Wednesday, August 26

Alan Carter and Farah Nasser: Part 2 Behind-the-Scenes with the Global News Hour Toronto Team

I recently went behind the scenes at Global News Hour Toronto with the new anchor team of Alan Carter and Farah Nasser, and I had such a great chat with them that I couldn't even fit it all in one blog post! Here, the anchors get personal about parenting, social media negativity, and if they think women on television are judged more harshly than men.







(Update: Farah began her leave of absence from the show earlier than expected - see video. She will continue to work behind-the-scenes and return in the new year.)

What are the pros and cons of the Global News Hour schedule when you have kids at home?

Alan: The major downside is that we’re on the air between 5:30 and 6:30, so that’s a challenge as any parent would know, because I don’t normally get to eat with my kids {Alan's daughter Ava is nine, son Wynn is seven}. Sometimes we push their dinner way back and I’ll have dinner with them at 7:30 and then send them to bed! There are things you can’t do – it’s tough for me to get to early soccer games and things like that, but parents work all kinds of schedules and I certainly wouldn’t single myself out as someone who has a really challenging schedule. Other people have a lot worse. I do get some flexibility in the mornings and get the chance to take them to school, so I try to cherish that as my time with them, but trying to spend quality time with kids while getting them up and out the door to school is not the easiest thing! I just try to focus on the times I can be with them.

Farah: Sometimes I see my son for an hour after work and then have to put him to bed but I think that’s very typical in the city. By the time you get home after driving in rush hour, when you have a small child it’s hard to spend time with them, but I’m pushing his bedtime now with this show. He’s watching me on TV now, but he’s not crazy about it because he gets confused when we go to weather and I disappear, so we’re trying to get him used to that! Before I was on during the day so he would never see me on screen. Just being a working mom, and having everything organized – like every working mom – is a challenge.



Alan with his kids


So your son Kian is two and a half. What’s he into these days?

Farah: Oh, superheroes! Batman, Superman. Wonder Woman - he calls her Ruby for some reason - and airplanes. He’s at that age where he’s just such a funny storyteller, he makes up stories about random things like how he took an airplane to Mississauga the other day, stories about crocodiles biting him and all that kind of stuff. 

When you were expecting Kian you were actually pregnant with twins. Are you comfortable speaking about that? {Note to readers: I had checked this with the publicist first. I would never spring a question like this on someone.}

Farah: Yes, with my first pregnancy I was pregnant with twins. I lost my other son at 24 weeks and I had to carry him because it was twins, so I couldn’t deliver him, so I carried him to 32 weeks when my son was born. I was hoping to carry further and have my son at term but that didn’t work out, so he was born at 32 weeks and I had a bunch of complications from that. I needed blood transfusions, I was in the ICU, I almost lost my own life. It’s so complicated when you’re carrying a life and a death in your own body. So I had to deliver, and then we had a funeral. It was a very difficult time in my life. I thought after that that I might not want to go through this again, but I didn’t want pregnancy and childbirth to be that memory. As a woman, one of the things for me anyway was that I wanted to have a kid, even more than I wanted to get married, I really wanted to have a child, and now I want to give my son a sibling.



Farah with her son and husband


Is he excited about the baby?

Farah: Oh my God, he’s so excited about his baby sister. Though he also thinks there’s a baby in his tummy, so that’s funny. He puts his little doll in front of his tummy sometimes, and asks my husband if he’s having a baby too, and he says ‘No, I just had a big lunch!’ He’s really excited. I don’t think he fully gets it yet.

I read that back in your 20s you were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. How are things with that now?

Farah: Things are good. I had a flare-up before I got pregnant but generally things are good. I’ve been pretty much in remission. But that was tough, I had to take about six months off work in the prime of my career, the beginning of my career, but so far so good.





Have either of you had to deal with social media negativity, Twitter trolls, that sort of thing?

Alan: We’re both pretty active on social media. I’ve long been active in my other role as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, so much of my content is very political which raises the ire of many people, as objective as I am, and I try to be very objective on Twitter. The Twitter trolls, I find, tend not to be personal. It’s more political. I engage to a point until you realize there’s no sense. I might respond to the first message, but when they just come back with more hysteria, that’s it.

Farah: There are going to be some people who don’t like your work, that’s just how it is, not everyone is going to be able to connect, and that’s fine. When I get it, I just leave it alone. You take the compliments, you take the constructive criticism. I love feedback when it’s relevant, because that’s how you get better. I got a recent Facebook comment about being pregnant on air, ‘You just started this job and now you’re pregnant! Jeez!’, but you just have to say people are going to have their opinion, they don’t know the backstory.

And you don’t let it bother you?

Farah: No, you can’t. If you do, for me anyway, it could really affect my work. I have to put up a thick skin and say ‘This is just somebody’s opinion, what one person thinks’, and that’s it.




Literally rubbing shoulders with the new anchors


I think the message out there in the public is that women on television are judged more harshly on their appearance than men, and perhaps are told how to look while the men have it easier. I’m curious to know if either of you has ever been told by higher-ups to change your appearance in any way, or been given negative feedback?

Farah: No, I don’t think that’s happened to me. Oh, I had one boss, and I kept my hair curly once and he told me not to do that again, but that was somewhere else years ago.

Alan: I think at the beginning of my career I got a lot of that but probably deservedly so, because I was in my early 20s at the time and didn’t know how to dress, but I haven't had any for a long time. I think you’re absolutely right though, because for me, how tough is it to pick out a jacket, a shirt and a tie? You’ve got to work to screw that up. Every once in a while someone will tweet at me, ‘Seriously dude, you wore a checked shirt, striped tie and polka dot square!’

Farah: Yes, it’s more the public telling us!

Alan: Or my dad. He’ll say ‘What is with your hair?’ He’s my greatest fan and my harshest critic.

Farah: It’s so true! It’s family members! My aunts will write in, or my mom, and tell me something about my lipstick, or that a colour washes me out.

*****

They both look great to me (in person, as well as on-screen) and more importantly, they are doing a fantastic job as the new anchors of Global News Hour Toronto (weekdays from 5:30-6:30).

Thanks again to Alan, Farah and the Global team for inviting me behind-the-scenes, and I wish Farah good health and all the best with her baby-to-be now that she is on leave.




Here's a parting shot of the reporters-in-training at my house - they love when I bring home swag!


1 comments:

Sally said...

This was an amazing interview.
I really appreciated the perspective of a working father. We forget that Daddy wants to be home for supper and take kids to soccer etc and be part of the bedtime routine. I also appreciated that men get criticized for their appearance! WOW, I must say I was a bit surprised that Alan had faced more comments about his appearance than Farah. Perhaps we women are biased in our defensiveness?

Thank you to Farah for sharing the sad story of her infant loss. My deepest condolences to her and her family. It is very brave of her to speak openly about this, as it does help other families who have suffered the same. And brave to have another pregnancy, congratulations to her and best wishes on a safe delivery.

Great post, not what I expected to read when I clicked on the link today!