I won my first Emmy while working in Cleveland, Ohio. I won for my report on people who get cosmetic surgery to prolong their careers. The story focused on a woman who worked in sales and thought the only way she’d be successful was to enhance her looks. My second Emmy also came in Cleveland, when I began doing a lot of community service, especially breast cancer issues. Both wins were very exciting. But more times than not I was either nominated and didn’t win or I entered the contest and didn’t even get nominated.
I used to tell my daughter Queah how much I wanted to win that golden statue in the Anchor category. Trust me, since living in Little Rock I’ve entered many times, got nominated a few times – even once for Anchor –
but I never won. Every time I lost, I’d tell Queah how disappointed I was, and she’d say something like, ”those people (the judges) are crazy, Mom!”
One day right before she died, we had a horrible time keeping food in her stomach. She had become so thin and couldn’t keep anything down. Out of the blue she said, “Mom, you should tell people about your Emmys”. I just looked at her like – what? Then she said again, “You should talk more about your Emmys awards.” Her belief was I should tout those awards like a badge of honor, even though she knew very well how the one I wanted most – the Anchor – always eluded me. That day, for some reason she wanted to talk about Emmys. It was the last thing I wanted to talk about. I was more concerned about fattening her up. Oh how I wish I could have fattened her up – I wish we could have beaten cancer.
Last year I did a special report called Grieving a Child. The two-part series focused on an Arkansas couple who lost their son to a brain tumor. Initially, I didn’t want to do it because I couldn’t figure out how to do a story about grief, when I was in grief counseling and could barely get through the day. I went home that night, agonizing over what to do, when a voice, a sensation, a feeling – something I still have a hard time describing, came to me. It said these words – “do the story because you’re going to help people and you’re going to win an award”. Words Queah would say – I knew it was her speaking to me. I went to work that next day and told my News Director and Producer I would do it. And yes, the reports helped people – just like Queah said.
Then the time came to submit Grieving a Child for potential awards. I felt like that was what I was suppose to do because of her. The reports won two awards right off the bat - an Associated Press Award and a national award from the American Legion. Two awards, but Queah said “an award” which left me confused. I also submitted Grieving a Child for an Emmy in the Specialty Reporting and Serious Feature categories – figuring I would give myself two possible chances to win. Then, the regional office of The National Association of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) told me I had cheated – I had done something called double-dipping. It was against the rules to place the same exact entry in two categories. I told them I didn’t mean to cheat it was an honest mistake. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted my entry fee back and they said I couldn’t have it because there were no refunds for double-dippers. So finally the folks at NATAS told me to pick one of the two categories – and if I wanted to submit the reports for something else the only other possible place was in the Craft category. Craft exemplifies the job you do everyday like, Editor, Director, Meteorologist, Graphic Artist, Host and yes – Anchor. It made absolutely no sense to me to put it in that category. In the past I would submit something entirely different for Anchor. Yes, I know it never won – but I felt I knew what it took to win. I figured to win all I need to do was just get the right combination of examples of my work – and this wasn’t it. But having no other choice – I did it.
Forget about it.
I ended up getting a nomination in both categories.
Because of all the circumstances surrounding this – Queah speaking to me, the special reports about grief and being a griever – I felt I needed to follow this thing through and go to Kansas City for the Awards Gala. I figured I had a shot in the Specialty category. Why? Because I think I know these things. But when the category was called – I didn’t win. I lost out to a story about the devastating tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri. When the Anchor category was announced there were 8 or 9 of us nominated. I sat there as the announcer read all our names and the stations we worked for. There were anchors from Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield and I can’t remember where else. I waited, heart pumping – but ready for the big let down when the announcer said – and the Emmy goes to… me. Yes, me. I won!
It took a day or two for things to really sink in. Queah said “an award” and this is the one she was talking about all along. When she was alive she never said much about other awards but she always talked about the Emmy. Why? Because it was what I talked about starting way back when she was a little girl – and she knew how much this particular one meant to me. I won the award I always wanted because I entered the Anchor category after making a mistake on my entry form. The judges saw my work, and thought it was the right combination of examples and worthy of this tremendous honor. Something my daughter knew all along.