By Bianca Silva
Sandy Laborde works as an on-air presenter and consultant in the hospitality industry. She has been making major moves recently in the television industry. Her upcoming show, POV on AFRO, has been recently picked up by Comcast and will be distributed beginning in January 2019.
Laborde spoke to The Haitian Times on what it’s like to work as both a television presenter and consultant in addition to wearing her Haitian heritage of her sleeve.
Congratulations on the launch of AFRO on Comcast. Why do think it was important for your show to get picked up by a major corporation?
Thank you very much! The show that I’ll be co-hosting is called POV or Point of View. It includes a diverse panel of women sharing their opinions on current affairs, globally and locally. It’s important for mainstream television viewers to have access to content like this because they deserve to see themselves being represented. They also deserve to hear themselves be represented on issues that resonate with them. I believe that POV being broadcasted to a larger audience gives an additional demographic of viewers the chance to join the discussion.
You also have experience working in the tourism and hospitality industry in addition to working as a business consultant. How has that experience helped you in your current role as an on-air presenter?
You guys have done your research and I love it! Tourism and hospitality taught me the importance of caring about a person’s experience. Becoming a consultant was my way of sharing all the knowledge I obtained. Interestingly enough, I am always aware of how I communicate my message on set and how it’s being received. I view our dialogue as the viewer subscribing to an experience. Many people now know of Haiti but few may understand what it means to be Haitian. That’s where communicating my message effectively can contribute to the viewers experience. How I organize my words may lead you to at least understand. Spending over ten years caring about another person’s experience has a lot to do with how I present information for sure.
What inspired you to make the transition from consultant to working in television?
I’m still in consulting. After working with a Caribbean airline up until earlier this year (in a managerial and touristic capacity), I realized there were definitely more opportunities out there. Following that I joined the necessary organizations and training to assist vacation property owners in the Caribbean with their businesses. So I’m juggling both television and consulting, but it all feels like fun more than work. Working with a large population of Haitians in the service industry inspired me to become a voice in our community. At the time I wasn’t sure which medium exactly would be the platform to help me become that voice. Haitians make up a large portion of the hospitality workforce in Florida and yet they’re misunderstood and taken for granted. They could be janitors by day but at the same time they’re pastors by night or local entertainment celebrities during the weekend. I knew that because of their responsibilities they remained humble at work and tolerated environments that may not be enjoyable. I felt everyone needed to know how beautiful, loyal, talented, and loving Haitian people are when you look past their circumstances. That’s why I’m forever grateful to the Afro family for welcoming me and giving me a platform to share my voice.
You once served as President of the Greater Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce. How has your Haitian heritage factor in the work that you produce?
Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I wear my heritage on my sleeve. It was an honor to reactivate the Haitian Chamber of Commerce in the Central Florida region. My parents were farmers when I was a child so I understand the importance of growing a product. I understand seasons and how it may impact your business. Haitians are natural entrepreneurs and I see the same in so many other people from different countries. You can hear a lot of this in the language I use on the show. I speak of my heritage and so many cultures around the globe that come from a rural setting. I speak of entrepreneurship and reinventing yourself. Not to mention the stories I share from my personal life takes you through so many different seasons.
In your own words, what does it take to become successful in both television and business?
From my experience, both require consistency and the will to always continue no matter what. At times they require you to see the opportunity for success in setbacks. They both require you to be clear in defining who you are and being okay with it. It’s also going to take you learning how to nurture relationships. I know it’s cliche but you have to have a plan. Map out where you see yourself in the future, study those who have already arrived where you’re trying to go. Invest in yourself by reading, training, and constantly developing your skills. Make it a priority to show up and let God handle the rest.