The Collierville Chamber hosted the July Women’s Leadership Network Luncheon on Thursday, June 18, at the Ridgeway Country Club. Pansy Hall of Patriot Bank Mortgage, the Women’s Leadership Luncheons sponsor for 2023, welcomed guests and noted just how proud Patriot is to be affiliated with the Women’s Leadership Network. “It’s special when women can come together, talk, and network.”
Action News 5’s Morning Anchor Arianna Poindexter took the podium and quickly admitted that she’s more familiar looking at a camera than she is a crowd of faces. She walked the crowd through her personal “Journey to Journalism.” Being raised by a single mom in the Navy offered Arriana rare experiences, moving often to different locations and learning how to make new friends and appreciate new places. “My formative years – from 10 to 13 – were spent at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a place where huge iguanas sat in my front yard,” but a place that made her grateful for new cultural experiences.
She knew from a young age what she wanted to do for a career. She wanted to do what Oprah did. When her mother learned of her dream, she guided Arianna to the idea of taking small steps first. As her mother suggested a common-sense path, she also supported Arianna by encouraging her to participate in summer camps for young, aspiring journalists. During Arianna’s time at these camps, she “fell in love with journalism.” She recalls her experiences at an Urban Journalism Workshop where “a 15-year-old had the experience to ask questions of people of different backgrounds.”
When someone suggested the University of Missouri as a good college, she had no idea of the school’s excellent journalism program. But she would learn, and she admits that those opportunities to go “on-camera” and deliver news to the residents of Columbia, Missouri, gave her the opportunity to make mistakes and learn. “It was a bit of a train wreck” at times, she recalls with a laugh, but she was on her way.
She shared with the luncheon audience her first audition reel, the examples of her work on tape that would be seen by potential employers. Her tape got the attention of an ABC affiliate station in Savannah, Georgia, and without ever setting foot in the newsroom, a 20-year-old Arianna accepted the job. “It was a difficult time,” she remembers the turbulence of politics during the 2016 campaign. She even began to question her profession. Arianna spent two years in Savannah.
Then Memphis. People suggested Memphis would be a larger market and a good move, even if Arianna questioned moving farther away from Washington, D.C., the hotbed of news. And there was romance to consider, as her boyfriend – now husband – was from Memphis. Soon, she found herself in the Bluff City. After arriving in Memphis five years ago, she worked her way from reporter/anchor to morning anchor. Poindexter is proud of her profession and the service they provide. She pointed to the difference between national and local news, citing local news as delivering stories that have a direct impact on their viewers. Poindexter also noted the desire of WMC to engage with their viewers, encouraging those in attendance to reach out to the station if they have a story idea.
Now a proud mom – complete with photos of the baby– Poindexter smiles as she recalls people telling her that she had to choose between family and career. “They said, ‘you can’t have both.’” But she does, and while she admits that there are challenges, and at times she may feel stressed and overwhelmed, she notes easily, “that’s okay.”
Poindexter completed her talk by suggesting to the audience that they consider Laughing, Learning, and Loving as a guide to a full life. She spent several minutes fielding questions.