On a Tuesday evening, I am waiting for an interview that I know will be full of gems and will surely change a Black woman’s life. But I’m also full of nerves and anxiety. Friends and family members all around are testing positive and it's like Omarion took his hit song, "Touch" to a new level. My anxiety is on 1,000. Then, E! News host Francesca Amiker joins the Zoom call. Full of joy and light, I can’t lie, she brightened my day as soon as she turned on her camera, flashed that bright smile, and greeted me the only way a Southern belle would.
Born and raised in Atlanta, the Vanderbilt University graduate’s journey is simply inspirational. Francesca originally set out to follow in her father’s footsteps by studying political science and law, but something happened after a special person empowered her to lean into communications because of her brilliant way of captivating the class during public speaking. One idea led to another, and she started her first show, Francesca in The City, where she rode around Nashville with a little camcorder, traveling to museums, hotspots like The Bluebird Cafe, and local events to tell the story of the people.
“That’s when I got the bug. This can be me. I enjoy storytelling. I enjoy smiling at the audience and drawing them in and letting them know something that they didn’t know before.” And just like that, she switched her major to communications and garnered a gang of internships. By the time she graduated, the rising media maven completed 12 internships, from Country Music Television to local news in Nashville, all the way to Time Warner Cable in San Diego.
With detours and delays, Francesca is a testament to hard work and trusting divine timing. After nearly five years of including the position of her dreams at E! News on her vision board, she is now living out her wildest dreams. "I am a woman who is standing firm and who she is now. She knows what she wanted back then. She worked her butt off to get to this position literally to get to her dream job in Hollywood at E! News," she shares. "I’m someone who knows who she finally is, and I know what I bring to the table.”
xoNecole: I heard you say you put E! News on your vision board, so I wanted to talk about how you manifested your new role.
Francesca Amiker: It’s very interesting. If you are in an industry, for starters you need to know and have an idea of who else is in that industry who’s dominating. I knew of various entertainment shows but E! News is the brand that has stuck with me for years. Fifteen years ago, I watched Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic for the first time, owning that red carpet, captivating the audience, pulling in these interviews, and really getting people excited about the entertainment industry and doing it so effortlessly smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood. It was something I wanted to do—interviewing the biggest stars in the world and bringing them down to earth. Not talking to Oprah because she’s a billionaire, but talking to her about her humble beginnings. That gets me excited because then that creates an ability for viewers to relate.
When it comes to manifesting E! News, the year was 2011, and [I sent] a woman by the name of Jen Lanvin an email stating, "Hi, my name is Francesca Amiker, and I’m a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. I see that you have an E! News associates internship program, and I would love to be an intern for you all." No response. Seven years ago, "Hi there, I see that you guys are creating a digital entertainment show and you’re looking for PAs for that position. I would love to be a production assistant." I heard nothing back, but when I tell you, it’s all about timing.
'What can I do in the meantime to get me to E! News to attract them? How can the morning position in Lansing, Michigan, get me to where I want to be?' I immediately started thinking, 'Alright, I’m going to cover car accidents. I’m going to cover unfortunate vigils and homicides. But I’m also going to cover fun and lighter topics to build those chops for the news because I know I’m going to be there one day.' So I was doing live shots from a hot-air balloon to hosting shows with the Harlem Globetrotters.
So I continue to manifest E! News more and more and more. I said, "I am ready." I got to Atlanta, my hometown, and they created a position for me on the morning show as an entertainment anchor. It was the first time the station had that type of position and entertainment ever, but I knew I had to bring something to the table. I knew I was at a point where I’m now in a top 10 market in my hometown as their first-ever entertainment anchor. What can I do, because we talked about creating where you are, right? Don’t wait until Hollywood calls you. Create in the meantime.
I created my very own entertainment franchise called The A-Scene, AKA the Atlanta scene, and literally, the interviews started coming. I started getting calls like, "Hey Francesca, we’re going to be at the Waldorf Astoria. Would you like to interview Oprah Winfrey? Would you like to interview Ryan Reynolds?" The respect and credibility started building. My favorite part was educating my audience, so despite whether Hollywood ever called, I was now educating and creating a community of Hollywood or entertainment lovers right in my hometown. Four Emmys later and a bunch of eyeballs later, God is so good.
"The respect and credibility started building. My favorite part was educating my audience, so despite whether Hollywood ever called, I was now educating and creating a community of Hollywood or entertainment lovers right in my hometown. Four Emmys later and a bunch of eyeballs later, God is so good."
