Johanna James is a chase producer at Sun News Network, Canada’s home of hard news and straight talk. She first got her start in the TV industry as an intern at Sun TV and worked her way up to be a segment producer and video assignment editor before the launch of Sun News Network.
A Torontonian at heart, she loves city life, the diverse selection of cultural foods and entertainment, and the feeling of calling Toronto home. But don’t be fooled, she’s an avid traveller, experiencing the sights and sounds of Paris, London and New York to name a few. But she calls Grenada – the native home of her mother – her second home away from home.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I’ve had a fascination with TV ever since I was a young kid. But I think it started when I was two years old, watching Dave Devall do the weather on CFTO, drawing on the glass board – I was hooked. My interest grew stronger when I completed my media studies class in high school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I wanted to know how everything on TV came together. My college internship sealed the deal and here I am today.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Would still like to be producing TV; possibly in a lifestyle format. But overall, I want to be happy, sane and enjoying what I do next. You never know. I didn’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now when I was 20. Throw in some travelling and I’ll be happier than a kid with ice cream cake.
Any advice for people started in your industry?
If there’s an opportunity to get your foot in the door through internship (free or not) or through volunteering – DO IT! But make sure it’s something that you want to do and be prepared to roll with the punches. The TV industry is always changing. Be true to yourself, do your best and have fun.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
For news: 680 News, Newstalk 1010, Sun Media, AP, Reuters and BBC. I enjoy reading few magazines like Essence and O, The Oprah Magazine. And for anything else… when in doubt, Google.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I had a chance to interview Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson, and oh my, is he ever lovely. He was extremely nice, vibrant and my camera loved him – at least I think so. I would have to say I’ve had a lot of enjoyable and interesting conversations with the guests I book for my network and the PR reps to escort them. You learn a lot from just having a causal yet respectable conversation.
People who didn’t care to be there for the interview and gave one word answers. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it happens. Life goes on.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
This happens to pop into my head more often these days: “Remember it’s not rocket science or surgery, it’s just TV.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I credit the West Scarborough Boys and Girls club for implementing the following rules when I attended from ages five to 13.
1. Respect yourself.
2. Respect others.
3. Respect others belongings and their beliefs.
And be observant of your surroundings. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but handy when you do.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Deliver the whole package. In my case, if a PR representative can provide a plan for a suggested segment with guests, useful and concise information, visuals, prop selections (if needed) and accessible web links – we will love working with you! A good segment takes attention to details (and elements). As long as you’re just as willing to make the opportunity work, it will work with flying colours.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I can’t nail down one experience, because I have more than one. I will say that there’s a group of PR pros who I’ve dealt with in the past nine months that have been awesome to work with. I would gladly work with them in the future, no doubt about it.
Intolerable people who don’t want to try to be tolerable.
Travelling to the Caribbean, especially if I can enjoy a few afternoons on Grand Anse beach in Grenada.
Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill and when I want to escape, the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling has quite the imagination.
Best place on earth?
Grand Anse beach in Grenada, central Paris and I’m sure there’s some places that I haven’t discovered yet. I still got time.
I would say my obvious choice would be Oprah, but I would have to say group of my childhood friends from elementary school. We try to keep in touch as much as we can when we can. Twenty years plus and still going.
Do Superman, Batman, Thor, Captain America and Planet count? Just kidding. My mother. It probably sounds cliché but I strongly admire her strength and determination. Plus she delivers results and answers; I have to love her for that.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I actually don’t download a lot of apps. BBM is probably the only app I use a lot, and the Scene app.
Pool or Ocean?
Definitely the ocean. I’m not the greatest swimmer, but I can rock the lounge chair on the beach any day, or at least four out of seven days of the week if I was in the Caribbean.
Voicemail or email?
It can be tricky. I would say personal email because I can always look back at it. Or call until you get me.