How My Late Father Defined My Career - Grace Kuria Tells All

  • Media personality Grace Kuria
    Media personality Grace Kuria
  • In just 5 years, Kenyan journalist Grace Kuria battled depression, overcame a crippling chronic disease, worked for two of the county's leading media houses (K24 & KTN), and wound up as a New Media Editor at CGTN Africa.

    Unknown to most, the renowned journalist almost lost it all back in May 2016, when she lost her dad just a month before his birthday, her graduation, as well as her own birthday.

    Described as one of Kenya's fastest rising media stars, the graceful Kuria opened up to, and detailed how she turned one of, if not the darkest day of her life, into a story of triumph.

    The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) alumnus powered through the harrowing trip down memory lane and laid bare the most intimate details of her personal journey so far.

    CGTN's a Grace Kuria taping a news briefing from her home when she worked with KTN.
    CGTN's a Grace Kuria taping a news briefing from her home when she worked with KTN.

    Here's the story of Grace Kuria, in her own words:

    What was the single biggest lesson you learned from your dad, and how did this shape you into the person you are today? 

    My dad was (hurts to refer to him in past tense) my number one fan, my goodness. 

    He always used to share my stories on Facebook. He would always post my features there and ask people to watch.

    There's this day, I guess it was like my second ever feature story on K24 (it was supposed to air on a Sunday).

    We had asked people to watch, using our separate social media accounts, then the story 'died' (the story got shelved), it happens a lot but this was the first time one of my stories ended up in the gallows.

    I was so hurt, I actually cried.

    I remember my dad called immediately to encourage me and walk me through the tears.

    He then went on his Facebook page and informed his friends that my story wouldn't air as scheduled. How I miss him. I wish he didn't die.

    My dad saw all these for me, by all these I mean who I have become. He saw it. He even posted it on Facebook (I'll share his post)...the saddest thing is he never lived to see me anchor the news.

    How I miss and love him. It hurts a lot.
    But I love talking about him. I really miss him and wish he didn't die lakini ni sawa tu, ni life.

    I thank God for my people, my mother, my brother, my man, they have been my people, my strength.

    My mama took care of me when I was sick last year, which I will never forget.

    My brother was there for me despite being younger than me.

    My man was there all through.

    I am forever grateful to have them in my life.

    Grace went on to share photos she had on Facebook back in 2013. What immediately stands out is a comment from her dad that not only warms the heart but his words and dreams for his daughter actually came true.

    "I see by then you'll be telecasting straight from the walls. You won't need a teleprompter... we'll be watching you on our walls, floors, and ceilings," his message in response to her photo reads in part.

    I've noticed that you always attribute most of your success to your time at K24, why?

    K24 is where I started. It's where I learned how to voice, script, especially in Swahili, I was terrible.

    In fact, I didn't believe I could do Swahili stories, I used to do a feature, then get someone to do the Swahili version.

    It's the place I did my first feature, first PTC, first live link.

    Simply put, it's my place of firsts.

    There's a song I love that has a line that says 'a forgetful person is an ungrateful person.'

    Yes, I started small, but I can never forget nor despise my humble beginnings. 

    Everything always tends to come full circle as it is through K24 that I got to KTN, and now CGTN.

    How did the CGTN job come about? Also, what do you miss the most from your time at KTN News?

    Funny thing is I simply applied.

    When it comes to most international media jobs you have to apply, as they rarely poach people.

    So I did just that, applied, was shortlisted for an interview then I qualified for the job, all glory to God.

    I also need to credit my man coz he's actually the one who made sure that I sent out my application. 

    Well, KTN was great. I was an anchor, so I definitely miss that and the interaction with my fans, but I love my new job, it's a new and different experience and I'm all about learning.

    What would you point out as the biggest challenge in your new job, and how did you overcome it?

    I had to adapt to the different ways of doing things. I wouldn't classify it as a challenge though.

    I had never worked in an international media house before. There are so many nationalities that make it vibrant, different, and fun.

    Now (3 months down the line) I am fully integrated into the system.

    If asked to mention one key thing/trait needed to make it in the media industry, what would it be?

    Be a go-getter. Know what you want and go for it.

    Have you ever encountered a hostile or uncooperative interviewee? If yes, how did you handle it? 

    I wouldn't call that particular interviewee hostile but there's this one time we had someone in the studio who I guess was camera shy and she just couldn't articulate herself clearly.

    She kept responding with one-word answers, which can be quite frustrating.

    I did my best to make her comfortable and at ease and it all worked out in the end. 

    What is the inspiration/story behind sharing job opportunities on your social media pages?

    Well, everyone is going through a  really tough time, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    God has blessed me with a following especially on Twitter so I figured why not make good use of it and post job opportunities!

    I'd say so far so good.

    Also, this is where I say thank you to all who share opportunities with me so I can post.

    Have you ever, or do you actively engage in mentorship programs?

    Yes, I have been invited to various mentorship programs, which I really loved.

    A lot of people on Twitter also ask me whether I plan to have my own mentorship program, the answer is yes. Hopefully soon.

    A parting shot for any Kenyan working towards a career in the media industry. 

    Just go for it.

    Know what you want and just go for it, there's room for everyone in the space. 

    File image of CGTN News Anchor Grace Kuria.
    File image of CGTN News Anchor Grace Kuria.