Ever since reporting morning announcements at Kempsville High, Nicole Livas knew she wanted to work in her hometown. She graduated from George Mason University, worked as an anchor/reporter in Rhode Island and Ohio and eventually found her way back home at WAVY-TV, a place she'd begun as an intern.
After 14 years of delivering some of our region's most impactful news as co-anchor, Livas has announced that she's leaving Hampton Roads this spring to join her husband in Washington, D.C.
Even before starting at WAVY, Livas already had some big shoes to fill—those of her mother, Becky, the first African-American anchor in Hampton Roads. "My mother was certainly my first inspiration," Livas says, "but I also looked up to Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Larry King, Charlie Rose and more recently Hoda Kotb and Anderson Cooper."
Reporting in her hometown, she says, has been quite an experience. "My sister emails me when my hair is sticking up or my necklace is turned, my mom emails me when I mispronounce something, my dad calls me when I'm not on the air, asking if I'm OK," she laughs. "Aside from that, it's been great to hear from my old classmates, teachers and coworkers. It's always cool to run across people you know."
During her time with WAVY, some of her coverage has included Friday Night Flights during high school football season and auditions for "American Idol" in New York and Hollywood, as well as sensitive topics, like the death of Officer Victor Decker and the anniversaries of September 11 and the Virginia Tech shooting.
The most memorable stories, she says, are the ones that have had a positive impact on her life and challenged her thinking—"not even as a journalist—as a person." Some of these include helping community members—"giving a voice to the voiceless, actually doing something that made a difference," she says.
Moving away from Hampton Roads won't be easy; she's leaving her parents, friends, workout buddies, coworkers, church, favorite restaurants and the beach. "It's home," she says.
Still, she's got much to look forward to in D.C., like spending quality time with her husband and his family and reconnecting with her George Mason family. "I'm also looking forward to visiting museums and being a tourist," she says. "Oh, and the restaurants!"
Career-wise, Livas says she doesn't think she's done with television just yet. "I may reinvent myself and head over into the lifestyle area. There are some promising leads, but nothing certain just yet," she says. "Stay tuned …"
Here’s some advice that Nicole shares for local youth looking to pursue a career in journalism.
- Don't just focus on broadcast journalism. First of all—you still need to know how to speak, read and write well. Watch out for the shorthand text lingo. Also, learn the digital and tech stuff.
- If you know how to produce stories online, you will always have a job.
- Be ready to sacrifice a lot in your early years in the business. You won't make much money, you'll work long odd hours and you'll miss out on a lot of fun things, but if you stick with it, the reward will be great.
- Don't let people squeeze you into a label as a certain type of journalist. Be versatile, follow your heart and your head. Do what makes you happy.
- Never be afraid to reinvent yourself—no matter what stage you are in your life or career.
- Never stop learning. Find mentors; stay in touch with those mentors. Join professional organizations and attend their workshops and conferences.