Belva Davis, the first female African-American TV reporter on the West Coast, has paved the way for the likes of Tamron Hall and Soledad O’Brien. She is a true pioneer, a self-taught journalist whose incredible career has spanned print, radio and television.
In our latest So What Do You Do column, Davis talks about how she landed her fig gig at Jet, the reason she never turned down a story in the first decade of her career and why some of her memorable interview moments stand out for the wrong reasons:
I interviewed Jim Jones, who was someone I never wanted to talk to, and I had a poor interview with W.E.B. Dubois because I was young and didn’t know the significance of his importance. As time went on, I was interviewing Muhammad Ali one day and in the presence of Malcolm X the next. I did one of many interviews with Huey Newton in Cuba. Celebrities were open to me because I’d been on radio. I just pulled out some files the other day: interviews with Ella [Fitzgerald], Nancy [Wilson] and Lena [Horne]. But I think it was my first interview with then-Governor Reagan because it was unusual that I got past the Republican barricade. That was because of a co-worker and mentor named Roland Post, who became my co-anchor on a political talk show.
To hear more from Davis, including her experiences with sexism during the civil rights movement, read: So What Do You Do, Belva Davis, Pioneering Broadcast Journalist, TV Host and Author?