By Brooks Warren
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
WASHINGTON D.C. – Growing up in the nation’s capital, Nayo Campbell never realized that her early fascination with popular television talk shows was planting a seed for a future career in journalism.
Before even thinking about doing schoolwork or playing outside, Nayo would watch ABC’s Live! With Regis and Kelly early in the morning. When she got home in the afternoon after school, she’d plop down on the couch to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show.
By the time Nayo was an 18-year-old senior at Elizabeth Seton, a private, all-girls Roman Catholic high school in Bladensburg, Maryland, she said she had settled on majoring in theater at Howard University. When the rejection letter came and Nayo accepted the fact that her well thought out plans were derailed, her next step was to speak with a school adviser.
Campbell said she was determined to go to Howard and talked with a friend about other possible careers. She thought: “What about journalism?”
“And my friend was like ‘All you do is talk and ask people questions. People are annoyed with you all the time because you’re always in people’s business. You know everything about celebrities. Literally everything. Pop culture. That is something that you should do,’” Nayo remembered. “And I was just like ‘you know what? ‘You’re right.’”
Campbell told the story of her discussion with a friend to show how she “sort of stepped into journalism on accident” and pursued that career at her dream school, Howard University, the same institution that stopped one dream but created new career aspirations. Campbell also was able to continue her family legacy at the Historically black university.
Campbell’s two older brothers, Alfonso Trey and Micah, are Howard graduates. Her father, Alfonso and mother, Janet Harrell, also are graduates and now teach there. Campbell described her father as a professional student, someone who has earned a doctorate degree but continues to research.
“It blessed us because my brothers and I were able to go to college tuition-free,” Campbell said. “And it was at Howard! Growing up I didn’t realize how great of a school Howard is and the legacy it holds until I was a junior and senior in high school and everyone’s talking about ‘oh I want to go to Howard.’ And I’m like ‘really, Why?’”
Campbell graduated from Howard last year with a bachelor’s degree in Media Journalism and Film. She proudly calls herself an alum, along with Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, actress Phylicia Rashad and actor Chadwick Boseman.
Fast forward to today and Campbell, 23, covered red carpets, interviewed scores of celebrities, and written stories about pop culture, lifestyle, and celebrity. Most of her work is on a freelance basis, meaning she works for different companies at different times, rather than being permanently employed by one company. She’s had the opportunity to gain access to events and people through media companies like The Grio, WHUT (Howard University’s virtual television station) and YR Media. And, she producers her own content on a YouTube page, Meet the People.
In addition, Campbell said she also has been working as a game entertainment producer for Monumental Sports and Entertainment. Her producer roots come from her mother who was previously a TV producer, earning credit as a writer and executive producer for her work on the NAACP documentary, The Remarkable Journey, too.
Campbell’s list of top five interviews is also her most confidence-boosting experiences in her short career. She has interviewed actor-singer Jessie Smollet and the cast of the hit Fox TV show Star Gazing at Essence Festival. Her first live on-stage interview was with R&B artist Miguel, and she conducted subsequent interviews with actor LaLa Anthony and radio personality legend Donnie Simpson.
Her interview with Simpson came in the last days of a RadioOne internship Campbell held. Once she built up the nerve to ask for an interview, the two spoke for nearly an hour about the entertainment industry, Campbell said. The conversation ended with Simpson, a legend in the entertainment industry, giving her free career advice, she said.
“I was able to sit at his feet and just ask him whatever I wanted about what I wanted to do. It’s not often that you get to learn about your craft in an interview. That was a gift,” said Campbell explaining her next goal is to be hired as a national reporter by the time she’s 25.