Overcoming Stuttering in the Media Industry

"We were all born with a certain degree of power. The key to success is discovering this innate power and using it daily to deal with whatever challenges come our way"
-Les Brown

Growing up, I always wondered why I was born with a stutter. Negative reactions toward my stuttering led into fear, which led me into silence. What I didn't realize at the time, was that I was given a gift. I knew that I had dreams and I knew that I did not want my fear of stuttering to stop me from sharing my voice.

As a child, I always had a passion for video production. I remember when my twin sister and I put on "make-believe" television talk shows in our Grandmother's living room during our summers in Chicago. I would produce, direct, and videotape the show while my twin sister would act as the TV host. At this time in my life, I had a severe stutter. When I put on these shows, I did not think about my stuttering. During these times, I felt like I could speak through my creativity by telling stories. I was escaping my fear of stuttering, something that felt like had trapped me.

While in college, I decided that I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming a television producer. I remember doing my first broadcasting internship at VOA News, an international broadcasting company in Washington DC. During my internship, I was involved in helping out with TV technical operations, which included camera work, floor direction, audio production, and other forms of TV production. One day, I was asked to floor direct a live news broadcasting show. I decided to face my fears and take on the challenge. I remember feeling terrified and nervous, because it was my first time floor directing. In addition, I was afraid that I would stutter severely while communicating with other crew members through the audio headset. I was given the responsibility to cue the reporter with hand signals as well as verbally communicate with the staff. I hoped that I would not potentially ruin the live show because of my delayed responses due to my speech impediment. While I was floor directing, I stuttered. However, the show went well and I felt proud of myself. At that moment I felt like my stutter could not stop me from doing what I loved. Anything was possible.

After my internship that summer, I was grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved in other television production work, such as helping out with award shows for NBC Telemundo, Nickelodeon, and BET. Before helping out with these award shows, I remember thinking "What if I stutter and I don't respond fast enough during the show?" Or "What if I get looked at crazy when stuttering while asking a question?" These were the thoughts that haunted me. But I had to realize that these thoughts did not matter. Despite these thoughts, when I was asked to help out with these award shows, I remember thinking "Wow, they actually believe in me!" It felt great knowing that despite having these challenges with my stutter, other people saw my potential.

For so long, I allowed my stutter to stop me from doing what I love. I want other people like me to see me and be inspired. I want them to not have to worry about what others may see as a problem. We all have potential and we all deserve the right to follow our dreams and aspirations, despite our challenges. We ALL can become who we dream to be. There are no limits!