Tuwanda Coleman interviewed us for a segment on Talk of the Town when we hosted the StyleBlueprint High-End Women’s Consignment Sale last February. Tuwanda was personal, engaging and funny; she put us TV amateurs at instant ease. She has been working at Channel 5 for almost 30 years, landing the job right after she graduated from college, and has been gracing us with her smile ever since. We are thrilled to have Tuwanda as today’s FACES of Nashville feature.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cadiz, Kentucky. It’s about 75 miles from Nashville in the southwest part of Kentucky. It’s a small town full of big-hearted people!
When and why did you move to Nashville?
I moved to Nashville in 1982 to take a job at Channel 5. It was just two weeks after I graduated from college. I was one of the fortunate college grads who was able to land a job in my major right out of school!
What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given?
A dear friend of mine used to say to me all the time, and it has become my mantra, “Don’t worry about things you can’t change.” Remembering those words has served me very well in my personal life, as well as in my profession. There are certain genetic things about my body that I cannot change. I can exercise all I want and if it’s not in my DNA, nothing’s going to change. So why worry about it? Just accept it. And in working as a reporter on “live” television, I frequently find myself muttering my mantra, because once something has been said or done and sent out over the airwaves into thousands of homes, there is no going back. So, if I totally flub my words for all the world to see…oh well. Better luck next time!
Tell us your funniest on-air moment:
One of my first reporting assignments with Talk of the Town was to tape several stories at the Wilson County Fair. We started out with your typical fair attractions like the rides and food, but then the Fair officials suggested I share with our viewers their most popular attraction – a hypnotist. I had always been skeptical of hypnosis, but I thought, “Why not?” I seriously did not believe it would work on me. But, much to my surprise, all my skepticism was quickly washed away. I REALLY was hypnotized! There was no magic, no trickery. My photographer let the hypnotist “keep me under” for about 45 minutes, and I did and said things I never would have done had I been in my right mind. We aired two 7-minute segments on Talk of the Town of me doing and saying the craziest, strangest things! It was truly an out-of-body experience! Being hypnotized is still how a lot of viewers remember me best, and they sometimes question the validity of the story. I assure them that I would never try and pass anything off as real that’s really fake (except for maybe some hairpieces). And then there are those who say I didn’t believe in hypnosis until I saw you! It was all so out of character for me that I would not have believed it myself, had it not actually happened to me.
Do you have an irrational fears?
I am deathly afraid of mice and rats. It’s a true phobia. I can’t even look at an animated one on television. It’s pretty bad.
What books can be found on your bedside table?
Working as a producer, rarely do I have to buy a book, as so many interesting ones come across my desk as potential guest ideas. I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. What a great book! The movie is coming out in the next couple of months and I can’t wait to see it. I’m a huge Oprah Winfrey fan, so I’m about to start reading Where Has Oprah Taken Us by Stephen Mansfield. I am forever watching what I eat and looking for ways to keep the pounds away, so I’ve also been browsing The 17-Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno. I don’t believe in fad diets, but this book piqued my interest because I wanted to see what it would say I’m doing right, and what I’m doing wrong.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Spend some good quality time with my sweet fiancé! He works weekday nights so we cherish our weekend nights together. Saturday is our “date night.” We usually go catch a movie and share a big bucket of popcorn (one half butter and the other unbuttered). After the movie we might go to dinner or go shopping…sometimes both! It really doesn’t matter to me what we do, just as long as we’re together.
I’ve heard there is a funny story on how you met your fiancee. Would you share it?
It really is funny! It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the abbreviated version: I was on my way to the gym early one morning when I got pulled over for speeding. The police officer checked out my driver’s license and other official information and after it came back okay, he decided that he was “only going to give me a warning.” Then and ONLY then did I relax and look directly at him. I liked what I saw! So when I got to work that day I told a co-worker about my speeding episode and the cute police officer who pulled me over. She suggested that if I saw him again, to write his car number down and we would see what we could find out about him. After all, we know a lot of police officers by way of working with the police department on various news stories. Well, a week later as I was heading home from the gym, I saw a police car parked not far from where I was pulled over. I recognized that it was the same police officer. He obviously recognized my car too because he waved at me! As I waved back, I made a mental note of his car number. When I got to work that day, I asked one of my co-workers whose husband is also a police officer to help me find out who drove that car. The next day she came back with not only a name, but a phone number, as well. And she had good things to say about him. But being the old-fashioned girl that I am, I set the phone number aside and did not call him. Two weeks later she asked had I called the officer yet, and when I told her I had not, she said she was going to tell him to call me. I was okay with that. The next day he called, and here we are almost 3 years later engaged to be married! I never in a million years would have imagined I would meet my future husband on the side of the road with blue lights flashing behind me – but I did!
What is your “must-have” purchase for summer 2011?
A nice pair of nude colored sandals.
Where is your favorite place to eat in Nashville?
I love the food and atmosphere at P.F. Chang’s.
How did you get started in collecting African art?
I started collecting African art about 15 years ago when I fell in love with an African print. It had these gorgeous, vivid colors and I thought it would work perfectly over the fireplace in my new apartment. Shortly after that, a friend gave me two housewarming gifts she thought complimented the print, a wooden sculpture for my hearth and a mask for my wall. I later learned that the mask was a traditional African piece that had special meaning. The attached note said something of the nature that if I hung it near a door, it would welcome in good luck and good friends. And from there, collecting the art became more about the symbolism rather than the look.
Do you have a playlist for a dinner party or a great workout that you can share with our readers?
When I’m cleaning the house or when I workout you can bet I will have my music with me. On my playlist you will find a little of everything, but definitely a lot of old school pop and R&B! I’m a huge Luther Vandross fan. His music won’t necessary put a lot of “pep in your step,” but it will make you fall in love. I also listen to Usher, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, BeBe & CeCe Winans, One Republic, Wham, Adele, Blackeyed Peas, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, Rascal Flatts, Kenny G and Linkin Park. As you can see I have diverse tastes in music!
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God):
I could not live without my Bible (it gives me strength), a cozy blanket (I love to cuddle underneath one) and a television (it reminds me that I have one of the greatest jobs in the world!).