Latina Mentors Series: Meet Entertainment Weekly Correspondent Nina Terrero!

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In competitive fields like publishing, its impossible to get ahead without the help (and guidance) of amazing mentors who can give you advice on how to navigate the industry and tips on becoming a better reporter and editor.

In our new monthly series Latina Mentors, we talk to successful Latinas who have been lucky enough to have great mentors and are now paying it forward by becoming mentors themselves. First up? Entertainment Weekly Correspondent, Nina Terrero!

Tell us about your job!
I am a correspondent at Entertainment Weekly. My focus is film, though I also write about television, books and pop culture trends. On behalf of EW, I frequently appear on-air as an entertainment expert and have been featured on broadcast platforms including The TODAY Show, Wendy Williams Show, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, HLN and many other shows. In addition to my on-air and print work, I also break news and write features for EW.com {and} co-host segments and conduct interviews on EW’s satellite radio station broadcast on SiriusXM.

When did you join EW
I started my position with Entertainment Weekly in February 2014.

Where did you work previously? 
Before joining the editorial team at Entertainment Weekly, I worked at NBC Latino, an NBC News digital property focusing on news and lifestyle content for U.S. Hispanics. As part of the team that founded NBC Latino, I helped shape our entertainment and lifestyle coverage with special emphasis on multimedia content. I {also} interviewed many of Hispanic Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Jennifer Lopez, Andy Garcia, Christina Aguilera, Edward James Olmos and Sofia Vergara and appeared on-camera as the host of a weekly celebrity news show titled “Celebrity Rewind.”

Who are three mentors (Latino or otherwise) who believed in you and helped you get to where you are today?
I’ve been blessed to have the most amazing women as mentors and advocates; women who have believed in me, vouched for me, supported me and most importantly, told me when I was wrong and encouraged me to be better. Michelle Hord-White is a former boss of mine from my days at ABC. She is special to me for many different reasons, not the least of which is that she always tells me the truth, even when it might be hard for me to hear. For example, I’ll never forget when she told me that I might be better served pursuing a career covering lifestyle and celebrity content rather than hard news or politics. It seemed harsh at the time, but it wasn’t about me not being smart or capable enough: she could see that my skill set, interests and personality were more suited for a different type of news coverage. Since then, she’s guided me on everything from how to negotiate for a better salary to how to take advantage of employee education programs.

At NBC Latino, I was fortunate enough to work with two incredible women, Sandra Lilley and Maria Alcon. They both have many years of journalism experience and have completely schooled me on every aspect of the field. Maria, in particular, encouraged me to pursue an on-air track and coached me on everything from what colors look best on camera to how to project my voice in the tracking booth, while Sandra helped me polish my writing skills. They are my angels and I love them to pieces.

Nina Terrero Where did you go to school and what did you study?                                                                                                               I went to Cornell University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Government with a dual concentration in Law and Society/Science and Technology studies. Though I had originally planned to attend law school, my heart wasn’t in it. Enter Plan B! I applied for and was accepted into Columbia University’s political science graduate program, from which I earned a master’s degree. I’m often asked about the value of having a master’s degree in political science as opposed to a journalism school education but I’m really happy with my decision as I think it’s given me the structure to think about entertainment within a different context.

Whats the best piece of professional advice youve ever gotten?
Probably something along the lines of “stay hungry, stay humble.” Being hungry means you’re continually educating yourself—reading as much as you can, learning about new technologies, improving your skill set. And in an industry like journalism—and particularly in entertainment journalism—humility goes a long way. When you’re humble, you’re approachable, like-able and you’re able to immediately put others at ease…and that goes a long way. Did you ever meet a celebrity that wanted to open up to a snobby interviewer? No way!

Do you think its important for Latino professionals to mentor younger Latinos? Does it happen often enough?
It’s certainly important for Latinos to mentor younger Latinos. Does it happen often enough? I’m not sure—I guess it depends on which industry you’re in and whether you have access to individuals in high-ranking positions. I get a sense that our numbers are still low in fields like journalism, which means it can be hard to find a Latino or Latina who is in a position to provide mentorship. And if you’re a young person seeking mentorship, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your mentor needs to look like you or vice versa. Regardless of sex, creed or race, professional advice from a respected industry veteran is always helpful—don’t discount someone just because they’re not Hispanic!

Do you have a mentee?
I have a few former interns and younger colleagues I’ve worked with whom I have a mentor-mentee relationship. And you don’t have to be a formal mentor to be helpful to others—I always try to make myself available to those requesting guidance, feedback or advice. It’s gratifying to know that whether it’s over a cup of coffee or via email, I’m a point of contact for someone in this industry, since when I was starting out, I had no one and knew no one. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time—after all, I’m still early in my career and am hustling 24/7!—but it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes encouraging someone else to pursue their dreams.

What advice do you have for Latinos who are just starting their career in journalism?
Don’t give anyone any excuse to doubt your skill set—do your best, every single time. Personality and attitude are also key in this business, so make sure to treat everyone you meet with immense respect. That person you met at a press conference might be your next boss; the contact you’ve made on location could help you find a source for an all-important story. And if you have a question, speak up. It can be so hard to do so and it’s something that I struggle with myself all the time. Sometimes when you’re the only woman or minority in the room, it can be hard to raise your hand and speak with confidence. But it’s better to ask—and succeed with the knowledge you’ve been given, whether its about word count or about editorial direction—than to risk failure by not doing so. And look and act professional at all times! Ladies, dress modestly (please!) and guys, invest in some ties and shoes that aren’t sneakers. Dress and act as though you already have your dream job!

Who were some of your Latino idols growing up? Was there anyone you admired?
Growing up, I admired women who appeared confident, strong, witty and self-sufficient—to me, it didn’t matter whether they were Hispanic or not. I think that partially stems from the fact that I didn’t see many women that looked like me or had a last name like mine in the news, on TV, in print or on book covers. Towards that end, one of my biggest goals for myself is to provide that inspiration for other little girls, so when they turn on the TV or read a great article, they’ll see that someone like them is capable of being smart, informed and accomplished. Now, I look at women like Justice Sonia Sotomayor as a role model. If you work hard and do what you love without regrets, you’ll be able to create an indelible impact on your community and the world.

Photo courtesy of Nina Terrero

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site PEOPLE.com; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine, AOL.com, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.