It was all about timing. I created a vision board right when I started in Atlanta. I printed off two photos of the [E! News] hosts at the time and then, on that third [spot] I put my face. It didn’t mean that I was going to be a third host, but it meant that I was going to be a part of the news family. And every other day I woke up, and I looked at that vision board, I would see myself and I’d be like, 'You got next. You got next. You got next.’ And right above the words E! News, it said, ‘Remain your authentic self,’ words by Oprah Winfrey and Viola Davis. Remain your authentic self and you will get to where you want to be, where you belong.
Four years [and] many jobs later, and this is where we are. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News 11 or 12 years ago when I emailed to be an intern. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News as a PA seven years ago. I wasn’t supposed to be at E! News four years ago when I put a gift on one of the executive’s desks after visiting LA and having a moment in the cafe.
That’s just happenstance. That was just me being prepared for the moment. This was all about timing. It’s all about timing. I appreciate God hindering me and creating those roadblocks and saying not yet because now I have not one doubt of what I’m able to do with this company. I’m so excited because this is the gold standard in entertainment and to be a part of it is a blessing, but it’s a blessing I earned. I’m proud of not letting it go. I don’t take it for granted at all.
"Every other day I woke up, and I looked at that vision board, I would see myself and I’d be like, 'You got next. You got next. You got next.’ And right above the words E! News, it said, ‘Remain your authentic self.’ Remain your authentic self and you will get to where you want to be, where you belong. Four years [and] many jobs later, and this is where we are. This was all about timing. It’s all about timing."
Oh, and you shouldn't because it's so inspirational. I don't even have the words. It's so powerful seeing a Black woman be in this space. What do you love most about being a Black woman?
The power that we have when we walk into a room, people are immediately intrigued by us. People are immediately intrigued by what’s in our minds. Of course, naturally, each Black woman that walks anywhere, we are goddesses. We are gorgeous women. But aside from that, what I think is most beautiful about us are the different levels of thinking and what we possess, and the creative juices that each one of us has. Right now, in my current realm, some Black women are hairstylists, some Black women are makeup artists. Nina Parker, who I adore, is a Black woman who has taken me under her wing. And not just a Black woman who was hosting a TV show, but she is a woman who has now created her own Nina Parker empire.
To just be on the sidelines and seeing that happening, from what’s going on with her clothing line at Macy’s to what she has going on thereafter. I am now in the space of so much greatness, so many entrepreneurs walking by me every single day. We are so varied and so diverse and we’re able to do everything, and if we stick together, we can take over everything together. Black women are just phenomenal creatures, and it’s this little bit of sass about us, too.
It’s the magic for me. It’s the magic. It’s the flavor, and we can deliver it in such a classy, professional, sophisticated way. We are magical chameleons.
That's beautiful. So, as you're entering this new level, how have you learned to balance self-care with your career?
That’s an excellent question because at 31 I’m not sure that I have completely balanced it just yet. Talking about my career, this is one of the insecurities I have. I’m not the best at caring for myself and putting myself first. I’ll give you a prime example. And I said this to one of my girlfriends last month, a realization and I knew it, but I never really said it out loud. I waited and I want anyone who’s watching this or listening to this or hearing this. I don’t want them to make this mistake, and this is probably one of my biggest regrets, but something I appreciate about myself too.
I intentionally put off a lot in life, just to wait to be in a city that I felt was going to be my forever home. I put a lot off. I’ll start getting my nails done when I get to Cali. I’ll start getting my hair done frequently when I get to Cali. I’ll start dating when I get to Cali. I’ll start going to therapy when I get to Cali. I always put off taking care of myself mentally, physically. I waited until I got the dream job, but what if that never even happened? I never want another woman to make the mistake of putting off life and putting off love—because that’s a part of self-care as well, opening up to the world and allowing someone to love you—which is what I have not done at all for decades.
And allowing you to love yourself, of course, that’s the self-care I can bring to myself. I love myself dearly but as far as balance, I can do a lot better with that. I urge anyone who can take anything from this to put yourself first now because you don’t know if tomorrow’s promised or if next year is promised. You don’t know when that dream job is coming. You don’t know if your dream city is coming. Take care of yourself and protect yourself now.
I’m at a point, Joce, where I am now fortunate enough to take a step back. Let me explore my new city, let me go on a hike, let me go get my nails done, let me see what Black therapists are around this area so I can go to one weekly, because that is, thank goodness, my coworkers talk about that like it is so normal. Therapy is normal and it should be more normalized, so I’m still learning how to balance.
