We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Delacruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Telling someone you want to be on TV when you grow up is often met with the same attitude as saying you want to be an astronaut. People think it’s cute, but unrealistic. Every step toward a career in broadcasting involves a risk, but I’ve been lucky enough to have them pay off. I never had the big flashy internships that kick off most news careers. I spent my college years applying everywhere from big networks to local stations without interest from a single one. To this day I still have hundreds of “we’ve reviewed your application and have decided to move in another direction” emails to prove it. Maybe I wasn’t networking enough, or my resume just wasn’t cutting it, but without that first foot in the door it seemed like any career in broadcasting was just out of the question for me.
Putting yourself out there in the first place is a risk. But having the will to keep going after being plagued by rejection is an even bigger one. While the internships never happened, I finally landed my first “job” at a sports radio station in Miami after graduation. It wasn’t paid – so it felt like the internship I wanted, just a few years too late. But, it was one more milestone on my resume, which would lead me to what came next. Later that year I got my first job in TV news at WSVN. I drove an hour in the middle of the night to write for their morning show. It was part-time, five days a week, with no benefits and no sick days for $8-an-hour. While it was fascinating just to be in the same newsroom with the flashy anchors I would see on TV, I spent most of my time losing a war with paper jams in the printer.
The experience kept me humble. Taking two opportunities that deprived me of sleep, a social life, and money in the bank without the promise of a successful career was a gamble. But I made the best of my time at both, while always looking forward to what was next. The radio job led to the writing job which led to me my fist on-air job as a reporter in Tucson, Arizona. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but at the time I had never heard of the desert town and couldn’t even pronounce it properly. That would lead me to my next risk – and probably the biggest of them all. I picked up and moved across the country to a place where I didn’t know a single soul. I was barely making enough money to cover rent and student loan payments. Would I love it? Hate it? Humiliate myself on live television? The answer to the last question is wholehearted “absolutely.” When it came time for my first appearance on television, I was incredibly nervous. The ground-breaking news event I was covering featured an elephant from the local zoo picking a team to win the Super Bowl. I stuttered, stumbled, and had no idea how to properly curl my hair. It also started raining during the middle of my live shot. But, once again, another experience that keeps me humble.
The risk that upended my whole world paid off big time. I met some of my best friends, learned so much about finding myself and discovered the freedom of resilience. No matter how many times I messed up or made a wrong decision here and there, forgiving myself and moving forward propelled me to keep taking risks, and making sure they were the right ones. While some of the risks came with rewards, they also carried some losses. When you’re working odd hours, hundreds of miles away from friends and family, it’s hard to maintain those relationships that once came so easily. I had to miss countless weddings, engagement parties, and still spend most holidays at the station with other rookies in the business who don’t have the luxury of time off. You learn that sometimes your strongest support comes from yourself – and that’s totally okay.
For four years now I’ve been in sunny Southern California working as a weather anchor and general assignment reporter. I won an Emmy Award for breaking news coverage of the Lilac Fire in 2017 and was voted Best TV Personality by our viewers that same year. The work changes every day and while it keeps things interesting, it can sometimes rock you to the core. In my six years working in news, I’ve consoled wildfire victims watching their homes crumble down in flames. I’ve sheltered behind cars during SWAT standoffs to protect myself from flying bullets. I once watched a man get shot to death by police just minutes before going live on TV. I was still shaking from the trauma. But the risk journalists take, especially after a year like 2020, have metastasized like a cancer. We’re struggling to stay afloat in ways we’ve never seen before – drowning in polarized politics, a global pandemic, and a social justice movement that’s mobilizing a generation. We have a front row to history, but it comes at a price.
Our roles went from deciphering press releases and court hearings to putting on gas masks and stashing pepper spray in our pockets. Imagine being attacked for just doing your job. We’re here to tell stories. We’re here to expose the truth. Whether public perception supports us or not, our purpose remains the same. The risk I’m hoping we can all take this year should be easy – dare to be tolerant. Challenge yourself to learn something new instead of being quick to pass judgement.
I got where I am today by not giving up. I’ve been faced with rejection more times than I can count, and it can do some serious damage to your self-esteem. Sometimes it’s not getting that next big job or simply reading harsh criticism from a viewer. It’s important to be aware of your emotions, but not controlled by them. Let it sting at first, but don’t let that feeling linger. Being resilient often pushes you on to something better. Just be patient.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There is a whole world of fish tacos that I never knew existed until I moved to San Diego. Any trip to America’s Finest City would not be complete without them.
Best All Around: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood: highly recommend the taco especial and mixed ceviche
Best ambiance: Duke’s in La Jolla: go during sunset for full effect
Activities: Check out the seals in La Jolla Cove. They’re smelly but they’re cute. Stroll through the streets of Little Italy and stop for some pizza and gelato
Hike along the cliffsides of Torrey Pines
Paddle board around Mission Bay – get rentals from Mission Bay Aquatic Center
Rent bikes and ride along the trail in Coronado.
Check out the iconic Hotel del Coronado for lunch on their sun deck with gorgeous views of the ocean
Shop at my favorite San Diego boutique, Bobbi Rocco
Have a drink on the rooftop bar at Mister A’s. Another one to check out at sunset. In between adventures, turn on the TV and check me out on ABC 10News!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my father. He passed away in 2012, but the values he instilled in me will live on for a lifetime. Jay Delacruz was the greatest person I have ever known – wickedly smart, fully stocked on dad jokes, and beaming with positivity no matter what. He taught me respect, ambition, and supported me when I felt no one else would. His optimistic mindset keeps me going if I ever feel like giving up. He’s a first-generation Cuban immigrant and while that feat carried its own challenges – he always made the best of every situation. He is missed beyond what words could ever say, but if he was here today, I think he would be pretty proud. His mantra was always, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” He’s my moral compass that guides me in the right direction.