Vanessa Echols is a news anchor for WFTV9 Orlando and host of the Colorblind: Race Across Generations podcast. Her show’s mission is to have constructive, revealing, and honest conversations about race. In bringing together a diverse group of guests, Vanessa creates a supportive environment for questions and discussion surrounding race in America and beyond.
In addition to being a podcast host and news personality, Vanessa is also the founder of Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach, a local non-profit dedicated to providing support for those battling breast cancer in central Florida. As a breast cancer survivor herself, Vanessa knows how imperative it is to have a helping hand in the fight against the disease.
Read on for Vanessa’s story in her own words, and listen to her show at the links below (leave a review, too!):
Tell us what your podcast is about in 3 sentences or less!
Colorblind is a safe community to talk about the issues of race. It’s for people with an open mind and an open heart, willing to have honest, candid and sometimes tough conversations about how race affects our everyday lives.
What’s a quote or piece of advice that you try to live by?
Opportunities often come disguised as obstacles.
Being organized. Give me a mess and I can organize it like a ninja!
One thing on your bucket list:
See South Africa.
“These Three Words” by Stevie Wonder
Last text message you sent:
“This ABC special about race has me doing the ugly cry”
What was your first job?
Doctor’s office receptionist
Any unusual hobbies?
Who has time for hobbies? LOL
Biggest Pet Peeve:
People not following through when they say they’re going to do something.
What inspired you to start your podcast?
Our corporate office had a contest for ideas. Race is a subject I’ve always wanted to discuss on some form of media in a real way and never had a platform to do it.
Tell us more about your work/life outside of your podcast.
I’m a part-time podcaster. My paying job is a News Anchor at the ABC affiliate in Orlando, FL. I also am founder of a breast cancer charity and host of a YouTube Channel.
What is your show’s USP?
We’re talking about race with people of different races and generations.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced with your podcast?
Managing all the technical stuff of actually getting the podcast out there on a platform where people can find it and listen.
What was one of your favorite episodes you’ve ever done? Why does it stand out?
The Legacy of Lynching – we talked about a lynching marker dedicated in memory of a man who was lynched 100 years ago on Election Night. That night a mob burned Black homes and businesses in Ocoee Florida and ran every Black resident out of town. It was years before Black residents returned.
What is one thing you have accomplished with your podcast thus far that you are most proud of?
People have been surprisingly honest about talking about race. One guest who is white admitted that she realized she was racist. She was married to a black man at the time she came to that realization. I was stunned.
What is one major milestone that you would like to accomplish through your podcast in the next year?
I’d like to get more nationally known guests.
What is a trend or development in the podcast industry that you foresee happening in the next few years?
There will be more people who have felt voiceless getting a chance to have a voice through podcasting.
What is one of the best pieces of podcast-related advice you’ve ever received & why?
Don’t be afraid of any subject, just go for it.
What is one of the worst pieces of podcast-related advice you have ever received & why?
Nobody wants to listen to a podcast about race. People are tired of talking about race.
What are some of your favorite women-hosted podcasts?
Can you tell us about a time when you took a huge risk/did something you were scared to do, and it totally paid off?
After being diagnosed and successfully treated, I started a breast cancer charity to help patients pay household bills while they’re going through treatment. I thought I’d help a couple of people pay a few bills. Thirteen years later, we’ve helped hundreds of patients and paid thousand of dollars to help with bills.
Are there any great podcast-related resources you love that you would like to share?
Is there a charity or cause you care about that you would like to share?
The one I created: Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach
How do you feel you’re making a positive impact and generating change through your podcast?
People are actually talking openly about race and not afraid to ask difficult questions.