We had the good fortune of connecting with Nakia Cooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nakia, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I used to believe that “all work and no play” was the way to be. I threw everything into my career, no holds barred, because my philosophy was that you sacrifice now and reap the rewards later. Now while that is great in most aspects, I learned that if you make no time for a “true” social life, you can look up one day having all the professional accolades one could desire, but have missed out on valuable time with loved ones.
I can honestly say that being a working mom, my two children came first, and I often “dragged” them around town with me while I either attended or helped to host events. They would even be with me in the newsroom if I had to work an unexpected shift. To me, that was quality time. To them, that was BORING. They would have much rather been home with me watching goofy movies or talking my ear off about kid things.
I sometimes wish that I would have skipped a couple of galas and did less OVERTIME at work, because I can’t have those precious moments back that I could have been spending with my kids. My daughter told me she was tired of “always sharing me with the world,” and I respect her feelings and love her even more for expressing that to me. It was the wake-up call I needed. I no longer mix work time with family time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Listing it all for you shows me how, humbly, blessed I am. I wear many hats and Lordy, it has been tough maintaining it all. I got my start as an intern at Fox 26 News and Great Day Houston, and from there, served in leadership roles in the web departments at KHOU 11 News, KPRC 2 and Tribune Media’s KIAH CW39. My position at CW39 made me the first African American person to manage a web department at a Houston television news station. During my newsroom career, I am proud to have achieved more than a few prestigious “team wins,” including an Emmy, two Edward R. Murrow, three Associated Press and two Lone Star Press Awards.
In 2018, after obtaining my master’s degree, I transitioned out of the newsroom to try something new. I am currently a media coordinator for the United States government — go figure! Also, I am the current president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists (HABJ), broadcast the news twice weekly for KTSU 90.9 FM, and just earned my first IMDb movie producer credit for a project to be released this Spring. Forever a lover of digital storytelling, I am the proud owner of two websites; Bayou Beat News and News with Attitude, and co-founder of Sister 2 Sistah mentoring organization. Oh, and I was also an adjunct journalism professor at TSU before COVID hit. I believe in teaching others and giving back to the community.
What I am most proud of is that I achieved all of this as a single woman with children. Notice I did not say “single mother” because my children had a present and active father, who passed away a few months ago.
To be completely honest with you, I got my inspiration for managing work and my children — taking them mostly everywhere with me from community meetings to the newsrooms — after watching the reality show “Life in the Fab Lane” with Kimora Lee Simmons. The former model and business mogul would have her little girls with her every step of the way, and there would even be funny scenes of them rolling all around her office while she conducted business meetings. I thought, “if Kimora can do it, so can I.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d definitely take them to Phil & Derek’s Restaurant and Jazz Lounge in Midtown. Not only is that a one-stop shop for amazing food (best Sunday Brunch in Houston), it has live jazz and an ambiance out of this world! Houston is a melting pot with a little bit of everything to offer. I’d take people on a tour of the Downtown Tunnels, attend one of the many events at our beautiful Discovery Green and ride a Metro Rail downtown, hopping on and off to visit the great eateries along the route. For historic significance, I’d take visitors on a tour through Freedmen’s Town, the Third Ward/ Museum District and a visit to Project Row Houses. And honey, no trip to Houston is complete without a stop at the Galleria for some “retail therapy” and ice skating.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First, I owe my biggest thanks to my mother Dana Patterson for giving me the kick in the butt to enroll in college and pursue my dreams. After that, I give props and praise to my mentor, Texas Southern University (School of Communications) Assistant Dean Serbino Sandifer-Walker for recognizing my hidden talents when I was in undergrad, grooming me as a journalist and placing me in positions of leadership, even when I did not want to be. She and Mr. Charles Hudson made me the executive producer of the live on-air student newscast at KTSU 90.9 FM, and she also appointed me as the president of the TSU Association of Black Journalists. Establishing myself as a leader in college has led me to where I am today. All it takes is one cheerleader in your corner to lift you to greatness. I am lucky that I have had more than a few in my life. The list is too long to name them all.
Other: President of the Houston Association of Black Journalists, http://habj.org/
Owner, Bayou Beat News, https://bayoubeatnews.
Owner, News With Attitude, https://
Co-founder, Sister 2 Sistah mentoring organization, https://