By: Dorothy Douglas
As a native of New Orleans whose face brightens up the news at WWL-TV Channel 4 News, Sheba Turk commands attention in a fun and professional way. While wearing all black and a smile, positive energy and laughter are always present when Sheba is in the room. She can be seen delivering the latest happenings of local and national events, or living it up on her show, “The 504.”
Encouraged to stay positive and dream big, the graduate of the University of New Orleans leaped into her career as a news anchor on accident. Sheba drew inspiration from a mentor that brought her under her wing, and she’s been flying ever since. Area Magazine sat down with Sheba to discuss fashion, relaxation, budgeting, and culture.
Dorothy: I know this question is kind of jumping out of the water, but what fuels your passion?
Sheba: That’s a great question. I guess feeling inspired and honestly for me, being happy. That’s at the root of everything. So, it just doesn’t get much deeper than that. I just want to be happy in everything I do.
Dorothy: That’s awesome and simple. Simplicity is bliss and people feel like they have to do a million things. And speaking of simple, I love the way you dress! It’s simple and trendy.
Sheba: Thank you!
Dorothy: Describe your style and your inspiration.
Sheba: I like simplicity. If it catches my eye then I’ll wear it even if it’s not typical. Sometimes my mom says, “I would have never thought you would pick that up.” And I’m like I know, but I liked it. So I guess I’m never afraid to try something new. I’m really flattered that people compliment me on my style because I’m not a person who feels like I can put an outfit together. I can pick a cute dress. I can pick a cute jumpsuit. But my boyfriend usually picks my shoes. I’m the person who literally can have one pair of black pumps and wear with everything every day. I’m always trying different things, and I don’t believe in buying full price clothes because they’re so marked up. It just doesn’t make sense. So if I can find a deal and it’s cute, which you always can, that’s my go-to.
Dorothy: You know that’s good to put that out there because a lot of people have the façade of, “It’s Sheba Turk and she buys this.” It’s great to know that you dress inexpensively.
Sheba: Right! I tell young women that on purpose, especially those who look up to me. I am quick to say “you like what I have on, well it was fifteen dollars! Or I’ll say “you see this dress that you’re admiring that you’re going to go spend two hundred dollars to imitate, it was twenty dollars.” I don’t believe in spending money on things that really have no value. I have a budget, and I have other things I want to spend my money on besides clothing.
Dorothy: That brings me to my next question. Do you see yourself as a role model?
Sheba: You know, I would never choose to be a role model because that’s so presumptuous to be like “I’m a role model and I’m perfect.” So, why put yourself in this box because then everything you do, you have to say I can’t do it because I’m a role model. I have found myself in a position where young girls do say “I look up to you.” I always want to do things that I’m proud of. And I tell them the same thing. Don’t try to do things because you think somebody else is going to go “Oh my God that’s so great.” Do it because you are proud to do it. So if I want to wear an outfit that I feel like is not role model material, I don’t want to have to say “I can’t wear that because little girls are looking at me,” or “I can’t wear short shorts today.” I AM SHEBA, AND I LIKE TO WEAR SHORT SHORTS! Anyway, no I wouldn’t call myself a role model, but I am aware that young girls look up to me.
Dorothy: Do you feel that you are paving the way for youth? If so, how?
Sheba: Now, I take that very seriously. It’s one of the things you don’t think about coming into this business. I never intended on being on TV. I wanted to be a writer, but then life happens and opportunities knock. Eventually, I accepted that being on TV is where my trajectory was going. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to be on TV or that I’d do something where so many eyes were on me. So to have this job where I know young girls directly say “I’m going to do this,” or “I know I can because you’re doing it,” means so much. I’m just living my life and struggling through the day like everyone else! But to be an inspiration to others, I do take that very seriously. When I really think of everything I’m doing like my blog, the book I’m writing, and more, I think of these young girls who email me and reach out to me.
Dorothy: I admire that. So, how does Sheba face adversity?
Sheba: I keep it moving and I learned that from my family. Growing up my mom always taught me that there is no option to just stop unless you literally combust and die. You keep moving forward. So, I’m really big on being positive. I am naturally like everything is going to be great kind of person because maybe I like to live in my fairytale world. What’s the point of worrying and feeling like things aren’t going to be great? They’re going to turn out how they’re going to turn out anyway. So, I might as well enjoy myself because if the world is going to crumble tomorrow, it’s going to crumble tomorrow.
Dorothy: Exactly! You can’t fixate yourself on all the things going on! How do you relax? What’s some of your favorite things to do?
Sheba: Oh! I’ve been struggling with relaxing lately. Honestly, I have so much going on. It’s one of the first times in my life I feel like I cannot relax! I feel like I have so much to do and time is moving so fast. However, I try to relax just doing simple stuff like playing with my dog and reading. I’m working more because then I feel like I’ve got more done. What I’m doing is completely failing at relaxing. Sometimes I spend time with my boyfriend. It’s really helpful to have loving people in your life who are like ,“Hey let’s do this.” It’s a good distraction. A positive distraction.
