Journalist. Television and radio talk show host. Executive Producer. Actor. Voiceover artist. Public speaker. Humanitarian. Comedian. Author. All around good person.
Those are all unique and distinctive jobs and talents. They are also all descriptives for the immensely talented all-around phenomenon that is Rolonda Watts.
Most people are raised to believe you have to find that one thing, that something you’re good at and do your best to develop it and maybe you can make a career out of it. That one thing. In fact in this age of specialization we are told that trying to be a “Jack (or Jill) of all trades, means you will be a master of nothing. Or something like that.
But thank goodness Rolonda Watts moves to the beat of a different drum. Watts discovered something she was good at. But then she kept on discovering. It turns out she is good at a lot of things. And she was not that person to believe she had to limit herself. So she kept doing whatever moved her and that she felt she could do. And she hasn’t stopped yet.
The question so many of us have though, is how does she do it all?
“I have the same 24 hours as anybody else,” Watts said. “I just spend my hours prioritizing by doing the things I love most, or making what I do better. Each career deserves it’s own attention and preparation, so, I chisel out the time to respect each craft. It’s like having a tribe of kids! Or, keeping five plates spinning smoothly in the air. Keeping balance is an art in itself, but worth it, if you love what you do and focus your time on what truly makes you and your soul happy.”
She makes it sounds easy. But the talented always do. Clearly she works hard at her crafts. But it’s also clear she has a gift. Or should we say, gifts? Not everyone has those gifts. Though it is said we all have something special to offer the world. It’s just a mater of finding it. And as Watts proves, we shouldn’t just assume there is only one gift, one talent, inside.
But even with Watts, and all the talents she shares with the world, there are always some things that move us more than others. For her it is sharing stories. The interesting part is that there are many ways to share stories. It just so happens she is good at putting those out there through so many mediums.
Watts says, “I love my role as a storyteller. I hope my stories touch and move people. With almost four decades in news and entertainment, my stories have changed hearts, minds, and even laws. I love storytelling because it’s the common thread in all that I do — as a journalist, podcaster, actor, talk show host, voice artist, novelist — telling stories is my passion. Stories bring humanity together. As Dr. Maya Angelou would say, ‘We are more alike than unalike,’ … and our stories remind us of that – generation after generation.”
While Watts has been telling stories, in a sense, for many years, through her roles as journalist, host, comedian and even actor, being a published novelist is a relatively new way to share the stories she wants to tell. She is the author of the popular book, “Destiny Lingers.” The book is about an investigative news reporter in New York City, who uncovers breaking stories every day, but she has yet to uncover the truth of her own life―until the morning she discovers a strand of red hair on her husband’s pillow. Unfortunately, the only person Destiny knows with red hair is her best friend, Eve. From there the story plunges into a tale of pain and self-discovery and love. It’s a fascinating story. Which begs the question of course, what inspired Watts to tell this story?
“I wanted to tell a story of how love endures all – even hatred – as my two characters, once separated by segregation, get a second chance at love,” she explained. “Time moves on — but destiny lingers. I also wanted to capture the history of Ocean City, NC – the first Black beachfront vacation resort community in NC, which my grandparents helped establish in 1948. I also rode out and survived Hurricane Bertha there in 1996 and that encouraged me to tell a story about the best and worst of human and Mother Nature.”
Watts found the courage to jump into being a novelist and considers storytelling her best gift. But of her hats or roles, the one she finds the toughest, in a way, is stand up comedy. After all live comedy audiences can be brutal, as many a standup has found out.
Watts says she sort of backdoored her way into standup. “I’ve always loved Comedy, which is the hardest form of theater,” she sad. “I always had a secret desire to do stand up comedy and would actually practice some of my bits with my live audience during commercial breaks on my Rolonda! talk show, but I never took it seriously, until some of my comedian friends dared me to take stage. I’m told I’m naturally funny – but I love the truthful storytelling aspect of standup. Good, bad, ugly, or indifferent — ya can’t fake funny!”
Standup comedy is one of the oldest forms of storytelling but Watts has also jumped into one of the newest, podcasting. Podcasts are extremely popular these days. Which is kind of a loop back to the old days of radio, when people would listen to their shows versus watching them. Watts has a background in radio hosting so podcasting comes naturally to her. Which is great since it gives fans another way to get access to her. On her show, “Rolonda The Podcast,” she has interviewed such notables as Carol Burnett and Jane Fonda, among others. So she is doing podcasting in a big way.
Interestingly, she says she was into podcasting, even before the format took off recently. “I was hosting my podcast long before podcasts were even popular,” Watts said. “I started ‘Sundays with Rolonda’ on Blog Talk Radio because I have a lot to say and with modern-day technology, I don’t have to depend on anyone else, namely a TV network, for my right to say it. My podcast was later picked up by CBS Play.it before now landing a happy home with the C-Suite Radio Network, one of the fastest-growing business podcast networks of the day.”
Watts is a natural talker and host, and especially skilled at interviewing people and bringing out their stories. Her skills at doing this go back to her days on the “Rolonda” Show. She has a lot of proud moments from that show, from getting kids out of gangs, saving others from suicide, championing gay issues. And she says she is still touched by the support she got from some of those who appeared on the show as guests, including Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and others.
What a career and life she has had so far. But the thing is, we know she is not done. Not by a long shot. Watts is not done exploring her skills and talents, and sharing stories. Of course, she says she is working on taking on more roles.
“I’m writing the screenplay and sequel to ‘Destiny Lingers.’ I have a couple of other movies I’d like to produce. I also feel it’s time for my memoir. And, maybe a one-woman show from all the crazy stories I tell in my comedy sets.”
Wow. Makes the rest of us seem like slackers. In the meantime, while those projects are developed there are of course a lot of ways to get your fill of Watts. She shared some of the ways.
“I’ve been enjoying the recurring role of Forensic Pathologist, Dr. Melissa Meyers, on ‘Criminal Minds,’ (CBS). I also have three movies coming out – all thrillers — ‘The New Girl,’ ‘DWELLERS,’ and ‘Manchausen by Internet.’ My romance, suspense novel, ‘Destiny Lingers,’ comes out in audio version this summer, the novel was endorsed by Dr. Maya Angelou. I voice the character of Professor Wiseman on Hulu’s ‘Curious George’ and Mary Sinclair in the upcoming LEGO’s TV animation.I’ve launched Rolonda’s Reinvention Retreat, coaching, encouraging, and helping others recreate their happiest life. Which you can get more info on by visiting RolondasRetreat.com. And finally I enjoy speaking across the nation about race, women’s empowerment, reinventing yourself, branding your business and much more.”
Again, just wow. So much goodness from just one person.