BABE #93: ANNDI JINELLE LIGGETT, Executive Assistant to Al Roker @ NBC's Today Show
Anndi is the definition of a hustlin' Babe. We met in college via mutual friends, and I was always blown away by her ridiculously busy campus involvement and ability to juggle a million things at once. Immediately following graduation, she moved to Paris and became an Au Pair, before making her way to NYC where she's currently working toward the career of her dreams... all within the span of two years. I definitely can't say I'm surprised. Thanks for chatting with us, Anndi! You're certainly a babe.
Babe you admire and why?
Aside from my mom - who is the biggest hustlin’ babe I know personally - I would say Issa Rae. She built a fan-following by creating her own content on YouTube, and from that, HBO endowed her with her own show to star in, write, and produce. Super dope.
Favorite app, website or blog?
Chani Nicholas. I need my weekly dose of horoscopes. And Twitter is great. Protect that app at all costs.
Must-have item in your purse?
At the risk of sounding like a bad Cosmo article, I must have two shades of lipstick with me at all times.
Go-to coffee order?
Honestly just anything that wakes me up.
Go-to adult beverage?
Pinot grigio if I’m at the house. Anything with tequila when I’m out.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Mac & Cheese!
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Spinach, mushrooms, and pesto. For some reason I find a way to put one of those in every dish.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Solange. And I want it to be in New Orleans.
Tell us about your hustle:
My main job as Executive Assistant to Al Roker includes maintaining his schedule, booking all travel, processing expenses, and facilitating communication on his behalf, et cetera. In my second job as Community Relations for The Skin Deep, a production company based in Brooklyn, I mainly run all social media accounts but also take time to reach out to potential influencers to collaborate with.
What does your typical workday look like?
No day is ever the same, which is a blessing and a curse. The beginning of my day always starts at 30 Rock, which isn't a bad way to start! I spend about an hour or two on set of Today Show to assist Al, then head to my desk to do more administrative work like phone calls and emails, etc. Afterwards I may go on a shoot with Al and assist his producer or I'll head to Al Roker Entertainment, Inc, which is Al’s production company. Around 4:30pm, I hop the train to Brooklyn where I work a couple hours at The Skin Deep office, and head home between 6:30-8pm.
What is your work environment/office culture like?
I technically work in 3 different offices, so that’s difficult to answer. I’m lucky to work with people in all three who are incredibly focused and take their jobs seriously, yet who I can also crack jokes and grab drinks with after we clock out. NBC and Al Roker Entertainment are more established, corporate companies, whereas The Skin Deep is a smaller startup, so I really enjoy getting a taste of both environments throughout the day. It should also be noted that The Skin Deep is a company focused on human connections, so we do a lot atypical things like hug everyone as we enter a room or talk about how we’re personally feeling before diving into a meeting. It’s very special and something I appreciate immensely.
How did you land your role as Al Roker's assistant and find your 'in' to the industry?
After living abroad for a year, I decided to make a week-long pit stop in New York to visit my sister. While I was there, she insisted that I apply for jobs when I was really just trying to relax - ha! I extended my stay and was lucky enough to land a couple of interviews with Huffington Post, Food Network, & also ABC. The last one with ABC was with a journalist named Deborah Roberts, who happens to be Al Roker’s wife. I didn’t get a position with her, but one random Sunday I had a missed call, text, and email from Al Roker saying he wanted me to interview for his Executive Assistant position. The very next day, I nervously walked into his office, babbled for for ten minutes, shook his hand and was escorted to the door. I just KNEW I didn’t get it, so you can imagine my surprise when I got a call 3 days later telling me that I started my job on Monday.
How is the role of a personal assistant different in real life versus how it’s portrayed in the movies/TV?
The thing about being an assistant is that it’s different depending on who you’re working for. I vividly remember watching The Devil Wears Prada before my first day, trying to prepare myself for the worst case scenario. But my experience has been the exact opposite! I feel lucky to have a boss that is not only kind but funny, full of energy and encouraging in my career goals. The job can be demanding at times, but the pros (aka the perks!) definitely outweigh the cons.
Have you always had an interest in storytelling? What draws you to the entertainment industry?
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. My first “book” in first grade was about a Cat-girl with superpowers just trying to live a normal life. (Disney Channel, call me!) But my love of storytelling really stems from my love of people. We are all full of complexity, full of nuances, full of experiences specific to us and us only. The best stories, in my opinion, are not the ones with the most dramatic twists or the most innovative plot points, but the ones with the most complicated and fully-developed characters. Television can be either an escape or imitated reality, and I personally prefer the latter.
How do you manage being the right-hand woman, creating content, meeting deadlines, managing data, etc?
I am not naturally organized. It’s actually very hard for me. But my job(s) forced me to change my bad habits very quickly. I write EVERYTHING down. And I am now crazy, crazy, crazy about making lists. It helps me not only organize but prioritize my responsibilities.
How would you say your gender or ethnicity has affected your professional experience?
Wow, how much time do you have? I could write an entire article on this, but I’ll just simply say that being a black woman in the workplace comes with its own set of barriers to overcome. I use those differences as even more motivation to succeed. One awesome thing about being a black woman is the level of solidarity we have with one another. There’s a silent yet fierce connection we share from the moment we meet one another, and its amazing.
What are some of the everyday struggles with your job(s) that we might not see?
Waking up at 5am is really hard.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle at work is always me. I am my harshest critic. I've had to teach myself not to beat myself up after every mistake or shortcoming. Now I know that every mistake is a lesson. Learn from it and then move on. No need to throw a pity party.
What kind of support system do you have behind you and your work?
My friends and family are the GOAT. I would not have the strength or confidence to do anything without them.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? Least favorite?
Favorite: I get to meet my favorite celebrities from time to time. Least: I wake up before the sun does.
What would you say is your biggest strength in your current role?
I work well under pressure. When I have a lot on my plate or I’m approaching a deadline, I tend to get hyper-focused and work faster than the speed of light. I may be screaming internally, but I never let ‘em see me sweat!
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
I need to be less afraid to speak up. I subconsciously feel like my position is too small to voice my opinion or ideas. But I try to remind myself that my voice matters, I matter, and I’m doing a huge disservice to myself by not being more vocal and standing strong in my convictions.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
Issa Rae, Mara Brock-Akil, Misha Green, Jenji Kohan, and of course Queen Shonda Rhimes. All amazing female writers and producers that paved a way for themselves and are just doing the damn thing!
What’s your ultimate dream job?
Television Writer, Producer, & Showrunner. I also plan to start a production company with my sister!
What does success look like to you?
At the end of my career, I want to say that I did everything I could with the maximum amount of effort. Whatever the outcome of that may be, to me, is success. On a superficial note, I want to be able to buy Louboutins without blinking.
How do you find a work-life balance?
Having a social life is very important to me and I will make time for it even at the risk of losing sleep.
What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Netflix and a good glass of wine. Also a phone call to mom never hurts.
What are some notable (funny, embarrassing, intense) experiences you’ve had on the job?
One day it was practically monsooning outside and I came to work without an umbrella or raincoat. I walked in soaking wet and Al said, “Hey maybe you should watch that show you work on! You may notice the guy giving the weather forecast.” It was hilarious and embarrassing.
What are your goals for the future?
Random goal: to be the commencement speaker at a major university. But that’s for much later in life.
What’s next for you?
Never reveal your next move ;)
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Don’t think of every setback as a failure. I sent probably 20 applications to NBC that went nowhere before landing my job. Keep trying, keep pushing!
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