When Javanté Ingram visited Birmingham for the first time she instantly knew this city would be her next home. At the time, the New Orleans native was working as an anchor for a television station in Mississippi, but was considering a position with ABC 33/40, where she’s been working as traffic anchor for “Good Morning Alabama” and co-host of “Talk of Alabama” since 2016. Now it’s her turn to be interviewed! We had a chat with Javanté — better known to friends, family and colleagues as Java — about her love for Birmingham and what she’s doing to bring more magic to the Magic City. Meet our newest FACE of Birmingham!
What drew you to Birmingham?
Honestly, Birmingham wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t have any connections — as far as family or friends — to Birmingham. So when I came here for my interview, it was the first time I had ever driven into the city and I was blown away by the aesthetic beauty of the city — the trees, the mountains the rolling hills. This is the hidden jewel of the South. I loved it immediately. And I knew that this was where I was going to be moving next.
Many residents believe that Birmingham is experiencing a renaissance right now. Do you see evidence of this in the work that you do?
I’m coming in and I’m seeing the vibrancy and being able to benefit from it, but I can remember some of my first “Talk of Alabama” interviews with people who have been here for their whole life or for decades, and I absolutely hear time and time again that there’s this rebirth. There’s this renewed energy and excitement and vibrancy, and every time I would go out after work or on the weekend I would see that in action. I definitely feel like this is the perfect time to be living and working in Birmingham.
What role do you feel media does play or should play in the revitalization of Birmingham?
I think we play a significant role, because it’s our duty and responsibility to share what is happening to a larger audience. I always love going out and being able to be in the community and tell stories, because I feel like that’s a story that otherwise would not have been shared. And I think sharing the revitalization and the growth and all the vibrancy that’s happening in the city is spurring it on, because then someone who perhaps is not happy with their day job and they have this dream, this goal, this vision to start a business or start a nonprofit organization for this cause that they’re passionate about, they can see and hear someone’s story and how they’ve done it and say, “OK, they’ve done it. Maybe I can do it too. Maybe I can take that first step and make this a reality.” And that’s just going to make our city, our community, our state better.
What do you like most about your job? What do you find most rewarding?
I have never met a stranger, and I love hearing people’s stories, so it’s a joy to be able to do that every day on “Talk of Alabama.” Every artist, entrepreneur, community leader and author that I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing has enriched my life and has helped to make me a better person. For that, I’m forever grateful. It’s my hope to continue sharing stories that might not otherwise have been shared of phenomenal Alabamians who are sowing good seeds into the ever-changing landscape of Birmingham and surrounding cities. In addition to co-hosting “Talk of Alabama,” I go out in the community and shoot, write and edit lifestyle stories for the show. It’s also rewarding, when I get the chance to interact with viewers when I’m volunteering in the community or at the grocery store, to hear how much they enjoy “Good Morning Alabama” and “Talk of Alabama.” It’s an honor to be a part of so many people’s morning routine.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging part is the schedule! Since starting my on-air career, I’ve worked this schedule, 4 a.m. to noon. And though my body has gotten used to it, as you can imagine, it makes having a social life challenging! But it’s worth it, because I love helping people get their day started and hopefully making their day a little brighter. I’ve also always been a morning person and that helps.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
There is always an event, a food festival, a gala; there’s always something going on, and I’m at every single one of those. I need to calm down and not do so much. But I’ve moved a lot, and every time I’ve moved to a different city, it’s been my goal to not just work there but to plant myself in that community and really bloom where I’m planted. And the way you do that is by getting out and getting involved with different organizations and volunteering and going to different events, so you can really understand the heartbeat of that city. I’ve had so much fun getting connected here in Birmingham. I want to know what’s going on and be a part of it. Anything with food, I’m there. And I’m really passionate about the arts community. I’ve been dancing since I was 4, and I went to college originally for ballet. So you’ll often find me going to see a musical or a dance performance or going to an Art Crawl.
You mentioned the importance of volunteering. Tell us about some of the community work you do.
I was the emcee for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Purple Stride 5K. I’m a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama Leadership Council and worked with them on their Dancing for the Future Stars event. I helped with the Ronald McDonald House’s Celebrity Fashion Show, and there’s a long list of others. That’s my heart — being in the community and being able to highlight and celebrate these organizations that are doing so much every single day. That’s what I love doing.
What are some of your favorite places in Birmingham?
I love brunch. My friends and I call ourselves the Breakfast Club. So we’re always brunch-hopping. We love FIVE and their Jazz Brunch. I live for that breakfast burger. Also Roots & Revelry for breakfast, lunch and dinner — I love everything that they do. And I like the Hotbox at Parkside in Avondale.
I love hiking, so Red Mountain Park is my favorite place. I love on Saturday morning or Sunday morning to go for a hike, and that view of the city from Grace’s Gap — so awesome!
Do you have any personality quirks that readers would be surprised to learn?
I whistle all the time.
What’s the best advice you have to give or the best advice you’ve been given?
Have a strong work ethic, be kind and always be true to yourself.
Besides faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Mascara, hand sanitizer and my journal.
Thank you, Javanté! Learn more about Javanté’s work with ABC 33/40 at abc3340.com.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s beautiful photography of Javanté at Railroad Park.
Meet more amazing Birmingham women in our FACES archives. Prepare to be inspired!