person and professional. A television producer and media personality. I lead with my heart in pretty much everything I do, and that is with intention. I’m an intense creative who always looks for the value in not only the world around me, but the stories of those I encounter.
Q: What steps did you take to get you to where you are currently?
A: The biggest step I took was faith. I think back on my journey, how I ended up where I am currently, and how I had to face and overcome some of the doubts and demons I had in undergrad. All of that brings me back to my faith. I went through a period of depression my sophomore year in college when I played at the University of Wisconsin. I was a student athlete there. It was a couple of reasons why I was disenchanted with the basketball program there as well as my studies.
I was fighting to get into the Business School, and I don’t know why, because I didn’t even like Math. So, I’m struggling in all these classes, and I got to a place where I had an academic advisor tell me “You may want to try out the Journalism program. Your ACT scores look great and I think you could you do well.” She really set the precedent for how I would move forward in my life and career. After transferring to Northern Illinois University, I fell in love with television in front of and behind the camera.
I connected with, Dr. Todd Yeary, one of my mentors and professors at Northern Illinois University. He ultimately pushed me to pursue my Master’s Degree at The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. I learned so much at Medill and had a great experience there. My academic and professional journey has always been about who God divinely connects me with. It has been all about ensuring that regardless of what happens in my personal or professional life, I won’t stop.
I think sometimes we get discouraged very quickly when things don’t work out how we think they should. But I think God’s ultimate design is not in the straightaways, but it’s in the diagonals of life. He’s taken me all over the place. I’ve worked in Chicago, DC, and now in Atlanta. The zigzags that have built my career have ultimately shaped me into an entrepreneur and someone who has developed her own platforms to be able to share her story, her perspective, and the stories and perspectives of so many other people.
The biggest take away for me has been being open to whoever God has destined for me to connect with and also being open to the versatility I’ve come to not just loathe but appreciate: Being a “one-man band.” Someone who can pick up a camera and go, who can produce a show and go, who gets in front of the camera and goes, who can interview whoever and go, who can edit whatever and go. I just want to make sure that if I don’t have anyone on my team, I can not only sustain, but I can succeed.
Q: What you’re currently working on?
A: Currently, I’m working at Essence Magazine full time. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me. I’m very grateful to be able to work with such a prestigious company that speaks to the hearts of Black women. That aligns with where my heart is.
In addition to that, I am hosting my podcast, ‘Just A Thought with Shari Nycole,’ which is doing really well. It’s available on all digital streaming platforms. I’m also the Co-host of ‘The Willie Moore Jr. Show.’ It’s really a blessing and an honor to be co-hosting a nationally syndicated radio show with one of the most humble, amazing and talented human beings I’ve ever come across. That human being is Willie Moore Jr.
I’m also the host of ‘The Gray Area,’ which is a weekly radio show on Philly’s Favor, 100.7 FM. It airs every Sunday night at 7:00 PM. All in all, I’m now putting myself in position to truly enjoy the success, gifts, and blessings God has given me. I’m very excited about becoming the whole person and woman I aspire to be.
Q: What inspired you to choose the path that you’re following?
A: I wasn’t inspired to produce. I was more scared of what it took initially to be a personality and to be talent, which pushed me into producing first. My desire was to always be a host, a correspondent, someone who had their own talk show. I never wanted to be a producer. But I was good at it, and I had a love for creating content, but it didn’t outweigh the love I had for being in front of the camera.
When I got out of grad school, my professors told me, you can definitely be on camera talent, but you may have to move to more of a remote town, start in a small market, be away from your family, and not make that much money. That didn’t sound good to me. I decided to take the producing track in hopes I could produce my way back to the front of the camera. They told me, if I started out as a producer, I would make more money sooner and be able to move up in the ranks.
I took the producing route and made it my mission to get in front of the right people and work my way to the front of the camera. Things didn’t pan out the way I planned. Over the course of 10 years, I got so good at producing, people weren’t really open to putting me in front of the camera. Once COVID came and things got shut down, life changed for all of us. I was working at ‘Sister Circle Live’ as a producer, and that ended abruptly.
I was then put in a position where I had to make a decision, stop making scapegoats out of my previous employers, and start creating content on my own. I went on Instagram Live and started doing interviews. I reached out to all the people I had met over the years in the industry. Whether it be publicists, managers, and/or celebrities, I had built solid working relationships with. My content got seen by the right people and it turned into my podcast, ‘Just A Thought W/ Sharí Nycole.’ From my podcast content being seen, I got ‘The Gray Area,’ which is one of my radio shows.
A few months after securing ‘The Gray Area,’ an amazing three-year working relationship I built with Willie Moore Jr. led to a co-hosting position on ‘The Willie Moore Jr. Show.’ This was at the top of 2021.
God just started opening doors for me once I decided I wasn’t going to keep closing doors on myself. I think it’s important for all of us, especially content creators, to really be mindful about not making other people our reason to not do what we should be doing.
I had every tool in my toolkit. I could edit, get in front of a camera, and speak. I could interview. I could produce my own content. I could book my own guests. Whatever was needed for me to do the show and put out content I desired, I had the ability to do it. Once I actually owned that and started doing it, here I am today.
I have the pleasure and gift of being able to create content that I love, that I believe in, that I’m proud of. I hope people are enjoying and getting something out of it. My goals go beyond simply entertaining people. I really want to prompt people to think critically not only about the things I’m saying but also the things other people are saying.
