Leading Ladies: Katie Collett
By Chelsea Sherman
Morning Anchor at WAVY-TV
Katie Collett’s day begins at 2:15 a.m., when she wakes up to get ready for work. She heads to the WAVY-TV studio to prepare for the 4:30 a.m. show. At 9 a.m., she gets a short break before the morning meeting to plan the next session. Then it’s time to help prepare for the midday show and make calls for upcoming pieces, and Collett is back on air from noon–1 p.m.
“It is a jam-packed schedule, but it’s my dream job,” Collett says. “Even though it can be stressful, we have a great family atmosphere. I get to come in every morning and be myself, show my personality and have fun with wonderful co-workers.”
Collett’s schedule might seem chaotic to some, but she’s more than happy to rise early every day. By anchoring in the morning, Collett can come home in the afternoon to spend time with her family, have dinner with them and put her son to bed.
“I’m very passionate about family time, especially reading and singing to my son before bed,” Collett says. “My husband is possibly the greatest man alive, and my son is amazing. They are the highlight of my life, and I am grateful to have the best of both worlds. I have a career that I worked really hard for that fulfills me, and I can spend time with the husband and son I adore.”
Of course, making her way up the ranks to her current position was no simple feat. When Collett decided to pursue broadcast journalism as a student at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, a professor advised the young journalism student to have a backup plan. She chose to ignore his advice and chase her calling.
“I decided this was what I was going to do—no backup plan,” Collett says.
To get her first job, she sent out 85 resume tapes to stations around the country. The 85th one landed her a job in a small market in Johnstown, Pa. “When you get out of college you think you’re going to conquer the world,” she says. “And then 84 times you either get no response or a letter that says, ‘no thanks.’ That’s pretty humbling.”
In Johnstown, Collett shot and edited her own footage and wrote her own scripts. Her hard work earned her a promotion to a weekend anchor position. In 2007, Collett was hired by WAVY as a weekend reporter. She was promoted several times until she finally earned her position as a morning anchor.
As she worked to get her start in the industry, Collett had to fight to remain true to herself in a business that, at times, tried to mold her into something different.
“I met with an agent who told me I wouldn’t get any further in this business because I was ‘too girl next door.’ She asked me if I would consider changing my last name to Rodriguez,” Collett recalls. “I had a come to Jesus moment then and decided that if my looks, my skin color or my name were going to prevent me from getting a job, I didn’t want to work at that TV station.”
Now as a morning anchor of the No. 1 newscast in Coastal Virginia, Collett is proof that unreservedly being yourself is always on trend.
This remained true when Collett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) five years ago. Since sharing the news with her co-workers and viewers at WAVY-TV, Collett has used her platform to raise awareness for MS and give others with the disease a voice. Collett applauds her company for supporting her from the beginning and allowing her to shed light on the incurable disease.
“There are people with MS who don’t want anyone to know because they don’t want to be passed up on projects and promotions—or worse, lose their jobs,” says Collett. “Being able to speak up when they can’t has been a great accomplishment for me. Getting messages from viewers who tell me ‘you’ve inspired me not to give up’ is amazing.”
Photo by David Uhrin
Viewers who meet Collett in passing might be surprised that her on-air personality is a true reflection of who she really is.
“There’s a stigma that women in media are stuck up and arrogant, and I’m glad to be able to blow that stereotype out of the water,” Collett says.
Of course, being a person in the media doesn’t mean people will always like you. Collett encourages other women pursuing their career goals to remember that it’s impossible to please everyone. “It doesn’t matter how smart, kind or beautiful you are, someone along the way will decide they don’t like you. Don’t let that crumble you. Smile at the haters, and keep on moving.”