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Meet Dontaira Terrell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dontaira Terrell.

Dontaira, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. To stay abreast of the latest music and fashion trends, I would purchase various magazines, CDs and maintained a collage of all my favorite entertainers. At one point, my bedroom was filled with posters and clippings labeled with handwritten facts (personal and professional) about each person’s career. If you quizzed me on any of my favorite celebs, you would be stunned at all of the significant facts I knew about each of them.

After graduating high school, I headed down south to attend Florida A&M University (FAMU), where I majored in Journalism with a concentration in PR/minor in Theatre Arts. It was during this time I received my first taste of the national TV arena with an internship during my sophomore year at Good Morning America (GMA) in New York City. I vividly remember the excitement and adrenaline rush I experienced every morning as I admiringly watched the beauty of storytelling as Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts connected daily with millions of viewers.

I did not consider this internship a job, but an opportunity – a dream in the making. GMA gave me a look inside celebrity culture and opened the door to multiple opportunities, including corporate offices of the National Basketball Association, Florida Legislative Black Caucus, AmericanAirlines Arena (The HEAT Group), PR agencies, National Football League Alumni Association, and ESPN.

Fast-forward and my work has appeared in countless national mediums, including Shondaland, BET, VH1, MTV, Black Enterprise, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Recording Academy, and REVOLT TV. I’ve also been featured in the Nw York Times and Forbes. My career highlights include exclusive interview coverage of celebrities such as Michael B. Jordan, Tyra Banks, Demi Moore, Russell Westbrook, Taraji P. Henson, and many more. Under the Obama Administration, I traveled to DC and covered former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Beating the Odds Summit and to South Africa to interview one of the only Black women winemakers in the region.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road. I used to equate rejection with failure, but I’ve learned rejection is necessary along your road to success. Trust me; I’ve been told “NO” more times than I’ve been told “YES,” but I realize it’s only a slight detour to your ultimate destination.

Early in my career, I allowed it [rejection] to paralyze my growth and ambition to move forward by dwelling on what I should’ve done instead of focusing on what was in front of me—and capitalizing on the opportunity to learn from the experience in order to move forward. Every day, I work hard not to allow failure or rejection to define me or stop me along my career journey. I’ve realized I’m not alone because everyone fails, but it’s up to me to decide whether or not I allow it to stagnate my growth or propel my ambition to keep going and tackle my goals one at a time. Let’s start normalizing failure as a learning tool instead of a taboo topic that many are afraid to admit and discuss.

Some of the other struggles along the way have been allowing people to influence my decisions, being my own worst critic, and not taking enough calculated risks in fear of focusing on the negative possibilities instead of the endless potentialities.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m an entertainment journalist and on-air host. While interviewing industry leaders and tastemakers, I’m known for quality storytelling that invokes emotion and authenticity. This business can be callous and often discouraging, but what sets me apart is my tenacious work-ethic and strong-willed desire to stay true to my own voice, writing style, and the ability to pass on an opportunity if it is not a good fit. After all, my daily reminder is that my work is a reflection of me.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I had an amazing childhood, so I have a lot of favorite memories. But visiting my sister in Washington, DC, while she was in college at Howard University (HU) is one of my fondest memories. I always looked forward to my weekly visits! I spent so much time in the dorms, on the campus, attending classes, homecomings, and extracurricular events; it was my home away from home, and at 12-years old, you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t a Bison!

Although I’m a proud graduate of Florida A&M University (FAMU), Howard University was a staple in my childhood during my coming of age and will always have a special place in my heart.

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Image Credit:

Photo titled Personal Photo: MAD Works Photography, Photo titled Writing: Leah Eversley Photography, Photo titled Jim Tressel: Keynote Media Group, LLC

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