Active Voice fellow Jamie Crockett wanted to be the next Oprah. She grew up in East St. Louis, Missouri, a place she says is home for many budding athletes but not for media personalities. Despite not having any role models in media to look up to in her immediate community, Crockett fell in love with telling stories after experiencing and seeing how many were left untold.
At the end of her senior year, a student at a nearby school was shot in the eye. She remembers how local news stations attended the young man’s graduation to film him walk across the stage, but none reported on her school’s success in breaking a record for graduation rates. This uneven coverage, concentrated in “violence and negativity,” spurred Crockett to pursue journalism at first. However, in her third year at the University of Missouri, she found a passion for strategic communications, which she believes can be a tool for sparking social change.
“I think that sometimes journalists stop at just reporting the story that happened and I feel like we have so much more responsibility to connect people with resources that can help them in that situation,” she said.
As a sophomore in college, Crockett started an independent consulting company called Shining Light Media, which works with nonprofits on communications, research, and business planning. It began as an online talk show in the basement of the UMissouri Journalism School, where she hosted guests to discuss domestic violence issues. Currently, she also works as the communications specialist at the Missouri Women’s Business Center, which helps women start and expand successful businesses.
At this point in her life, Crockett has near perfected the art of the pitch and hopes to teach younger women the same. As an Active Voice fellow this year, she wants to emphasize confidence building activities in the form of a story or product pitch.
“We have a lot of instances where women are not comfortable negotiating or standing up for why they think a story might be important,” Crockett explained. “I really want to encourage girls to stand up and develop that confidence and hold onto that.”
While Crockett describes herself as someone who “stands one’s ground,” she has encountered subtle gender and age biases against her in professional settings. After graduating college, she worked for the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State, where she started as an assistant in communications and was promoted to Deputy Director in just nine months.
“I will never forget the supervisor who reminded me when I was promoted to Deputy Director, ‘You know, we’re both young but don’t ever let the appearance of you being young to keep you away from the table. You have done the work to earn a seat at the table and give your voice and perspective.’”
As part of the second class of Active Voice fellows, Crockett hopes to pass on that message to other young women interested in media.
“I really want to encourage people that no matter what your background is or what people say about where you’re from or your life experiences that that doesn’t have to define you.”