Making it big in the US

Published:

We speak to two Aberdonians who have achieved the American dream

Name: Isla Traquair
Age: 35
Location: Los Angeles


CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Well I don’t have a straightforward job title because I wear a few hats. I have my own company and I create concepts for TV shows, develop them, produce and host. I don’t exclusively work on just my ideas but it’s a good place to start. I only work on things I am really passionate about and I believe have purpose.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE AS A CHILD?

A ballet dancer. I suffered a few accidents growing up including being hit by a car, so I don’t think I would have been physically able to dance professionally.

My brain and mouth ruled out any plans for a physical career.  I think the fact “chatter box” was written on a few report cards for school and dance classes was a clear indicator that I was destined to do something involving story telling which is the term I think best describes what I do. Whether it is writing a report for a newspaper or being a TV correspondent/presenter, producing, interviewing, I am telling a story.

WHAT WERE YOUR MAIN CAREER STEPPING STONES?

There have been a few. I started in journalism very young. I worked one day a week at a press agency while I was still at school and then I did my formal training with Aberdeen Journals which led to me working firstly at the Herald & Post and then the Press and Journal.

Isla Traquair

I worked as a print journalist for about five years and then got offered a job with STV (then Grampian TV). It seemed like a natural progression to move into TV even though it wasn’t a goal. I liked the challenge of television and the immediacy of delivering news. It’s a real craft to use pictures to tell a story.

What was wonderful about working for STV was I was able to take time out of news and write and produce half hour factual shows. I worked on all three series of Unsolved which was one of the most successful series they ever made and has actually resulted in multiple convictions for previously unsolved murders.

The next jump was moving to London and working at ITN for ITV news. I had been offered work in London previously but I was married and rooted in the north-east so it wasn’t an option but then after my marriage break up I moved to London and threw myself into work. I loved doing national news and never knowing whether I’d be going home that night or if I’d be sent on assignment that would take me away.

A couple of years after moving to London, I switched channel to Five News where I ended up anchoring the 7pm news programme. I had presented news since I was 21 but I always worked on the road as well so this was a change for me to be in the studio more.

I still did a piece for the news each night but it was usually an interview with a band or actor because we could predict timings so I’d get back to the studio in time.

The next step was time out. A good friend of mine died and I just needed some time not working. I’d had my foot on the gas since my mid-teens and I was approaching 30 and hadn’t really had any time for me.

This period of travelling resulted in me moving to Vancouver where I successfully pitched an idea for a health investigation show which was commissioned by the Oprah Winfrey Network. I hosted that show
as well.

WHAT HAS YOUR CAREER STEPPING STONES BEEN SINCE MOVING TO THE US?

The main thing was to get out there and meet production companies and team up with established and trusted names.

It’s very hard to turn up in a country where no one knows you or your history so it’s essential to partner.

I would always want to partner regardless because my work is always a team effort and it’s inspiring to work with other creatives. I am very lucky to be working with some amazing award-winning people and I’m excited about what is to come.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

So much. I love creating. I love being part of a team. I love seeing an idea I have in the middle of the night become something real that has impact.

Isla Traquair

I take it very seriously my responsibility to make shows which have the power to create change. My big project I’m working on right now is all about inspiring change.

A couple of days after the Paris and Beirut attacks I was at a dinner with important TV content makers and we all discussed the fact that we have the power to make TV shows which can make this world a better place by entertaining, educating and most importantly inspiring people to be the change.

I feel so privileged and blessed to do what I do. It’s challenging at times because things often take longer to get off the ground and some never do but I’ve got to keep trying and right now I am in a very good position.

Name: Hannah Mackenzie

Age: 25

Location: McAllen, Texas
Job: Reporter and lead anchor for the 9pm newscast for the FOX affiliate located in McAllen, Texas.


WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE AS A CHILD?


As a child, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, but with journalism in my blood, I figured I would be doing something in that field. My Granddad, Norman Adams, was an author, both my uncles are journalists, and my mum worked in television at Grampian. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I realised I wanted to be a news reporter/anchor.

Hannah Mackenzie


WHAT WERE YOUR MAIN CAREER STEPPING STONES?

For my career stepping stones, everything happened pretty quickly. I attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a journalism degree in May 2013.

After graduation, I applied to many news stations across Texas. Three months into my job search, I got a call from my current station in McAllen, asking if I would like to come for an interview.

The very next day after my interview, the news director called me and offered me the job. The job at the time was for a host position on the FOX 2 morning show, Good Day Valley.

I anchored, reported and produced for Good Day Valley for about a year before being promoted to my current position, lead anchor/reporter of our nightly newscast, FOX 2 News at 9. I have been with the station for just over two years now.


DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO LIVE ABROAD?

I did not always want to live abroad, I was born in Aberdeen, and didn’t think I’d ever be living elsewhere. The reason my family moved to Texas was due to my dad’s job, he works in the oil industry.

My mum, dad and me moved to Houston, Texas, when I was eight years old. They still reside in Houston, while I’m about five and a half hours away in McAllen. We still have family and friends in Scotland that we keep in touch with and visit.

Hannah Mackenzie


WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I love everything about my job. It is my dream job. My goal now is to jump to a higher market. I would love to move closer to my parents, and work in Houston, or even Dallas. Just because this is my dream job, doesn’t mean that it’s a cakewalk.

Every day I see the worst in people. Horrible crimes and unimaginable situations but I also get to see the best. And that’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I get to find remarkable stories and meet amazing people, and I get to tell those stories, and share them with others. It’s a privilege and a responsibility that I take great pride in.

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