ESSENCE Network: NBC Anchor Sheinelle Jones on Breaking into TV

Sheinelle Jones is living her dreams with as the new anchor for Weekend TODAY. She tells how she used positivity and kindness to rise to the top.

More than 100 million people watched the Super Bowl commercial featuring Sheinelle Jones walking the streets of Manhattan with anchors of NBC’s TODAY show. The Kansas-native and Weekend TODAY host had a “wow moment” as she watched, remembering her first time sitting behind a news desk in high school. While in college she spent summers interning and grew her career in small news stations after graduating. Then NBC came knocking.  Discover her strategy for making your dreams a reality and juggling her demanding career and family life with her husband, two-year old twins and a five-year-old.

Name: Sheinelle Jones

Age: 36

Hometown: Wichita, Kansas

Location: New York, NY

The gig: I am the new anchor for the Weekend TODAY show and I report during the week on the TODAY show. My beat is everything from a guy imprisoned for ten years for a crime he didn’t commit to a mom who writes a letter to a stepmom that says, “Thanks for taking care of my kids.” I’ve been here for four months and it’s been a dream. 

The journey: In high school I interned at a news station and fell in love with television news. I studied broadcast at Northwestern University. I interned for free in a newsroom every summer from my high school junior year to senior year in college and worked at the mall for money. 

Her first break: I moved to Springfield, Illinois two days after graduation for my first television job. I was a one-man band. I carried my tripod and camera myself. I didn’t know anybody and I wasn’t making a lot of money but you keep your eye on the prize. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  So now I’m here, but I know that it came with a lot of work.

Best advice she’s ever received: A supervisor once told me to ask for what I want, take what you get and use what you get to get what you want. That’s how you climb the ladder.  

Television reporting 101: It’s important to always be a reporter first. Also, read everything you can get your hands on and be nice.  In a business that’s so competitive, if you are warm and kind, it speaks volumes.

Her biggest lesson learned: You can’t lose sight that you are covering real people, even when you are interviewing celebrities. I learned early on that if you just talk about their projects, you don’t have as good of an interview. Stories are better when you take the moment to connect with people.

Her career highlight: I was sitting on the couch and the kids were running around while we were watching the Super Bowl on delay. All of a sudden my phone started exploding with texts from people I hadn’t heard from in so long. They had watched me on the TODAY show commercial. It was cool to hear from people from where I first interned in high school. It was full circle and I allowed myself to be excited. I still have a long ways to go, but this is amazing.

Her work/life strategy: We have to know when to push ourselves and when to give ourselves a break.  When you are a mom sometimes you have to push your career and work long days. You can’t beat yourself up when dinner is not perfect. I am learning to give myself a break and maximize the moments.  When I’m at work I give it 100% and when I’m at home I give 100%. 

Her boss accessory: A nice pair of heels. I am 4’ 11” and it makes me feel tall.

Her beauty must-haves: Dermalogica facial moisturizer and Lancôme Definicils Mascara

Her theme songs: “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang.

Follow Sheinelle Jones on Twitter and Instagram

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