Alumna Q&A: TV host Anna-Kay Thomas ’12
Anna-Kay Thomas ’12 works as a freelance entertainment television host primarily out of New York. She has interviewed the likes of Kevin Jonas, D.M.C., Hoda Kotb, John Starks and other entertainment personalities for various news outlets. Thomas is also an award-winning and nationally-ranked slam poet.
Would you love to live in New York regardless or is it something that has come about because of your work?
AK:I love New York. I think everyone in their twenties should have a period of time when they live in New York. I think that there’s a grit about the city that really humbles you, and as a young professional, that’s a characteristic that’s really helpful for your development. As far as entertainment goes, New York is a wonderful hub for entertainment. There’s a lot of morning talk shows and a lot of syndicated shows that come out of New York. L.A. is definitely the mega-land for it but there’s opportunity in New York as well.
Have you been able to market yourself through social media and an online presence or have you needed to make interpersonal connections as well?
AK: Social media plays a huge part in it but a motto I live by is “work hard and play nice” because no one wants to work with or refer or endorse someone who’s a jerk. It doesn’t mean being fake or being disingenuous, but I think coming at everything with an open mind is really useful for growing your brand. Having a presence online is crucial especially now.
Do you find it hard to balance your commercial work with your artistic work?
AK: I think it can be a balance. I don’t compete as much as I used to or as much as I’d like to, but I’ve been able to bring a lot of the slam poetry I do into the commercial work I do. I just did a video for Huffington Post that was basically one long slam poetry piece. It’s really cool to bring that to mass media and especially for people who don’t know there’s a slam poetry world, they can get a taste of what it’s like. It’s a little more commercial than going to a coffee shop or a venue, but at least, people are getting exposed to the art form.
What was something important that you learned at Dartmouth?
AK: One of the most important things I learned is doing what’s right for you and following your own path. Undergraduate students get so caught up in taking the standard [paths] of being a doctor, being a lawyer or going to grad school or business school. It’s not to say that those paths aren’t great and aren’t right for some people, but I think that there’s more out there than those particular paths. My time at Dartmouth taught me not to be scared to really believe in the things that I’m good at and that I like and that I could make a career out of being authentic to who I am.
I’m not sure how much you keep up on campus issues but over the weekend there was a Blue Lives Matter display set up in Collis that angered many students who felt the display was meant to mock the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking from your experience going to school here and what you’ve seen after graduating, do you think Dartmouth does enough to support minority students on this campus?
AK: I think that Dartmouth does a lot, but there is a lot that needs to be done. It’s getting better. I didn’t actually hear about that news until you told me but that’s very unfortunate. College campuses should be a place where people are free to express themselves, but I think the issue with Black Lives Matter and a lot of the political and socioeconomic unrest in our country stems from a lack of communication and being open to understanding the other side. I think as Dartmouth moves forward there can be a lot done to have people be able to listen to each other on the other side, that communication can help ease a lot of tension on campus.
This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Correction appended (May 17, 2016):
The original version of this article incorrectly quoted Thomas saying "work hard and stay nice." The quote should have read "work hard and play nice" and has since been corrected.