Interview with Journalist/Author Ann Marie Amante.
By Simone Charles. Many persons know her perhaps by only reading about her featured in various local magazines over the years. Some may say, “Oh, she’s the woman who married this famous guy.” A selective senior few may say, “Hey! I know her reporting news on television.” I had the great opportunity to speak with one of the most accomplished, yet exceedingly humble, Mrs Ann Marie Amante. This beautiful and dedicated Trinbagonian woman tells her story, one that will inspire many persons to appreciate the work she has been doing, especially those aspiring journalists.
Where did you grow up, Mrs Amante?
I was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and spent the first few years of my life in Princes Town. I later moved with my parents to East Trinidad (Arima) and then the central part of the country, Chaguanas. I believe that my childhood in Princes Town, a lot of which was spent with my grandparents, aunts and uncles (on my mother’s side), laid the foundation for me. Two of the most important people in my life are my mother and father and it is to them I pay the greatest tribute. For as long as I can remember, they have been the driving force behind all that I do, encouraging me to go after my dreams and supporting me in my decisions. We didn’t have much in terms of material things while I was growing up but I knew contentment because this is what I saw in my parents. My life today is very different to what it was when I was a child but it is filled with memories and life lessons.
Tell me a little about your personal life.
If someone were to tell me a year ago that this is where my life’s journey would take me, I probably would not have believed him/her. I used to wish for my Prince Charming to come riding into my life on a white horse and finally, after many twists and turns my fairy tale happened. Today, I am married to a wonderful, kind and extremely talented man. My husband Michael Amante is a world-renowned Opera and Classical singer with many accomplishments under his belt. He was “the number one classical artiste of the year” in 2002 according to Billboard Magazine. He is an Emmy nominee and he has sung for numerous celebrities including US presidents, Pope John Paul II and Luciano Pavarotti. I tell everyone my husband has a heart of gold and I thank God for him every day.
Did you ever achieve your goals? If yes, how did that make you feel?
Every time I’m asked whether I achieved my goals, I smile because it’s interesting how goals and objectives change as time goes by. For instance, at nine, I wanted to go to Disney World, at 11, I wanted to attend a “prestige” school, and at 14, I decided that I would be on television. I knew that I wanted to be a journalist even before I understood what that truly meant. I have anchored television newscasts, I was a reporter for many years, I was a communications specialist and consultant for the government and huge multi-national companies. As well, I have held very senior public relations and communications positions in the corporate world.
In addition, I have serviced clients throughout the Caribbean region and been involved in numerous charitable projects and organisations. I have also lectured in journalism and public relations and won awards for my contribution to media. I feel blessed indeed that I have been able to achieve this much professionally. My goals now are not so much about what I want but instead how can I help others achieve theirs. My passion and vision is now rooted in the concept of transformational living and helping others reach their full potential. I guess you can say this forms the basis of both my professional and personal goals.
I self-published my first inspirational book in 2014 and I’m now fully committed to my new family and my parents. Most importantly, my number one goal is to reach the highest level of spirituality I possibly can while I am alive because I know it will pave the way for what lies on the other side.
How does all of this make me feel? Blessed… truly blessed and grateful for everything that I have experienced and everyone with whom I have crossed paths. I truly believe that whatever we want to achieve in life is possible, once we align that objective with God.
Tell me about your experience working in the media industry. What are some of the achievements you have acquired throughout the years?
I started in media in 1992 when I was 18 years old. I was writing copy for radio news and did the early morning shift on 106 FM which was part of CCN group. I later moved to television, CCN TV6, and began reporting for the evening news programme. From there I moved around quite a bit as many media people do and worked for both radio and television.
I am very fortunate to have worked with and been trained by some of the most respected media persons in Trinidad and Tobago. People like, Selma Ayee, Andy Johnson, Wesley Gibbings, Barbara Asoon, Jim Sutherland, Jai Parasram, Afzal Khan, Errol Pilgrim, Julian Rogers, Hansly Adjodha, Gideon Hanoomansingh and Dominic Kalipersad. I was a reporter for both radio and television as well as a news presenter. I also did some behind the scenes work as a news producer for radio and television.
I was part of numerous live broadcasts, many of which were either political or entertainment related. I have so many wonderful memories of the years I spent in media, one of them is definitely anchoring the Panorama newscast on what was at the time Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT). What I remember most of all is how honoured I felt to have been given that opportunity. Panorama was a legacy and to those who believed in me, thank you!
