“My dad was what you’d call a news junkie. He was always watching the Spanish news, and reading the newspaper, and he cared a lot about it. But growing up, I never considered journalism as a career—I thought I wanted to be an attorney for the longest time. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college, actually, when someone suggested I audition for the student newscast that it all clicked. I felt really comfortable in front of the camera and enjoyed writing, and realized that it might be more fulfilling for me. And luckily I was at Kent State in Ohio, which has a really good, hands-on journalism program. I switched my major to journalism, and started pursuing that path instead.
The news industry is very competitive, and so much of it is out of your hands. You have four stations in a market and four morning newscasts, and especially in desirable cities turnover is not good, because people stay a long time. My first job was in Little Rock, and thank God I went because that’s where I met my husband. He was the weekend sports anchor. I was in Little Rock for two years as a general assignment reporter, and then I got a job in DC. After that I took an offer in Philly, and was there for four and a half years. I started out as a general assignment reporter, and then for the last year, I was the 4PM anchor. My husband and I did long-distance for four and a half years, seeing each other on the weekends, and then we reunited in DC December of last year. My husband and I are actually direct competitors here. [Laughs]
At my current job I work 5AM to 1:30PM. I wake up at 4 in the morning, anchor for five hours straight, then help write stories and do Zoom interviews for another two and a half hours. FOX 5 DC covers DC, Virginia, and Maryland, and there’s a lot of local news. At my last station, Action News, there wasn’t a lot of time for chitchat or banter. Here, it’s a lot of longer interviews and opportunities to really hold people’s feet to the fire, which I’ve enjoyed. Sometimes a 15 or 20 second sound bite just can’t give enough of the story.
Journalists are used to chopping stories down [because of time constraints]. Sometimes choosing what parts of great content to cut down feels like cutting off your limbs. But when I got on Tiktok, it was easy! I realized that you need to make your point as quickly as possible, and deliver the punchline without dragging it on. Tiktok is just a fun thing for me. Like, my brother would make fun of my anchor voice all the time—the vast majority of anchors [when they first start out in the industry] just mimic what they heard growing up, consciously or not, to sound more authoritative. And I thought it would be funny to do a video with my husband where we were using our anchor voices to talk about dinner in the kitchen, then code switching, like, ‘Nah, forreal though, what you tryin’ to eat?’ [Laughs] I’m so used to posting when inspiration strikes, and I might go dark for like three weeks. I don’t make money off of Tiktok, because [journalists] aren’t allowed to, but I wouldn’t want to [make it my sole source of income]. I think what makes it fun is that I can do it whenever I want.
A misconception a lot of people have is that anchors get hair and makeup—I get into hair and makeup at five in the morning, and I do it all myself. I remember once I was on the phone with an agent [at my first job in Little Rock] and she was like, ‘We’re going to get you to a big city, and we’re going to work on your makeup!’ When we hung up, I was like, ‘Wait, what’s that supposed to mean?!’ But I was looking a little crazy. Eventually I learned from watching Makeupshayla, Jackie Aina, and Eman.
I start out with Fenty’s Mattifying Primer. It is by far the best thing I’ve used, period, for HD, bright lights, and five hours of TV. Then, I put on Becca Ultimate Coverage 24-Hour Foundation in Maple. They went out of business, so I stocked up. But I also have Smashbox’s 24 Hour Studio Finish Foundation, which is good too. I set it with Sephora’s Matte Perfection Powder Foundation. Then, I do my brows. My eyebrows are microbladed, but I fill them in with a Benefit Cosmetics brow pencil to give them a little more dimension. For microblading, I go to Dollistic in McLean, Virginia about once a year. I’m long overdue. I use the NYX Cosmetics Eyeshadow Base with my go-to eyeshadow palette, the Tarte Cosmetics Tartelette Toasted. It’s good for anybody, but really good if you have a deeper skin tone.
After I do my eyeshadow, I go back in with Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Biscuit under my eyes. It is really creamy and doesn’t crease—it’s my ride or die. I apply that with a Beautyblender, and set it with Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Then I line my eyes with the Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Liner in True Black Matte, and add Ardell Wispies False Eyelashes, which I’ve found to be the best for cameras. They look like you just have long, naturally voluminous lashes. I have them on now. I reuse them maybe three or four times each. Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara goes on top of that, just to blend my natural lashes with the false eyelashes.
A misconception a lot of people have is that anchors get hair and makeup—I get into hair and makeup at five in the morning, and I do it all myself.
I contour with Fenty powder bronzer and use Buxom’s Wanderlust Primer Infused Blush in Mykonos. It’s a really pretty light pink. I used to use deeper blush colors, and I realized it kind of aged me. All of my lip colors are matte, and pretty much all of them are from Dose of Colors. If there’s one recommendation I would make, it's that lipstick should be long-wearing almost to a fault. Merlot is my favorite shade. Every time I wear it, without fail, people ask me about it. Then, I spray it down with Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. Again, the overall goal is to make it last as long as possible without too much shine. I don’t touch up! It’s funny—I really should have done my own makeup for my wedding, but at the time I wasn’t confident that what worked for photography was the same for TV. Now, even when they send a makeup artist at work, I’m doing my own makeup.
