A Media Trailblazer Shares Tips on How to Succeed
By Mustafa Ali
In a world where norms are set and rules are to be followed, Patrick Riley is a trailblazer of his time.
When everyone around him took a set path in their career, Riley decided to be a freelance producer and writer. He talked about his career and offered career advice during an exclusive Q&A with Boyd Journalism Workshop students.
Riley’s resume includes interviews with presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. His most notable work includes being part of the production team behind the Oprah Winfrey’s “Legends’ Ball,” a documentary that showcased the honoring of twenty-five African American women in art, entertainment, and civil rights.
From early on as a kid, Riley was intrigued by television, specifically celebrity biographies and pop culture. Asking his dad to subscribe to magazines such as TIME and Ebony JR gave him early training on interview technique and presenting a story to an audience in a captivating manner.
When Riley entered high school, he enrolled in a journalism course. This shed some light on what was really required for him to pursue his passion. He was told countless times that he wouldn’t make sufficient money following this career but he did it anyway, choosing to follow and work with his passion.
When asked what helped his career in media and television, he credited his professional internship experience while still in college.
“Internships. Those were all I did in college along with working with professional mentors who really helped my resume and strengthened my skills,” Riley said.
At a time when freelancing wasn’t considered the norm, Riley chose to be a trailblazer and became a freelancer.
“Freelancing really appealed to me because I wanted the freedom to be able to produce and have my own thing, and it worked well for me,” Riley said. “At the time, everyone convinced me to NOT do freelance. It was unstable, it wouldn’t work out etc, but hey, look far I’ve gone with it.”
From covering “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to travelling with Dr. Oz to the site of Hurricane Katrina, and winning multiple awards along the way, it’s clear that Riley’s decision to go rogue paid off.
Before the Q&A came to a close, Riley shared some important career advice.
“Always write down twice as many questions that you plan to ask. It gives you confidence that you won’t run out of questions and it never hurts to be extra prepared,” