Two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Mara Schiavocampo has covered nearly every major news story of the last decade, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Sandy, the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Gulf oil spill, the Haiti earthquake and the 2008 presidential election.
Currently a correspondent for ABC News and “Good Morning America,” Schiavocampo has previously worked with NBC, MSNBC, and served as an international contributor for a number of outlets, including Current TV, Yahoo!, and NPR, as well as being a special correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” A pioneer of new media journalism, the University of Maryland grad was the first reporter of her kind in network television to travel the world producing, shooting, reporting and editing video pieces for broadcast in addition to blogging and shooting still photos.
Most recently, the longtime National Association of Black Journalists member became a best-selling author with the release of her book, THINspired, which details how she lost 90 pounds after the birth of her daughter.
Rolling out recently sat down with Schiavocampo to discuss her career in journalism, her inspirations, and how she became THINspired.
How did you get your start in journalism?
When I was in college at UCLA, I decided I wanted a job that would allow me to write. I started writing for the college paper, The Daily Bruin. From there, I went to graduate school for broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland.
Was there an “aha” moment when you knew for sure that this is what you wanted to do?
I got my first internship during graduate school. It was the first time I’d ever been in a working newsroom. I absolutely loved it. It felt like magic and I knew I was in the right place.
What the best and worst part of your job?
The best part is getting to meet different people from all walks of life, people I’d likely never otherwise cross paths with. The worst part is witnessing some of the immense suffering that accompanies tragedy. That’s heartbreaking.
Tell us about your new book, Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds: My Plan for Lasting Weight-Loss and Self-Acceptance.
After I had my daughter three years ago, I was 90 pounds overweight. I was determined to lose the weight, and I did, slowly and little by little. At some point, a lot of people started asking me how I was doing it. This book is the answer to that, sharing the lessons I’ve learned.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about dieting and weight loss?
That diet and exercise are equals. They are not. When it comes to weight loss, cleaning up your diet is 70 percent of the battle.
Can you share the diet formula that ultimately worked for you?
I focused 70 percent of my energy on food, 10 percent on sleep, 10 percent on planning, and 10 percenton exercise. To this day, that’s my recipe for success!
Recently your sister, Pia, has gotten press with her ideas about diet and exercise that appear to be the opposite of yours. Is there somewhat of a playful sibling rivalry there?
It may seem like we’re polar opposites, but really we arrived in a very similar place: self-acceptance. We have taken very different paths to get there. But what matters at the end of the day is that we’re both happy!
What are you thoughts on the progress made by women of color in journalism?
I am so encouraged and proud of women like Robin Roberts, Tamron Hall, Gayle King, and others. At the same time though, women of color often have to fight the hardest for true opportunity, and that needs to change.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
I have to admit, I’m much more of an observer than a sharer! I prefer to be a social media consumer, so I’m a little reserved in how I use it. Mostly it’s limited to professional promotion.
What accomplishment makes you most proud?
Personally, it’s my daughter, Nina, although I can’t really classify her as an “accomplishment,” because only God can do that! But ridiculously proud of my angel nonetheless. Professionally, it would be my second Emmy Award for anchoring coverage of the Boston Marathon manhunt. We all worked really hard that night and I’m so proud of what we did and for being recognized for it.
Who inspires you?
I’m always inspired by people who have succeeded despite the odds, people like Oprah and Jay Z. Given the circumstances they were born into, the chances of them accomplishing what they have were so tiny. But they made it happen. That motivates me a lot.
Any favorite affirmations?
It doesn’t get easier. You get stronger.
What’s the last great book you read?
The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson. I reread it about once a year.
Any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring journalists?
Get to know as much of the world as possible. That doesn’t have to mean travel, that can mean hanging out in a different part of your city, or going to religious service with a friend of a different faith. It’s really important for journalists to have a broad frame of reference.
What’s next for Mara Schiavocampo?
Only God knows! As they say, “we make plans, and God Laughs.”
Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds – My Plan For Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance, is available online and in stores now.