Liz Hernández Founder of WORDAFUL Talks the Power of Words
Liz Hernández is an Emmy-nominated former radio and TV Host, and now the founder of WORDAFUL, an online space to connect and share the power of words. Previously Hernández worked for Access Hollywood, E! News, and MTV, and her new venture WORDAFUL is a video and live event series focusing on the importance of how we communicate with others and ourselves. We spoke to Hernández about the path that led her to found her platform and how she wants to launch a full-scale media company with WORDAFUL.
How did you start your career in media?
Liz Hernández: My career in media started by accident. I was in college and doing an internship for my communications class. I did a TV internship and a radio one — I gravitated more towards radio because it was more fun and lighthearted. This internship turned into a paid internship. Then one day I filled in for another girl in news. She was sick, so I filled in for her and my boss saw my potential. When I was getting ready to graduate from college, they sent me to a smaller radio station so I could practice and after five months of being there, I got a call from a radio station in Los Angeles to audition and I ended up landing on one of the biggest morning shows in L.A.
What was your experience in the industry working as a Latina?
It was definitely interesting in the beginning. One of the things that really stood out for me was that, while we come in all shapes and sizes, I was told from the beginning that I didn’t sound Latina. I was basically asked to sound “Latina”, which to me was insulting because I’m Mexican. It just made me feel like this person had a stereotype they wanted me to fulfill and I had worked so hard to get to the position I was in. The other aspect was quite beautiful. When I was hired at Access Hollywood, I was really proud of the fact that I grew up watching a lot of reporters who were caucasian women, and I was one of the first Latinas to step on stage. For me, it gave me a lot of pride, because I knew young girls would be able to see themselves in me. That meant a lot to me.
What are your tips to speak on camera or for an audience for people who are starting in journalism or entertainment?
Read out loud as much as possible. That to me is like memorizing something. If you read something and then you memorize it and then you speak it out loud and you put your own personality into it, that sharpens your skillset. Reading out loud is what you’re going to do in entertainment news since you will be either reading a script, a teleprompter, or doing an interview. You’re going to get used to projecting your voice, get used to certain tonalities in your voice, and how you express yourself.
What have been some of your favorite interviews to date and with whom? What made them special?
It’s always music interviews. I grew up immersed in music and that’s why I got into radio. I absolutely love music, the stories music tells, and the way it makes you feel. One time I had the opportunity to sit with Lionel Richie and that was just unbelievable. I interviewed stars I grew up loving, like Mariah Carey. I worked in radio and it was really special because every time someone had a big hit on the air, they were coming in to promote their music. From Jay-Z to Beyonce… you name it. Then once in a while you get that really special guest like Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey are my top three.
What was the inspiration behind WORDAFUL?
Connection and paying attention to the power of our words. When I left radio to do television, that was one of the things I missed. I always felt passionate about connecting with the audience, music, and storytelling. I was going with the trajectory of my career. I worked in radio for ten years and it gave me the opportunity to work for MTV, then the opportunity to work for E! News, and once I landed there I had the realization that maybe this wasn’t what I really loved to do. I was just following my hard work. What I love to do is connect through storytelling and relating to what someone else is feeling. There’s so much healing in that. There’s so much growth when you realize that words are powerful and how we talk to ourselves and to other people can be life-changing. Of course, this was at the same time my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she was beginning to lose her words, so I became more passionate about it.
What was the moment you decided to turn WORDAFUL into your full-time job? Where would you like to see WORDAFUL grow?
It wasn’t even that it was growing so much, it was really about me standing on stage and feeling aligned. I wanted to put some depth to the message I was putting out to the world. I was just trying to do something meaningful and that was the moment I realized everything I’ve done in my life was preparing me for this. I want to see WORDAFUL grow into a Podcast, into a book, and merchandise. I would ultimately like to be a multimedia brand.
What’s your advice for journalists in 2021?
Stay true to your voice! Keep your integrity intact because you have to really love and be passionate about what you’re doing. This isn’t an easy industry. Lean in on what makes you you, because that’s how you’re going to find your voice.
Follow Liz Hernández and WORDAFUL on Instagram
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