My awards also stand out as a reminder of how very fulfilling media can be. They include the Caribbean Broadcasting Union Merit Award for “best newscast feature – radio”, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) award for “best news story – TV” and the prestigious Luminary of Journalism award. I have interviewed and met celebrities, politicians, heads of state and business tycoons but my most memorable interview is definitely with former US President Bill Clinton. What I also remember is the thrill of “getting the scoop”, in other words a story that no one else was able to. There is a very competitive side of the industry and I was very much a part of it. Then there was the fun side of things, my entertainment reporter days of covering concerts and interviewing rock stars. There was another aspect though, the sense of being able to help someone tell his/her story. Even though I reported on the “hard news”, I thoroughly enjoyed the more human-interest side of things, the stories about the heroes among us, the cancer survivors, the men and women and children as well, who dedicated their lives to a bigger cause.”
What are some of the lessons you have learnt in that type of industry?
I have learnt many invaluable lessons over the years but perhaps the most important one for me coming out of my years in media has to be humility. A person can be at the top of his/her game one day and then in the blink of an eye this can change. The dynamic of media is very much like show business, up one day and down the next, it’s a reality that helps to put things into perspective. I began to recognise my own mortality and not take anyone or anything for granted. You see, there are no guarantees in life, we just never know what tomorrow brings, we could be here one day and gone the next. At the end of the day when you take away the spotlight, the fame and the glamour, all that really matters is living a life of peace, good health, happiness and love.”
What are some other behind-the-scenes projects on which you have worked?
I have been doing volunteer work for most of my adult life. One of the organisations with which I was affiliated in the past was “Project EX-cel”. This was a programme which focussed on drug prevention activities geared towards young people.
Another was “Friends For Life” which promoted aids awareness in T&T. I was also a volunteer with the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross, the Growing Leaders Foundation and the Calabash Consortium. As a communications specialist I was also heavily involved in community-based events and organisations. I also lectured in Public Relations and Broadcast Journalism for several years.
Tell me about your book. What is the name of the book? When was it released? What is it about?
‘The title of my book is Eighteen Lessons From Wayne: Reflections on the teachings of Dr Wayne Dyer. It is a collection of my experiences and insights as it relates to the teachings and philosophies of world-renowned motivational speaker and author, Dr Wayne Dyer. Dr Dyer who has been described as “the father of motivation” has written about 41 books, most of them best sellers and he has impacted my life greatly. Eighteen Lessons was released in February 2014 by Balboa Press which is the self-publishing division of Hay House. It was launched in Ft Lauderdale, Florida in May 2014 at a conference hosted by Hay House.
What inspired you to write about that particular subject?
I wanted to use my life’s experiences to help persons in need of encouragement. It was my way of saying to others, “Keep holding on, don’t you ever give up because life is too precious.” I was fortunate enough to have met Dr Dyer a few years ago and when I decided to write my book, it just seemed natural to make a connection between my personal journey and his teachings.
How do you think the book will benefit its readers?
I consider myself to be a student of self-reliance and transformational living. Both are concepts written and spoken about by Dr Dyer for decades. It teaches us that we are all connected to that universal power that makes all things possible, we don’t need anyone or anything to make it through life except God. I am on a journey of self-realisation and Eighteen Lessons is written from the perspective of someone who is searching. I believe that it will resonate with persons who are on similar paths like myself.
Here is an excerpt: “I will look up at the sky, feel the grass under my feet, hear the birds sing, smell the roses and see unconditional love in a baby’s eyes… all the while remembering there is a thread connecting me and you with everything universal, a thread called God.”
Where can someone get a copy?
Eighteen Lessons From Wayne is sold internationally and is available online to persons in Trinidad and Tobago. There are countless sites offering it for sale including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Balboa Press website. It is in three formats – hardcover, softcover and an e-book.
Concluding, looking forward, how would you assess your ever-more maturing life’s journey thus far?
I heard it said not so long ago that if it’s one prayer you should say every morning, it is “thank you”. I feel very blessed and greet each day with anticipation and thanksgiving. Even those incidents in my past which I once considered to be bad, happened for a reason. Every experience and every person with whom I have ever crossed paths had a role to play. I remember this when challenges come my way, and they do still come! I think about what is written in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”
I have become excited about life, about what the future holds. You see, I truly believe, in fact I KNOW that we can achieve our hearts’ desires. God did not put us on this earth to be mediocre, we all have the ability to shine, to be the best that we can be. We were born to be extraordinary and this is what I tell myself every day. My life has transformed in a fascinating way, and I am now on a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. We all have a calling and I believe mine is to inspire and encourage others, especially women.
August 2015 – Issue 17 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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