Dorothy: I got you! You do need some downtime though. We all need downtime! I’m switching from watching you on YouTube, to watching you on “The 504,” then to Channel 4 News- I was like she doesn’t stop!
Sheba: At some point I do, and collapse. I am on full speed right now because at some point in life, I do plan on slowing down. I’m not one of those people who wants to be a workaholic my entire life. Full speed now, get to a certain point, and then I can slow down.
Dorothy: I’ve seen many episodes of “The 504.” I really love it! You have a very fun personality, but it’s professional. Tell me about your integrity and maintaining that while you do all these things.
Sheba: Well, number one, I am a news anchor and credibility is everything. So if I lose that, then I lose my job. You know some people have lost their credibility and still have their jobs, but then you lose respectability. So, my number one thing is always being professional. I am a fun person (I would like to think). I tell my producer all the time that I am so hilarious when I’m inappropriate. People don’t even know how funny I am, but it’s inappropriate but I can’t tell those jokes because they’re not reflective of my news character. So it’s just always about being in line with your professional self while still being yourself, which you have to find the line nowadays with social media.
Dorothy: I find that always shines through on “The 504” because it’s at night. It’s laid back. You have a variety of different guest and different topics. But you’re still able to reflect a question and get a laugh!
Sheba: It’s definitely less censored, but really, everything is censored. You just can’t put it all out there.
Dorothy: Right and speaking of that, what’s your most motivational interview thus far if you can name one?
Sheba: That’s a hard one because I look for inspiration. Now I interviewed Terrylyn Dorsey, the second line dancer who went viral. Her story was super cool. She’s this 21-year-old young lady. She dropped out of school because she felt like she didn’t really need it. She was just second lining because that’s what she liked to do for fun. She thought people were just going to say good job. When she went viral, it changed her mindset. Now she wants to take second lining and turn it into a business. Now she sees she can profit from it. That was pretty inspiring. She even told me to check on her and to keep up with her.
Dorothy: That’s awesome! So you were born and raised in New Orleans?
Sheba: I was.
Sheba: Our culture is everything! But you know what- there is so much to learn about our culture. You really don’t know most of it until you are grown. For example, somebody told me “Red Bean Monday.” I was like what is that? We had red beans in our house Monday, Tuesday, sometimes Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… I had no idea about “Red Bean Monday” until recently. So I think our culture is so much more amazing when you grow up here. I find that the people who are moving in now will tell me more things about New Orleans that I didn’t know about. Just because I lived here doesn’t mean I know it all. You kind of take it all for granted, but I know it’s in my blood. It’s in everything I do. I say zink instead of sink, and I never will stop. It’s just some parts of it that will ruin you for life in the best way. I just told the producers don’t ever give me a breaking news story about a sink because it’s a zink, and that’s just what it’s going to be. Put somebody else on it.
Dorothy: I find from the viewer’s eye that most of the people who come on the show from the local area seem relaxed, and they enjoy the show. Does that make them more comfortable with you because you are from here?
Sheba: I think so, but a lot of times, they don’t think I’m from here until I tell them I’m from here and they are cool with it. The biggest compliment is when those guests tell me that I helped them relax and feel comfortable. I’m like good because that’s what I’m paid to do. If I can’t bring out your best self and make you feel comfortable so that you can be the best you are on TV, then why am I here? We’re just two people sitting next to each other struggling. Know what I mean? My job is to make people feel comfortable and relate to them. Do I find it easier because of my personality is very New Orleans? I’m outgoing, crazy, fun, and down to earth… YES, I DO!
Dorothy: Your relationship with your co-workers at Channel 4 seems like it is more family-oriented. What do you enjoy most about working at Channel 4?
Sheba: It is more like family than just work. We spend four and a half hours together every morning so whether or not we want to get to know each other, you don’t really have a choice. They’re all great people, and we have a lot of fun together. It’s not like in a traditional job while you can say I’m going to sit at my desk, and I’m not talking to them. We don’t get that option. So if we’re mad at someone today then everyone will find out on TV. And our viewers actually appreciate that. I like things natural and organic. So there is not space to say, “I’m so annoyed” or “You get on my nerves.” I appreciate that we get to operate like a family. We love each other. We fight each other. We make up. At the end of the day, we still work like a team.
Dorothy: How did your upbringing influence your career? What pointed you in that direction that of becoming a writer?
Sheba: That is filled with so many twist and turns. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. For the longest, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. After that, I wanted to make collages which I don’t even think is a career. But I decided to go to college and decided to be a neonatologist because I like babies and wanted to work with preemies. I was pre-med and lost. I didn’t really want to do that. I was just saying I wanted to do it because people keep asking me what I want to be. So my friend was taking a journalism class, and it was one of the only classes still available. I took the class, liked it and did well. I left New York University because I ran out of money. I came home and stayed out of school for a semester. Then I went to the University of New Orleans where I picked up English as a major because journalism wasn’t an option. I was still thinking I was going to be a newspaper writer. Then, I had an amazing mentor, Kim Bondy, who had been a vice president at CNN. Another mentor, Soledad O’Brien, paid for me to finish college through Powerful Foundation, and here I am today.