How Award-Winning Writer Tammy Reese Breaks Down Mental Health Stigma

Award-winning writer Tammy Reese’s dedication to shattering mental health stigma in entertainment and journalism is commendable. Her journey is inspiring, proving that pursuing a successful career while prioritizing mental well-being is possible. Tammy is also the creator of the award-winning PSA on suicide prevention titled “Hear My Call.” Through her work, she challenges stereotypes, humanizes mental health struggles, and encourages open conversation. In short, her impact is undeniable.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Tammy and ask her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

Mandi: Hi Tammy, Thank you for How did you manage to build a remarkable resumé after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression?

Tammy: I’ve decided to turn my pain into purpose. I’ve chosen not to give up on my goals and I’ve embraced my family and tribe’s love and support. I also do not let the diagnosis take over my life. I approach my journalism work with professionalism, quality, care, and mindfulness, but I first make sure I am mentally prepared to execute each task. 

I’ve always been passionate about storytelling. Drawing from my personal experiences with mental health, I infuse journalism with authenticity and vulnerability, allowing the person sharing to follow this approach too. Through storytelling, I connect with my readers and viewers, humanizing the interviewee and inspiring others to share their stories.

M: As a beloved journalist, you’re truly breaking down the mental health stigma in entertainment journalism. What challenges did you experience along the way?

Tammy: Sometimes, my anxiety flares up on a red carpet or before a Zoom interview. The methods I have learned allow me not to display any sign of fear, even though I may feel my heart pounding. I never let anyone see me sweat. Also, I have learned to have grace with myself as a human being, as a woman, as a media professional, as a businesswoman, and even as a mother. I take deep breaths and remember why I wanted the opportunity and this career. I just breathe in and out, be myself, and do what I love. 

Overall, I have a remarkable resume that wasn’t easy to obtain. Being a black woman, it’s challenging to get on elite, A-list red carpets or in exclusive industry events. I am one example of breaking barriers, ending stereotypes, and humanizing the experiences of those with mental health issues, especially in the media industry. Yes, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but that doesn’t define me. If I let these define me, I would not have had the chance to interview Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winners.

As I continue to navigate the industry’s challenges while prioritizing my mental well-being, I want to keep being a role model for others with mental health issues. We are neither depressed every day nor crazy. I can make a positive impact by addressing mental health stigma in entertainment journalism.

M: What does self-care look like for you?

Tammy: Self-care for me is time with my family and friends. Self-care is nature visits, listening to music, traveling, and creating and executing passion projects.

M: How do you plan to continue amplifying the conversation around mental health?

Tammy: I plan to keep bringing attention to important issues through articles, interviews, and reports. By utilizing my online platforms, I plan to empower others not to be afraid and make sure those who follow my career understand that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes.

M: What are some of your most memorable career moments so far?

Tammy: There are too many to count, so I will share just a few. Interviewing Angela Bassett, Leon, Mona Scott Young, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Porter, Sharon Stone, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Ryan Coogler, and Courtney Kemp to name a few, just hit differently. Covering events for AMC, WeTV, Academy Awards, Tribeca and Sundance Film Festivals, and NJ Horror Con has genuinely changed my career and given me so much faith in myself.

Everything I’ve accomplished, no matter how big or small, has been memorable. As a black woman from the south side of Syracuse, I am in awe of my entire career. I am truly humbly grateful. 

M: What advice do you have for embracing your well-being and advocating for societal change?

Tammy: In an online-driven and ever-changing world, I would encourage everyone to define their own look, mind, soul, heart, success, and career. Everyone is different. Everyone is not meant to act or think the same, and everyone does not have the same goals, destiny, and path. So, do not let anyone dictate your life. Your mental health matters and your dreams matter. There are many writers and journalists in the world, but no one can write your story better than you. Be awesome!

M: Any final thoughts?

Tammy: Yes. I want to build a more inclusive and supportive industry through my work. By shining a light on mental health issues, I encourage the entertainment world to take a more compassionate approach. I strive to promote the importance of mental health resources, support systems, and fair treatment within the industry. To anyone aspiring to be a journalist, please reach out to me. I’d be happy to coach you on your path to media greatness.

Follow Tammy on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured image via author


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