Let me tell you, it’s a great thing. In
fact, if it weren’t for persistence, I
wouldn’t be where I am today.
Imagine dreaming of becoming
a network news correspondent, when you are a
shy, insecure college student. That was I. I
was so insecure. In fact, I struggled for
courage just to take the typing test I
needed to get into my first journalism
class. I barely had the courage to submit
stories to the college paper. I was
definitely not the most likely student to
The truth is I barely made it through
college. Being from a family that couldn’t
afford to pay my tuition, I worked my way
through as a cashier in the student union. I
was also a book store clerk and a hotel
maid. Yes, I’ve scrubbed a lot of bathroom
floors. And finally, after four years of
struggle, guess what my first job out of
college was? I was a cocktail waitress.
But that persistence thing kicked in because
I really wanted to be a news reporter. I
loved everything about it: the challenge of
finding the right words to tell a story, and
the possibility that those words might make
a difference in someone’s life.
I lucked into an internship at a local
television station. The year was 1978, and
the station had never in its history had a
woman news reporter. As an intern I did
everything but wash the windows. I picked up
the mail, got coffee, ran a studio camera.
It wasn’t always fun, but I tried to do
every job I was given the best I could...
and then on my own time, I tried to learn
the job I wanted.
For example, I noticed that the woman who
produced the noon news was pregnant, and I
offered to help her on my own time. So
during my lunch hour, and after I was
supposed to be done with work, I helped her
print wire stories, write scripts, and book
guests. When she left to have her baby, she
announced she wasn’t coming back. Our boss
asked me to fill in as a producer until the
proper person was found. But they couldn’t
find one, and I became the producer!
Ann Curry and Brad Pitt during an interview
New Orleans, LA about the reconstruction
after Hurricane Katrina.
Then one day the news anchor, in a fit of
anger with management, refused to go on the
air. The station manager said, “just for
today, Ann. will you do it?” I did, and I
was horrible on the air. My eyes had that
“deer in the headlights” look. But the
station manager, who was desperate, asked me
to go back on the next day and then the next
day, until I was not only the producer but
the news anchor as well.
I still really wanted to be a reporter, and
reporting job eventually opened up I applied
for it. The senior producer said, and these were his
exact words, “You can’t be a reporter. Women don’t have
news judgment. Besides, you
aren’t strong enough to carry the camera.”
Curry, Angelina Jolie and some of the children
small village in Namibia during
interview in Namibia.
I took that as a challenge, and for the next
six months, I worked to prove myself. They were some of
the hardest months of my working life. Not only was I
not welcome, I was assigned to twice as many stories as
the men. I refused to give up. I decided that all I
could do was try my best. I worked very hard. Sometimes
my day would last 17 hours. Eventually I earned the
respect of my senior producer, and when I left that
station, I had not only been its first female reporter,
I also had the biggest reporting beat in town. They also
hired a woman to fill my position once I left, and
eventually that station had a female news director.
Years later, after I had risen to a bigger
station, that same senior producer called and said,
again, these were his words, “Ann, don’t let anything I
ever said stop you from your dreams. You can go as far
as you want to go.”
I wanted to go as far as the networks. I
moved from station to station, working long days, on
every kind of story you can imagine, trying constantly
to get better at reporting. In 1990, my dream finally
came true. I was hired as a correspondent for NBC News.
I felt anything was possible now. There was
no stopping me. But then, two weeks before my first day,
I read an article in the Columbia Journalism
Review. The article said all the networks had
poor records as working places for women and minorities.
I found out that was very true, but still wouldn’t give
up. I just tried to be so good, that I couldn’t be
denied opportunities. Lucky for me, at the same time the
news networks were becoming more open to women and
I worked as a Chicago correspondent, and
then anchored an early morning newscast that forced me
to get up at 2:45 every weekday morning. After four
years of that, I helped launch MSNBC, and
finally, I was named news anchor of NBC’s Today.
I am also a correspondent for Dateline NBC,
and am often asked to anchor the weekend editions of
NBC Nightly News.
It is lovely to have dreams come true. Along
the way toward my dreams I have learned that
it’s not the most beautiful, the most
talented or the smartest people, who succeed
in life, it’s the one who never quits.
Persistence. That is the key to your future.
Now go show them what you can do.
Ann Curry was hired as an NBC News
correspondent in August 1990, named Today news
anchor in March 1997, and named co-anchor for
Dateline NBC in May of 2005. She has extensive
experience in national and international reporting. Ms.
Curry reported live from ground zero every day in the
first two weeks after 9-11. She reported from Baghdad
in the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq, and then
from the USS Constellation as the war began.
Ms. Curry has distinguished herself in humanitarian
reporting. She was the first network news anchor to
report from inside the tsunami zone in Southeast Asia,
filing live and taped reports from Sri Lanka for
Dateline, Today and NBC Nightly News.
She was also the first network news anchor to
report on the humanitarian refugee crisis caused by the
genocide in Kosovo, filing live and taped reports from
Albania and Macedonia.
Before coming to NBC, Ms. Curry was a reporter for
KCBS in Los Angeles. In 1981, she was a reporter and
anchor for KGW, the NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon.
She began her broadcasting career as an intern at KTVL,
in Medford Oregon, near her hometown, rising to become
that station’s first female news reporter.
Ms. Curry has earned two Emmy’s, four Golden Mikes,
several Associated Press Certificates of Excellence, a
Gracie, and an award for Excellence in Reporting from
the NAACP. She has been awarded by Americares, the
Anti-Defamation League as a Woman of Achievement, and
the Asian American Journalists Association, receiving
its National Journalism Award in 2003. She has also won
numerous awards for her charity work, primarily for
breast cancer research.
Ms. Curry graduated from the University of Oregon
School of Journalism.