The best makeup removing cleanser I have ever used—and I’ve used Chanel, all that stuff—is the Good Molecules Instant Cleansing Balm. I wear a lot of makeup that’s really hard to remove, and this melts it all away. If I’m really desperate I’ll use the makeup remover wipes from Honest Beauty, but that’s not often. I don’t really struggle with acne, but on the rare occasions I do break out, I always get hyperpigmentation. Urban Skin Rx has been a godsend. They don’t pay me, I just want to tell the world. I kept on hearing about their products, and finally got the whole hyperpigmentation line. I decided I was going to stick to it for about three months before I said a word, and it’s been amazing. I use their Even Tone Cleansing Bar after my cleansing balm. From there I use the Paula’s Choice Skin-Balancing Pore Reducing Toner with niacinamide, or the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel. It gives me baby skin. M-61 has really good peel pads too, but they’re not daily ones. I use Darphin’s Hydraskin Light All-Day Skin Hydrating Cream Gel, which I’ve been using for years, and then I might put an oil on to seal in the moisture.
In the morning, the main difference is that I use Tatcha’s Deep Cleanse instead of the Urban Skin Rx, and I also use Black Girl Sunscreen. I have little sun spots, so I’ve had to get on top of that. The good thing about this one is that it doesn’t pill under my primer and foundation. I’d love to get a chemical peel, but with my job, that’s just not going to happen. As far as treatments at home, twice a week I use the Urban Skin Rx Purifying Pumpkin Pore Detox Mask and Scrub. It’s really good. It smells amazing, and gets noticeably warm. Wei has really good masks, the Golden Root Purifying Mask and the Brown Sugar Ready Glow Exfoliating Mask. I’m a big exfoliating girl, because once I started to do it regularly, I’d notice any kind of texture on my skin. But I would caution against really abrasive exfoliants. Urban Skin Rx has one and I had to stop using it—it was a little too abrasive.
I’ve been going to Aesthetics Salon in Arlington since 2014. They’re so good. Even when I was in Philly I would drive there. There were times when they’d only be able to take me during the week—I’d wake up at 2:30AM, work the morning shift, drive down at noon, sit in the chair for five or six hours, get back to Philly around 11PM, and go to work the next day. In the past, I have not been allowed to wear my hair curly on-air. That was so frustrating because it’s limiting outside of work—it’s restrictive, it’s expensive. When I was reporting and it was humid out, or I happened to get caught in the rain, I’d have to go home and flat iron it again. I was constantly putting heat on my hair to be TV ready, and six months in, my hair had completely broken off. My hair stylist was like, ‘You have to do a weave now.’ I had no choice! A good weave and a good hair stylist will run you $600 easily, and I was doing this every five to six weeks. There’s also the fact that when you have a weave, you can’t really tie your hair up because you can see the tracks. I couldn’t just jump into my apartment pool—I had to time it out.
With this job I am able to wear it curly, but it was absolutely nerve wracking the day before the debut. And I still go to a salon every week to do a flexi-rod set. My curls are naturally a little smaller and tighter—they basically wrap my hair around a thicker rod, and it takes the width and form of that rod. After that, I don’t touch it. I pop on a bonnet every night, pull it off in the morning, shake it out, and I’m good to go. It has been absolutely life changing, and for me, it also feels more authentic.
Chanel Mademoiselle gives me a headache, but I put up with it for a few years because I loved the fragrance. Eventually I took to Tiktok for recommendations, and now I use Coffee Break by Maison Margiela. It doesn’t smell like coffee. I wish they wouldn’t call it that, because everybody is like, ‘So you drink coffee to stay up and you wear Coffee.’ [Laughs] It’s actually kind of sweet, and musky. Oscar de la Renta has one called Bella Blanca that I like too. It’s floral but not overwhelming or anything like that, which is part of the problem. Because it’s so light it’s not long lasting at all. It’s so frustrating. But I really recommend it. It’s sophisticated.
I wish they wouldn’t call it that, because everybody is like, ‘So you drink coffee to stay up and you wear Coffee.’
It’s hard for me to unplug. My husband’s really big on watching the newscast, but that makes me feel like I’m at work, so I’ll scroll through Twitter and read the latest instead. I’m constantly taking in news, even on vacation, because I don’t want to come back and all this stuff has happened. And the news can be extremely anxiety-inducing—you see the extremes of humanity, the best and the worst of it. Mostly the worst. I am cognizant of the fact that publicists try to grab headlines by making things sound extreme… But I also know that when the reality of the situation is really bad, they might actually be trying to downplay it.
Turning it off is really tough because I’m very, very much an overthinker. Yesterday, I was like, ‘Dang, I just remembered a question I asked two weeks ago that wasn’t a good question.’ [Laughs] But I try not to work right before I go to bed. I’ll play jazz on YouTube as I’m prepping for bed, and then make myself a cup of ginger chamomile lemon tea. There’s this local herb store called Apothékary, and they have these teas called Do Not Disturb and Chill the F Out that help me wind down. I also try to do reading that’s not work-related. But I have to go to sleep between 6 and 8. I need a lot of sleep. I could sleep with the curtains open and the sun shining on my face.”
—as told to ITG
Jeannette Reyes photographed by Abrielle Williams in Washington DC on October 30, 2021