Journalist, Host, Producer, Reality TV Star, Brand Ambassador, Philanthropist: those are just a few of the monikers that apply to Sharon Carpenter, award winning broadcast journalist and host on music network REVOLT TV. Having started as an associate producer for a local news station in NYC, Sharon has shown the grace and determination that we associate with our COCOBelle moniker in making her career her own. She has created and launched television shows; interviewed MAJOR celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Colin Powell; and received both national and international recognition for her on-air work, and her charitable works.
We were honored to have the opportunity to pick Sharon’s brain on everything from growing up as the daughter of two doctors, to lessons learned from being on reality television, to styling tips for curly girls. And, we would have been remiss if we didn’t also find out what’s in her Ultimate Beauty Arsenal.
With parents who are both doctors, was there ever a moment when you thought you would be a doctor as well? Or did you always have a passion for journalism?
Yes my mum and my stepdad are both doctors, but luckily for me they’ve always been very accepting of the fact that I wanted to go in a different direction with my career. I get a little queasy when it comes to blood and guts so I wouldn’t be a great doctor. I did, however, want to be a vet at one point as a kid. I also had dreams of becoming a fashion designer after winning a design competition as a kid. Broadcast journalism, believe it or not, was something I kind of stumbled into but once I had a taste I knew this was where I was supposed to be! I get to uncover the stories of some of the most interesting people in the world and I get to educate and inform young audiences. This is my passion.
You’ve interviewed some pretty major celebrities, including: Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna and Colin Powell. What is the best tip or piece of advice you’ve received from one of them?
I don’t really ask my interviewees for advice per se but of course a lot of them drop great knowledge during our conversations. Sometimes I learn just by observing them. I remember watching Beyonce during a rehearsal for a performance she was doing at the BET Awards one year and seeing how particular she was about everything – she knew exactly what she wanted. That was inspirational to me. She’s obviously a woman who is about her business. I’m someone who is very particular too, often times a perfectionist when it comes to my work. Sometimes people around you complain or try to make you feel guilty for having high standards – they’re usually the ones who don’t want to put in the work themselves.
My advice – never drop your standards to make others feel better. Strive for the best at all times.
What has it been like working for an innovative network like REVOLT TV? Do you find opportunities to be more uniquely creative than with some of the other news and business management programming you’ve hosted?
It’s been a fantastic experience being involved with REVOLT from the ground up. It’s so exciting to see it blossom into something great. Already we are establishing a solid name for ourselves as a credible source for music news – we break stories every single day. We introduce hot, new artists to our audience. We are becoming the CNN or ESPN of music. We’re bringing real music and music journalism back to TV.
Now I think it’s natural for entertainment news to lend itself to a more creative style of storytelling at the end of the day but you’d be surprised how creative I got when it came to some of the business stories I did for CBS or hard news stories I did for the BBC and BET. At BBC News, for example, I learned the concept of making sure every single visual used in a report tells a story. If you turn the volume down the audience should still be able to tell what’s happening.
Whichever network I’m working for I always look for compelling and creative ways to get the audience interested and those ways have to be adjusted depending on the audience I’m trying to reach.
Has your life changed since being on VH1’s The Gossip Game and sharing more of an inside look at your life with the world?
Not hugely to be honest. I have a much higher profile now and when I visit the most random, odd places people always seem to recognize me there – but my life is still the same. I’m still out there doing what I love – journalism and making TV. What has changed is that now I’m the co-creator of a TV show that had over a million viewers tune in each week – I’m super proud of that – and there will be more to come, lol.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from being on reality television?
That people take reality TV very, very seriously and, even when they’ve never met you, they often take your actions personally. I guess those are good things though otherwise they wouldn’t be tuning in, lol.
How did it feel to be honored with the URAWARRIOR Award by Bershan Shaw, (one of our previous COCOBelles)? And have other women been inspired by your story of overcoming adversity?
I was extremely humbled to be honored by Bershan for being a role model in the world of journalism. My mission, whether I’m covering hard news or entertainment, is as any journalist’s mission should be – to seek the truth and deliver the facts. That’s our responsibility. I’m here to educate and inform (in an entertaining way if possible). My audience is a pretty young audience and has been for most of my career. I’ve always worked to find ways to make the news, hard news especially, appealing to younger viewers.
I do have a lot of young women contacting me, from across the world, about being inspired by my journey and that makes all the hard work even more worthwhile. I try to find as much time as possible to give advice when I can.
And can I just say how amazing Bershan is?! She has such an incredible story–so inspirational.
What advice would you give to women who want to move to the next phase of their careers but are afraid to take the leap?
I’ve certainly taken risks in my career. Success doesn’t just happen. You can’t sit there and wait for it. You have to go out there, full force, and go get it!! Follow your passion – it won’t even seem like a job and all the risks will always be worth it.
Congratulations on your ad campaign with Miss Jessie’s for Multicultural Curls! Any styling tips for other multicultural curly girls?
Thanks so much. Curly girls should definitely try out Multicultural Curls! It works so well on all my curls, giving them bounce, definition and preventing frizz. My best styling tip would be, if your curls are flat after sleeping on them overnight (which always happens to me) you can easily resuscitate them by wetting your hair a little and applying a little of the product. Once your hair dries – bam, you’re good to go.
Let’s talk beauty. What is your beauty routine like when you are off-camera?
Off camera I keep my makeup pretty light. A little foundation or concealer, some mascara and a natural pink lip gloss; perhaps a little bronzer too, to give me that glow. I love the natural look. I always make sure to take all of my makeup off at night – very important – and to use moisturizer morning and night! Keep your skin hydrated. So obvious but a lot of people don’t do it, lol.
What three beauty products are in what we like to call your ‘Ultimate Beauty Arsenal’–those 3 things that you absolutely can NOT live without?
Calvin Klein’s CK One Volumizing Mascara, Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes and a MAC palette of natural pink lip glosses.