working girl: sharon carpenter

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Best known for her work on television networks such as the BBC, CBS, BET, BET International and most recently Russell Simmons’ GlobalGrind.com, Sharon Carpenter is also co-creator and a cast member of the eagerly anticipated new reality show “The Gossip Game,” which premieres April 1st on VH1.

Stats:

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Name:                 Sharon L. Carpenter

Age:                      31

Location:          New York City by way of Watford, England

Profession:      On-air/online Journalist and Host

Work:

How did you get started? 

I started while studying at Pace University.  I was studying business management with the hopes of one day owning my own record label but ended up falling into an opportunity, hosting a public access music video show.  I didn’t think for a second I’d be any good, never thought about doing television before but I was like “why not, this could be fun”.  It was my first job in TV and it was unpaid.  I worked really, really hard on that show and it turned out I was very good being on-camera as well as conducting celeb interviews!  The artists featured would compliment my in-depth interviewing style, and whenever we had an audience people would always come up to me and say “wow, that was so interesting! That was different from the usual stuff we see”.  That’s when I first realized; OK I have a talent here!

My first job in news was working for my9 News as an Associate Producer here in NYC.  While working at the public access show, I met the News Director of my9 News at a chaotic, backstage area of a Lil’ Kim party.  It was wild; tons of celebrities and press were there. The news director approached me and said, “You’ve handled yourself very well in such a chaotic situation.  Someone like you should be working in news” and it just went from there.  He ended up hiring me as an Associate Producer and that’s how my journalism career started.

What’s an average working day like?

There is no average day. Every day is above average and consists of different things because I’m an independent journalist and work with different media outlets (although working with Russell Simmons and Global Grind takes up most of my time).   I’m constantly going after interviews and stories, staying on top of breaking news, pop culture and entertainment events, seeing who the newsmakers are, planning out where my interviews are going to take place, conducting them, overseeing the edits, organizing the editors and the shooters, basically doing everything from beginning to end.  Outside of that I’m working on various projects, including creating new show ideas.  We have a reality series “The Gossip Game” which I’m the co-creator of…that’s keeping me busy as well.   I’m a cast-member as well as the co-creator.

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Why you do it?

I do what I do because I love it!  I didn’t realize TV was for me until I actually had the chance to experience it and once I did, I realized OK this is where I’m supposed to be: TV, video and media in general, telling stories, informing audiences.  I’m passionate about what I do.  I live for it.

Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job: 

I get to talk to and spend time with some of the most interesting people in the entire world from celebs to regular everyday people who are doing amazing things, who have their own unique stories to tell.  People always think about the glamour when they think of entertainment journalism and there certainly is a certain amount of glamour and excitement that comes along with it, BUT there’s also a certain amount of excitement that can come from covering the less glamorous stuff – the real news – some of the biggest stories that our generation has seen.  For example, the death of superstar Michael Jackson was one of the biggest stories I covered.  It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to inform the world of major events like this. I also covered the historic 2008 presidential election (reporting from John McCain’s headquarters) where president Obama was elected as the first black president of the United States.

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Who has been the most interesting person you’ve interviewed so far?

There are different things that can make an interview interesting.  I would say, one of the most interesting was an interview I did with rapper, David Banner right after Hurricane Katrina where we went with him to Mississippi to look at the devastation that had taken place from the storm.  It was like he had the key to the state because he was able to get us access to areas that other top news organizations couldn’t get into.  He’s an exceptionally smart guy and gave us great insight into what was happening in his home state and the help that was needed.  Harrison Ford – I’m big a Star Wars fan…  Oprah, I mean she’s one of my idols, I love her interviewing style.  She makes people feel extremely comfortable.  Her subjects feel like they’re talking to a best friend; they can see that she cares about their story and that’s why they open up to her and are willing to tell her things they’re not willing to tell other people. I was nervous interviewing Oprah because this is what she does all the time, so that was a great experience and honor.

What might be next for you? 

Well what’s next is this great reality show that debuts on VH1 on April 1st at 9pm EST,  “The Gossip Game”.  I started my journalism career behind the scenes and have always produced but I’m interested in doing more producing work on a grander scale.  Creating shows, producing shows, being behind and in front of the camera. I guess you can say I dream of being the female version of Ryan Seacrest, just doing as much as I possibly can.

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Hair:

What are your top 5 hair tips?

  1. Make sure you choose the right conditioner for your hair!  There could be a conditioner that works really well on one person’s hair, but it may not be suited to yours, so  experiment with different conditioners until you find the one that works best for you.
  2. If it’s a very humid day, you’ve just got to go with it. It’s almost impossible to fight that humidity!  So if you’ve got curly hair like I have, don’t even bother getting it straightened just go with the curls and let it go because otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle.
  3. Silk pillow cases!  Cotton pillowcases will suck all the moisture out of your hair and your hair can snag on them and break.  With silk or satin pillow cases, your hair just slides right over. They’re the man-friendly option. The guy in your life may not be too keen on a silk bonnet.
  4. Always rock a style that you’re comfortable with. If you want to take risks and you’re comfortable taking risks with new hairstyles, that’s great just make sure you feel comfortable because your hair is your best accessory. So you have to be comfortable with whatever look you’re rocking.
  5. Get rid of those split ends!  Getting a good trim every six weeks is the best way to a healthy head of hair.

Fun Fact:  Sharon Carpenter has won four awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ). She has also received a Telly Award for her journalism. She loves horse riding and as for special talents, she’s proud of the fact that she can whistle with two fingers really loudly!  🙂

 
Photographed by Chris Densmore
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