My name is Imani Butts and I am a junior Journalism and Media major at CCIM. I had a wonderful opportunity to be the moderator for Excellence in Leadership Spring 2022 Speaker Series, with guest speaker Rachel Lindsey. Rachel Lindsay is an attorney, media host, and podcaster, best known for her groundbreaking turn as the first and only African American lead on ABC’s The Bachelorette.
When I was approached with the opportunity to be the moderator for the EIL Speaker Series, I was extremely excited, but also immensely nervous. As a reporter for NewsLink Indiana and as a member of the Ball State Speech Team, I’m not a novice when it comes to public speaking. However, this would be my first time interviewing a celebrity. Not to mention, I’m an avid viewer of the Bachelorette and fan of Rachel Lindsey. I would be interviewing someone I honestly admire as a professional, as a media personality, and as a black woman. However, nervousness was not going to stray me away from this opportunity.
About 20 minutes prior to the event starting, Rachel received a phone call. So I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to her prior to stepping on stage. Once the two of us were introduced, I sat down in my seat. Then Rachel stepped to the podium to give her opening to the audience. I tried my best to not look anxious while sitting by myself. Rachel revealed in her opening that the phone call she received was from a family member letting her know that her college-aged cousin passed away in a car accident and that she wanted to be transparent that she wasn’t okay. She explained that she loved Ball State’s motto, We Fly. Since it is similar to something that she said in her audition tape for the Bachelor. She also said it reminded her about how time on Earth is finite.
At that moment, I relaxed because she was genuinely being herself and the preconceived notion that made me nervous about interviewing her slipped away. Of course, all celebrities are human beings with emotions. However, being in front of her witnessing those emotions made it easier to connect with her when asking the questions.
She is a great person, truly. She answered my questions and the audiences’ questions with no shame, whether it was about her personal life, her career, or the Bachelorette. It was a great experience that I enjoyed very much.
Looking back at the experience, I was very comfortable once the conversation started. I think every prepared speech or extemporaneous moment on air prepared me for this opportunity. In most of my public speaking engagements, I am generally addressing a serious topic whether it’s through my reports or my speeches. However, this is the first time I got to be myself as an interviewer. This experience was a very controlled environment that allowed me to be relaxed.
However, because of the uncomfortable and challenging speaking situations, I am in when it relates to my organizations, my interviewing skills were the last thing I was worried about. Journalism skills are useful in most situations that involve communication in any form. You learn to listen attentively and think reactively. Which I needed to do in order to relate all the questions I asked Rachel during the conversation. I was confident that I would be asking good questions that would elicit thorough responses from Rachel. Since I’ve been taught how to ask good questions by my professors and mentors here at Ball State. This interview reassured me that I am moving in the right direction. I am forever grateful to Ball State and EIL. They gave me the chance to prove that to a live audience, but also to myself.