When I interview people, I want them to feel free to lay on the pillow I provided for them of transparency and just share. When we do that that’s when people can have a real experience, that’s when they can heal and that’s when their perspective can be altered. I really pride myself on confronting truth beautifully in a way that is bold but not abrasive. Hopefully I’m doing that.
Q: Can you tell me about any awards or recognitions you have won?
A: As a producer, I’ve been nominated for a couple NAACP Image Awards, during my time with ‘News One Now’ on TVOne. It’s always an honor to be acknowledged by the NAACP Image Awards, and gratefully I’ve also been a voting member for the last two years. Most recently, I received the Content Creator of the Year Award via Black Media Honors. People use this cliché all the time, but it’s so true, “I’m just happy to be honored,” and I was.
I think as a producer and even as a content creator, sometimes it’s a thankless job and when something goes wrong you’re the first-person people point at. You’re kind of in the shadows, but without you, things don’t move. When you’re so used to being relegated to the shadows and then someone brings you up front, it feels foreign for somebody to say, “Hey great work. You win something!” I was very honored to win that award.
Another form of recognition I’m grateful for, is the feature article that was done on me in Forbes Magazine. This is something I would have never thought would happen for me, especially as I’m still trying to climb the ladder to where I ultimately want to be in this industry.
I want to acknowledge Stephanie Davis for all of her hard work and really venturing out and starting Black Media Honors, which is growing and morphing into something really special. I’d like to shout out everybody who has led the way as far as the NAACP image awards are concerned, and I’d like to thank the Forbes organization for taking a chance on someone like myself and giving me an opportunity to shine and share my story. I do not take it lightly at all.
Q: What has been your favorite project to work on to date?
A: I’ve done several documentary projects in the last year or so, and I have to say they’ve probably been my favorite because at the time, I was able to work with not only colleagues but friends. I think when you’re able to work with people who know you and you know them, there’s a level of creative chemistry you innately and naturally have and cultivate that really makes for a fascinating work experience.
The ‘One Stage To The Next’ docu-series was my favorite project to work on to date, because of how much I enjoyed the field production process. It was intense, fun, and a true bonding experience for everyone who was involved. ‘One Stage To The Next’ captures Syleena Johnson’s powerful journey to becoming a fitness competitor. The project ultimately got placed on TV One and being able to executive produce that docu-series alongside Syleena and play a part in telling her story was an honor.
It was great to be able to infuse my passion for fitness and also merge that with the heart I have to tell great stories.
Q: How does it feel to meet celebrities? Is there anything particular you do to prepare when you meet them?
A: I don’t get star struck or anything like that. I’ve been in the industry for almost 12 years, so meeting or knowing celebrities is just really a part of my life at this point. Many of these people are colleagues of mine or friends, and so at the end of the day, I just see them as people.
There’s no special approach I have other than respect. Being respectful of their craft, being respectful of their time, being respectful of their privacy and the space they need to even prepare to talk to me during interviews. I want to always come into any conversation with anyone, celebrity or not, prepared. I think that’s a disservice you do to people, when you’re in their presence to interview them, and you’re not prepared to talk to them.
The only thing I want to ever do when it comes to my interaction with celebrities professionally, is give them an opportunity to have a safe space. I want them to trust me enough to share things they haven’t shared with other outlets. That requires me to be studied so I can come up with concepts and questions they haven’t heard during their press runs.
During press junkets most celebrities are asked the same questions. That redundancy is exhausting, so I work to differentiate myself from that redundancy, and I try to think deeply about not only their project but who they are. Overall, I think there’s a lack of empathy for people who are public figures, because often times people for whatever reason don’t view them as human. We all need to do a better job of humanizing celebrities, and this is not to diminish their accomplishments.
Q: If you weren’t in TV, radio, and film, what would you be doing?
A: I’d probably be an entertainment lawyer. I really considered going to law school when I got out of undergrad. I took a media law class in college, and at first, I really struggled, and then I ultimately got to a place where I fell in love with it and became enamored by law. If I wasn’t doing what I do now I’d probably be an entertainment lawyer or something like that.
Q: What future projects do you have planned this year?
A: I definitely want to release my e-book, and in conjunction with that, I also want to release a couple of e-course/ master classes that really can give young creatives more insight and perspective into not only how to do this business but what it takes to sustain in this business. I think there’s a lot of intangible things we’re just not having conversations about, whether it be in school or in our everyday lives that these young people need to hear. So, I want to be able to do that with those two efforts in particular.
Then, there’s a couple creative concepts rummaging through my mind. They’re pretty extensive. One is a docuseries concept, and the other is a scripted series. I haven’t done anything scripted in my career, but I’ve always had a fascination with the genre. I look forward to developing that and running that past some of my friends and colleagues in the industry, getting their take and trying to see where things go from there. I think that’s enough to hold me for the next year or two, along with the five million jobs I have.
Those are the primary things, along with making sure I’m always intentional about working on myself and making sure I maintain my holistic health. Speaking of that, I’m also a fitness enthusiast and being a former athlete I’m always trying to be in the best body possible. I had aspirations to do a fitness shoot last year, and it didn’t happen, but I’m back to pursuing that. I’m training six days a week, and I plan to do a fitness shoot for my birthday this summer. I hope my fitness journey encourages other creatives to take their health and wellness seriously.