Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I’m Leanne Suter. I’m a general assignment reporter at KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
No, initially I wanted to be the next Jane Goodall. My major in college was primate psychology until I realized there were probably only 5 jobs in the world I really wanted. I figured I had better think about a plan B. My college advisor said since I was always reading and asking tons of questions I should look into journalism. He thought it would be a great fit. I tried several classes..print, radio and when I got to TV I knew that was it. That was the calling. Matching words to the pictures to tell a story. I wanted to share everyone’s story. I changed my major to journalism and have been grateful to my college advisor ever since.
Were you scared to start the process?
I was so excited to start my career, but I will never forget my first live shot. My hand holding the microphone was shaking so badly I’m sure everyone could see it, but I realized that day that the only way to learn was by trying. Experiencing the good and the bad is where we grow and we grow the most with the challenges.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I spent my early childhood in Jamaica. We lived in a small town up in the mountains. I was the only caucasian kid around until my sister was born. I quickly learned I was different because of the color of my skin and I was treated differently because of it. Learning what it’s like to be in the minority was one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There is no such thing as failure…only lessons learned. Never be afraid to try. You will never regret trying, but you will always wonder if you don’t.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Own all of you! Everything that makes you unique or different. Love everything you are because all of it is what makes you so special.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are beautiful, you are worthy and you are wanted. The universe put you here for a reason. How do I know that? You’re HERE aren’t you!
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
No, especially during those awful teen years. I was tall, thin and gangly, but from a very young age (when I already stood head and shoulders above the rest) my Mom taught me to own my height. She always said, “own what makes you different because that is what makes you unique.” I learned not only was my height beautiful, but having confidence in my difference it what makes me truly shine.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love my height. I’m 6 ft tall. 6’3-6’4 when I have on heels. I love standing out in the crowd… makes it easy to find my friends and for them to find me.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
It will all work out in the end. No matter what the challenge or adversity you WILL reach the other side. It may not be how you envisioned it or even what you wanted, but many times it’s what we didn’t know we needed.
Adversity can be the biggest gift. If you are open, you can learn the most valuable lessons.
What motivates you most?
Wanting to learn and challenge myself both mentally and physically. It always reminds me I’m capable of anything. From learning more about our world, my community and me, its all about constantly growing. I just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with father (for his 70th birthday) and it was one if the hardest things I’ve ever done. Yes, it was challenging physically, but the biggest battle was the mental fight. It truly became mind over matter. Your doubts challenging you to give up, but simply putting one foot in front of the other will get you to the summit. It’s a balancing act of trusting yourself and at the same time letting go. We are capable of so much more than we believe. Just have faith and keep moving forward… one step at a time.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
For me being out in mother nature is the best way to manage the stress and release the emotions. I see so much tragedy on the job and it is difficult not to take it home. Being outdoors among the trees or along the beach clears my soul. The magic of mother nature is a powerful elixir.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
Move my body. It’s not just how it makes me feel physically, but mentally it’s the best way to help me focus on the future. Clears the doubts and reminds me how much I have to be grateful for. Those endorphins are the best drug for you! A natural boost you can get with just a 5 min. walk. If you’re having a bad day and are struggling, put on a happy song and move.. walk, dance, whatever… I promise it will change your mindset and even make you smile.
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
Yes, my college journalism professor, Conrad Smith. He believed in me from the beginning. He would always challenge me to do better and to be better. Sharing someone’s story is a gift and I learned to treat it with the respect it deserves. He’s still teaching me lessons that apply to all aspects of life. Mainly, never stop learning and never stop trying.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
That I’m 6ft tall. On TV you only see me from the waist up and most have no idea just how tall I am.
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I would be a primate psychologist or maybe the world’s tallest gymnast.
Who is your biggest role model? Why?
My Mother is my biggest role model. She decided to go to law school when we returned to the states. She had two young daughters and much of her family didn’t agree with her decision, but she knew it was what she needed to do. Her determination was truly inspiring. She was one of the first women in her law class, one of the first female prosecutors in our county and she did it all while raising a family. She has shown me what a strong woman truly is. Dedicated to bettering herself so she can help others. She taught my sister and I that anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself. Never let others tell you what you can’t accomplish.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration being out in Mother Nature. There’s truth to the power of hugging a tree. The energy of being outside can clear your soul. Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” I think giving yourself the gift of seeing the beauty that exists outdoors is one of the best investments you can make.
What are your biggest passions?
I love to travel and experience what this wonderful world has to offer. I often combine that love with my love of the outdoors. Walking through a new city or a new forest let’s you soak in all the raw energy a new location has to offer. And it often leads to new adventures or hidden spots you wouldn’t find otherwise. Those special finds are often the best experiences. From meeting a local to finding a hidden oasis, seeing the world through new eyes gives you the gift of seeing how we are all connected. It’s the same with sharing someone’s story. It always offers the chance to teach or inspire others through simple human connection. The more you see, the more you do, the more you grow.
Leanne Suter is passionate about sharing other’s stories. She is a general assignment reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News, joining the station in 2003. She enjoys hiking, traveling and scuba diving.