In life, and especially in the TV and entertainment business, there is a lot of pressure to look good. Hair coiffed. CHECK. Makeup on. CHECK. Wardrobe. CHECK. Believe it or not, it doesn’t end there. There is also this thing called talent: As in skills. As in being acknowledged for your hard work and not just being another pretty face. Sure, this industry sometimes looks more like a model agency comp card, but it is also a business made up of hard working professionals who care about the work they do, the people they interact with and the stories they tell. Nothing good comes from abusing that privilege or throwing around credentials and insulting others in order to intimidate. You see where I’m going with this one?
You may know who she is. You may not. The sad thing is, ESPN reporter Britt McHenry thought she was a pretty big deal at the time her car was being towed. But after a video went viral of her practically bullying a parking lot attendant over the ordeal, suddenly Britt was a bigger deal. Just in a totally unattractive way. Britt got pretty ugly and that’s not a good look on anyone. And for a woman who is used to being “camera ready”, she certainly didn’t seem to care (at the time) that her insults were caught on video. She KNEW she was on video. The woman told her. Fast forward to McHenry bashing the employee’s appearance, job, home and education. Cue: giggles heard from the sidelines. Not good. Not good at all. By the way, did she fact check this person’s background? News Flash: It’s never a good thing for a journalist (or anyone, for that matter) to assume. But alas, the bigger upset here is this: words hurt, Britt.
“I’m on television, and you live in a f—king trailer, honey.” Ugh. Why did you have to go there?
So, as we awaited the anticipated public apology on Twitter that usually follows stories like this, ESPN slapped her with a suspension. That’ll teach her. Or will it?
The thing McHenry may have forgotten at the time of this altercation is that she has been given a rather kick ass opportunity. There are likely a number of people who would love to have that gig. The key word here is OPPORTUNITY. And of course, GRATITUDE. As in “thank you for this job and letting me do what I love every day.” And to top it all off, she pulled the me vs. you comparison with the attendant. In McHenry’s apology, she said she let her emotions get the best of her. Fine. We all go a little wackadoodle every once in a while, Britt. No autopsy. No foul. But, it’s not the rest of the world you owe an apology. However, there is one parking attendant somewhere in Washington that may appreciate a few kind words. Just sayin’.
McHenry’s choices were obviously not the best choices that day. Just one example of how this attitude just won’t cut it. I’ve been fortunate to work in the television and media industry since I was in college. And I’ve seen all kinds of attitudes and egos (both on and off the air). I also have the privilege to teach what I do as a college professor. And when something like this transpires, it propels me want to work harder to share with my students the importance of integrity.
There’s a lot of competition in this industry. But as it continues to grow and the digital age is rapidly moving us in a new direction, there’s one thing that sometimes is forgotten… there’s room for all of us. Yes, all of us. But there are a few things that will keep you ahead in the game… and working. Aside from your talents, your skills and constantly working on your brand and craft, it does boil down to a matter of attitude, gratitude and integrity.
This event, like many, is a reminder of respect. Respecting others, the space (job/opportunity) you are given to be creative and … most importantly YOURSELF. It is about building trusting relationships and treating everyone as if you can/will work with them again. You don’t have to love everyone but for goodness sake, be kind. I tell my students all the time, you never know if one day you’ll be on the hiring end of the table or vice versa, so respect each other and respect the space.
So as this story becomes yesterday’s news, let it be a reminder that no matter what you do, WHAT you DO is important and WHO you ARE is unique. Don’t let your job define you. Define your job by being the best you that you can be.
“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” ~Maya Angelou
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