"I never want another woman to make the mistake of putting off life and putting off love—because that’s a part of self-care as well, opening up to the world and allowing someone to love you—which is what I have not done at all for decades. I urge anyone who can take anything from this to put yourself first now because you don’t know if tomorrow’s promised or if next year is promised. Take care of yourself and protect yourself now."
Absolutely. I watched the interview with Gabrielle Union, and she was talking about how the word 'balance' has somewhat of a negative connotation. Sometimes we might not achieve balance, and that's OK. What is something you wish 21-year-old Francesca knew that you know now?
I wish I dated. But do I want to say that?
I feel like that's honest, especially with who you're becoming. That's a very honest answer. You can have another answer, but I hear you when you say that.
Yeah I am. It’s OK to be vulnerable in that state and also be a boss at climbing toward your amazing professional life. For me, it was, 'You’re not about to get in my way.' I see all these girls getting pregnant or she’s upset about this relationship or she’s crying over here, and I did not want that to be me.
But you know what, 21-year-old Fran, she could have learned and begun trying to balance, instead of trying to learn the balance at 31. Ten years ago, I would have challenged her to be open to living life in that way. I lived life academically and professionally. I could have lived a little more and not tried to rush. We always put this limit. I want to get here before the age of 26. I want to have children by the age of 23.
I want us to live in the moment. I would have challenged myself to live in the moment and be in the moment and it’s OK. Let yourself be vulnerable in that way. I protected myself and kept my guard up for quite some time.
Right! I'm wondering if that was modeled for you to know balance was possible, because for me, it wasn't modeled. I always thought you had to pick one: devote yourself to this one thing, and that's it.
It’s interesting, you know, the thing I saw in my household. My parents have been together now for 40 years and have been married for 36 years. I saw my mother as a schoolteacher and my dad as the breadwinner of the home. My mom created an amazing outlook for us on balance. They have an amazing marriage, and I don’t know that my generation is going to measure up to that, so I avoided that at all costs.
And unfortunately, with social media nowadays, I look at social media, and even as a woman at 31, I’m like, 'Oh my gosh, there’s just no hope.' Where are the professional men out there who know how to treat a woman who isn’t thinking like a certain popular influencer, who just truly values a woman and also wants to be valued? I have the fear of never finding the love of my life like my parents. I still have that fear, but I am being more open. Social media has tainted our generation in our generation’s outlook on love—what love is.
And I'm wondering, if you applied the same pressure manifesting a man the way you manifested your dream job, how that would have turned out.
It’s funny because while I was interviewing Ciara I asked, "So you finally released this prayer!" She said, "Y’all have been begging for it. I just found it was the right time." For me, it’s all about timing. Maybe young Francesca was not ready. I wasn’t ready to dive into this amazing love. Maybe she would have been too immature. Maybe she would have not been willing to bend like she should because a relationship is about ebbs and flows. Right now, I realized that his time is just as valuable as mine, and my love and his love, it needs to equal out.
I agree. You keep talking about divine timing. I'm in therapy and that's something I'm learning. I'm just thankful that you keep dropping these gems. What's next for you?
You know this week and next week I’m about to create that vision board. I do one every single year. I encourage everyone to not only write their vision but to go get those magazines, glue, tape, scissors, and a poster board. And even go to Google, search the item—the picture that you see for yourself—and you put that baby smack dab in the middle of your vision board. I urge everyone going into this new year, even with all the uncertainty, things are still possible. We can continue to live out our biggest, wildest dreams.
Some folks had the best two years, ever in the past two years, with this pandemic. Some people have tapped into things that they didn’t even realize they would have time to do, or they would have the mental capacity to create, and so I just want this to be a challenge to all of our xoNecole readers. There’s a reason you dream and you wake up and you go and you turn to the side, or you go to call your girlfriend and go, 'Can you believe that dream?' There’s a reason she may not fully understand what you’re talking about. Because God only gave you that dream.
It only showed up in your heart, it only showed up in your mind. I want people to seriously take those thoughts, those creative juices that happen now and then, write them down and take them seriously because we’re one action away from living our wildest dreams and creating financial lifestyles that we can only imagine. You’re one dream away from a billion-dollar contract with a company that goes, 'Wow, you’re the only person in the world that thought of that.'
I challenge us to just tap into ourselves more and to deliver on these dreams.
To learn more about Francesca, follow her on Instagram. You can also catch Francesca on E! News’ Daily Pop weekdays at 11 am ET on E!
Featured image courtesy of Francesca Amiker