Latinx Heritage Month: A Q&A with Liz Hernandez
Occupation: creator of Wordaful and former radio host and entertainment reporter for Access Hollywood, E! News and MTV
Location: Los Angeles
First off, how are you?
Given the state of the world, I’m managing to keep my spirits up. I’m definitely ready for election day to get here!
Can you talk a bit about your background –– where you grew up, and any influences that may have shaped your decision to be a journalist.
I’m Mexican-American and I grew up in Riverside, California. From a young age, I loved music. When I liked a song, I recorded it and wrote out the lyrics. I knew if I had each line memorized then I could add emotion when I sang or rapped along.
Growing up with three older sisters exposed me to so many different musicians. I remember feeling so proud when I memorized the lyrics to “I Need Love” by LL Cool J and “You be Illin” by Run DMC. Music has always influenced me. I believe that’s what led me to radio which then led me to television.
Before you moved to television, you dominated the airwaves with Power 106 FM–– can you talk about that leap, and transition in your career?
Transitioning from radio to television felt very natural for me. Throughout my radio career, TV opportunities kept presenting themselves and I tried my best to balance both. At one point, I was working at MTV, Power 106 FM and on syndicated radio across the country. But after 10 years on the air, I was ready to grow and challenge myself so I moved into television full-time.
Any standout memories and experiences as a host in Los Angeles?
My entire time at Power 106 FM was a wild experience. “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” will always be my first love. It was a special time in radio because social media and streaming hadn’t taken over yet. Almost every week a major music artist stopped by and we had fun with them on air. Our audience was deeply engaged and when listeners called in, the show really came to life.
I loved it when we invited the artist to record a music video in the studio with us. We took a page from MTV’s Making the Video and did Big Boy’s Neighborhood, Remaking the Video. Anytime I want to take a trip down memory lane and have a good laugh, I watch one online.
Creating space and fostering community:
What does an ‘influencer’ mean to you?
Today it’s a popular term for someone with a wide following on social media. For me, the word influencer carries more value when I define it as someone who has the power to influence their generation in a positive way.
Any advice to young women who are interested in pursuing a path in radio, or broadcast television?
I would get clear on your what, why and how. What do you truly want to do? Why? Knowing the reason behind your “why” is important. How do you plan on achieving your goals? Have a plan. Most importantly, be yourself. Use your authentic voice to tell your stories. If you’re brave enough to be yourself, you’ll cut through the noise.
Celebrating Latinx/ Hispanic Heritage Month (everyday) –– how can we support or invest in Latinx communities and further opportunities, as well as amplify voices and profile stories that might be overlooked?
Though my company WORDAFUL, I support my community by giving them a voice. I remind them that it always starts on the inside with their own self-love and self-approval. I like to use my social media platform to showcase other Latina entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Can you talk about Wordaful –– how it started and the meaning behind the message, purpose and intention.
WORDAFUL was inspired by a need for connection and community. The idea was to create a new form of storytelling that encourages and connects us to the power of our words. We can create new realities for ourselves by changing our internal and external dialogue.
When I started WORDAFUL, my mom had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As she began to lose her speech, I began to truly understand the gift of communication. At times I didn’t know if I would ever hear her say “I love you” again. We can take our ability to communicate for granted and become careless with how we use our words. When my mom lost her ability to speak, I wanted to be responsible with mine.
Please name a few words that describe you best
Caring. Grateful. Passionate.
Cultural and technological shift:
How have you been navigating –– and utilizing –– your platform during this unique yet challenging time?
I always bring it back to the message of self-love and compassion. We can only give another human being what we offer to ourselves.
Someone or something that has made a lasting impression on you?
I feel fortunate that I’ve surrounded myself with amazing women who make me dig deeper when it comes to self-acceptance. My mentor, book editor, and friend, Andrea Cagan, always encourages me to be more compassionate with myself when I’m having a tough day. She reminds me that healing doesn't happen in a straight line. Each time we speak, her words leave a lasting impression on me.
Favorite movies of all time?
I love the movies Good Will Hunting and Dirty Dancing. And pretty much any film starring Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks.
Music or artist that really moves you?
This is a tough question because it changes with my moods. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Sabrina Claudio, Rosalía and Alina Baraz.
What are you most proud of in life?
I’m proud of the company I’ve built that supports and encourages others to feel good about themselves. A great deal of my happiness comes from making my parents feel proud. My mother isn’t here anymore, but when she was beginning her battle with Alzheimers, she couldn’t keep track of very much. But she always remembered to ask me to turn the TV on so she could watch my show. Everything I do is about making my parents proud of the woman I’ve become.