I was scrolling through social media recently and noticed that 6ABC co-anchor Tamala Edwards had done a live video on Facebook.
The topic was, “Be encouraged.”
My nerves were frayed that day, but I paused and was surprised to see that she had stepped outside her usual role as an objective journalist, and instead was trying to offer hope to viewers while addressing all of the uncertainty because of the coronavirus. I no longer remember exactly what she said, but I do remember being moved by her urging listeners to “be encouraged.”
Days later, I happened across another video of her urging folks to “be encouraged.” Outside of church, that’s not a message you often hear. But it’s one that resonates especially during a time like this, when we are under stay-at-home orders and wondering when our lives are going to get back to normal.
In one video, she talks about loneliness during quarantine because even though you may not physically be alone, you miss random interactions with others. Edwards posted a particularly well-received one on May 4 called “Be Encouraged: Why I Had Almost Everything When I Had Almost Nothing," in which she talks about being a recent college graduate living in a studio in New York City and working as a low-paid researcher at Time.
“It was all uphill. It was all dreams. It was all possibility," she recalls before pivoting to the present. “For some people, the things that you’re losing, you can’t be very blase about them. You’re looking at your life and you’re concerned, you’re concerned for your children, you’re concerned for your well-being, but if you can just step into that space of the possible, of the potential, and ask yourself, ‘What might you be gaining as you may think, “I have almost nothing?”’ Maybe it’s a moment to get almost everything, because it’s a place where you can let yourself dream.…
“I hope that’s how at least a piece of you is feeling this morning,” she continues in the video, which has attracted nearly 8,000 views. “Be encouraged.”
Edwards quotes luminaries such as Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran, the writer and activist James Baldwin, and blind and deaf advocate Helen Keller, and manages to produce three-minute-long daily pep talks without coming off as preachy or heavy-handed. The idea came to her while she was adjusting to having to stay at home and also co-anchoring Action News Mornings from 4 until 7 a.m. with Matt O’Donnell from her living room.
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to give this a try. I know I need this. It would mean something to me if people said certain things to me. Often, when I talk to other people, I’m talking to myself too. That’s how I talk to my friends,'" she told me on Wednesday.
Soon, she was hearing from viewers who urged her to keep it up, and the project just continued from there with viewers telling her things like, “You just described my life and thoughts in this isolation time,” and, “We need this and you are right. I know this new norm really sucks, but I know and [am] praying it’s not forever, trying in my faith is what helps me."
The overwhelmingly positive feedback fuels her. She pauses at mid-newscast to go live on Facebook and talk to her viewers. Afterward, the videos are saved and are available on her fan page.
“Oftentimes, I go and sit in the chair, and I don’t know what I’m going to talk about yet,” she said. “I’m thinking about, what place am I in? What do I need to hear?”