Belva Davis made her TV debut in 1963, when she covered a black beauty pageant. She later made history as the first female African-American television reporter on the West Coast when she was hired in 1966 by KPIX in San Francisco. She stayed at the station for 30 years and later became an anchorwoman in 1970.
Davis hosted “This Week in Northern California” for more than 19 years and has been honored with seven Emmys. It’s safe to say that Davis is a bona fide pioneer and has paved the way for the multiculturalism we see in the media today. Here, she shares her keys to success for journalists, particularly women of color, today:
I used to always answer, ‘Work as hard as I did,’ but I realize you have to work harder. Black women have made progress since I started [in journalism], but you can’t go into it wanting to be a movie star. You can get by and make a living. But if you only prepare yourself to do the minute and 30 seconds they give you to do a story and didn’t get the background so that it could be the best that could possibly happen, it would be difficult to contribute to journalistic knowledge. I see in so many young women an obligation to broaden the storyline. That means there’s still a lot of good journalism out there.
For more from Davis, including what it was like to make her on air-debut, read: So What Do You Do, Belva Davis, Pioneering Broadcast Journalist, TV Host and Author?