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Dr. Sharon H. Porter Discusses the Intersection of Media, Mental Health, and Mentorship for Black Women in Journalism

Updated: Jun 1

By Tammy Reese

Dr. Sharon H. Porter, a distinguished figure in media, has built a formidable career as a journalist, media brand leader, and advocate for mental health and mentorship. As a black woman navigating the complexities of the media industry, Dr. Porter has encountered unique challenges that have shaped her professional journey. In an exclusive interview, she shares her insights on the obstacles faced by black women in journalism, her strategies for maintaining mental health, and the importance of mentorship and self-advocacy in media careers.

As a black woman in the media, what unique challenges have you faced in your journalism career, and how have you navigated them?

I can’t honestly say if what I have encountered is due to my race and gender, but as a growing media brand, it has been difficult finding true mentorship. While I have taken the initiative to join several media and journalism organizations and attend networking events for media professionals and journalists, I still can’t help but to feel isolated in this space.

Mentorship is a key component to personal growth and business expansion.

Mental health awareness is crucial, especially for individuals in high-stress professions like journalism. How do you prioritize your mental health amidst the demands of your career?

Three ways I prioritize my mental health amidst the demands of media and journalism are

Self-awareness, setting boundaries, and wholeheartedly practicing self-care.

Recognize signs of stress, burnout, or compassion fatigue. Understanding my limits and triggers is the first step in managing my mental health effectively.

Establishing boundaries between my work and my personal life is also a key component. I have created designated times for work and leisure activities, and I stick to them as much as possible. Also, I have learned to say no when necessary to avoid overcommitting or when tasks do not align to my end goal.

Although we hear about self-care more than ever now, I truly engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as, meditation, journaling or even just spending time resting. Prioritizing my self-care practices allows me to recharge both physically and emotionally.

What message would you like to share with fellow black women in the media during Mental Health Awareness Month?

In the pursuit of truth, don’t forget to prioritize your mental well-being. Take breaks, seek support, and remember that your health matters as much as the story.” Journalism is about shedding light on darkness, but don’t let it consume you. Your mental health is not a story to be sacrificed; it’s essential for your resilience and effectiveness. Your work is vital, but so is your mental health. Take the time to check in with yourself and reach out for help when needed. You are not alone.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s break the stigma surrounding mental health in journalism. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Let’s support each other and prioritize our well-being. Taking care of yourself is part of being a responsible journalist. Your well-being matters, and seeking help is a courageous step towards resilience.


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What advice would you give to other black women aspiring to pursue careers in journalism, particularly in light of the unique challenges they may face?

Know Your Worth, Build a Strong Network, Stay Informed and Educated, Develop Resilience, Seek Out Diverse Opportunities, Advocate for Yourself, Embrace Your Authenticity, and Stay True to Your Ethics.

Recognize the value of your unique perspectives and voice. Your experiences and insights can bring depth and richness to stories that others may overlook.

Connect with other black women in journalism as well as mentors who can provide guidance and support. Networking can open doors to opportunities and help you navigate challenges.

Journalism is a constantly evolving field, so it’s essential to stay informed about current events, media trends, and journalistic practices. Continuous learning and skill-building will keep you competitive and adaptable.

Unfortunately, bias and discrimination may be part of your journey in journalism. Develop resilience to overcome obstacles and setbacks. Remember that your voice matters, and your perspective is valuable.

Look for internships, fellowships, and job opportunities at media organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion. Seek out platforms where you can amplify underrepresented voices and tell stories that reflect the full spectrum of human experience.

Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and advocate for the assignments, roles, and opportunities you deserve. Assertiveness and self-advocacy are essential in any career, but especially in fields where diversity may be lacking.

Your identity as a black woman is an integral part of who you are and how you see the world. Embrace your authenticity and let it shine through in your storytelling. Your unique perspective is a strength, not a limitation.

Journalism is about truth, accuracy, and integrity. Uphold these principles in your work, even when faced with pressure or adversity.

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Photo Credit: Lindria Dockett Photography

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Tammy Reese began her career as a theater actress performing in 60 live stage shows a year with The Media Unit TV and Stage Production Company. She also directed the weekly live TV show Rough Times Live.

Eventually, she went to Empire State College to obtain her degree in media studies. After graduation, she did more theater and wrote and produced her own videos to spread awareness on social issues through the arts.

Tammy is an award-winning journalist and is best known for her legendary interviews with Sharon Stone, Angela Bassett, Jasmine Guy, Sigourney Weaver, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Porter, Steven Yeun, Luke Evans, Geena Davis, Morris Chestnut,  Terry O’Quinn, Ginuwine, Amerie, Donell Jones, Nelly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Giancarlo Esposito, Jennifer Connelly, Laurence Fishburne, Vivica A. Fox, Omar Epps, Joseph Sikora, Ryan Coogler, Britt Lower, Merritt Wever, Kathleen Robertson, Michael James Shaw, Dedee Pfeiffer, Carmen Electra, Essie Davis, Tom Arnold, Theo Rossi, Skeet Ulrich and many more.

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