Joy-Ann Reid has worn many shoes throughout her career. From working as a temp to a TV news and digital producer, but when Reid landed her own weekend morning news show AM Joy on MSNBC, her career skyrocketed. Now, after five years spending Saturday and Sunday mornings with her fans, appropriately called Reiders, Reid is taking her much needed reporting and commentary to primetime with her new show The ReidOut.
Reid’s new show will take over the primetime slot once held by Chris Matthews’ Hardball, and will be based out of Washington, D.C. Of course, Reid will still tackle news and politics, but her new primetime slot is monumental because she’ll be only one of two Black women on TV with a news show.
This week, ESSENCE got a chance to discuss the new show, along with the current political climate with Reid.
ESSENCE: What was the deciding factor to transition to AM Joy to The ReidOut?
Joy-Ann Reid: When I got the call from NBC Universal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde, I was really excited, if a bit daunted. AM Joy has been my home for four years and I love the show and the team. We built something really special. But I decided to say “yes” because I feel there is a real opportunity to bring something to primetime that is needed; diversity and a perspective that is unfortunately still unique in cable news.
ESSENCE: There aren’t too many Black women hosts of evening news shows, what do you hope to accomplish with the new show?
J.R: Beyond just producing a successful show that people want to watch, I hope to add to the diverse pool of guests and contributors at the network, which is something I am proud to have done at AM Joy. We will be doing the same at The ReidOut!
ESSENCE: What inspires you on a daily basis, and what are some of the things you shake your head at?
J.R.: I am inspired daily by my children and my husband and family, foremost. But also by the incredible activists who have taken the huge risk during a pandemic of going to and staying in the streets fighting for a better country. They and the healthcare workers and essential employees who are carrying us during this nightmare are my inspiration.
ESSENCE: With the election and the current pandemic looming over people’s heads, what changes do you think the U.S. needs in order to rebuild itself?
J.R.: If Joe Biden wins, he will have what may be the toughest rebuilding job of any president in history. He will have to get the pandemic under control (since there is little chance President Trump will any time soon). He will need to launch a Marshall Project to find a vaccine. He will need to right an economy that has already shed 40 million jobs and counting. He must tackle real police reform. And the emphasis is on REAL, and that means confronting a police union establishment that is incredibly powerful. And he will need to rebuild what is a completely broken American prestige and respect in the world.
ESSENCE: As many states are now re-entering another stage of lockdowns, do you think that going back to “normal” is something that will happen by the end of the year?
J.R.: I don’t think we will go back to anything that looks like “normal” for a really long time. There is a reason many people are calling 2020 “the lost year.” And I think that’s right. We are likely to face another huge COVID spike when flu season hits this fall, and the economy looks like it is teetering on disaster. And some things I think will never come back: the handshake, the needless in-person meeting … while others are likely here to stay: routine mask use (much like we see in places like China), the “elbow bump,” and working from home. And a completely new attitude about police and what the limits on their power should be. This country has been forever altered by Covid and President Trump.
ESSENCE: After covering the news, how do you decompress?
J.R: I grew up as a latchkey kid, so the TV was my babysitter. So not surprisingly, I unwind by watching TV (or Netflix or HULU). I love dark, spooky, moody, and fantasy-based shows (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Dark, How to Get Away with Murder…) but also history-based shows and dramas like Mrs. America, Queen Sugar and fun, relatable shows like Insecure. I’m also obsessed with the HGTV show Love It Or List It. I turned it on every day during Trump’s daily press conferences when he was doing them, and would just watch the Trump clips later. There’s only so much you can take! When I’m not watching TV, I also have always loved to read, which is one reason I launched my books podcast What to Reid. When I was growing up I obsessively read Toni Morrison and, interestingly enough: Russian novels like The Brothers Karamazov and War and Peace.
ESSENCE: What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to become a political journalist?
J.R: My best advice would be to learn to write. Writing is the one skill you can never go wrong having. And second, take in as much information as you can, from as many places as you can. When I started as a broadcaster (after working as a TV news and digital producer and once I quit that, in the failed campaign effort to unseat George W. Bush), I didn’t just listen to liberal talk radio like Al Franken, Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz, I also listened to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, just to know what they were saying and how they were saying it. At the end of the day, a good broadcaster is a good broadcaster. But it matters what we in this business use those skills to convey; be that the affirming, unifying truth, rage or distrust. Do your best to use your powers for good.
ESSENCE: If there was one person (past or present) that you would want to interview, who would it be & why?
J.R.: The one interview I always wanted, because this was my absolute hero (besides my mom) growing up, was Muhammad Ali. To me, Ali was the pinnacle of courage, both physical and mental. He also was the original activist athlete, who stood up for his own place as a man in a country that wanted to call him “boy.” He created his own identity and even named himself in defiance of the names slavery delivered to Black people, and stood up against racism, hate, and the Vietnam War. He was a truly great man. I almost caught up with him once while my husband / producing partner and I were trying to do this boxing documentary in the mid-2000s, but missed him by “that much.” I did get to interview his trainer, Angelo Dundee before he died. And that was an amazing gift.
ESSENCE: And finally, if there was one message you could give to your Reiders, what would it be?
J.R: My message to my Reiders is simple: THANK YOU. Thank you for always being there for me and lifting my spirits every day and riding with me, and please support who and whatever comes after AM Joy and come along for the ride to The ReidOut in PrimeTime!
The ReidOut premieres Monday, July 20th at 7 p.m. EST on MSNBC.Share :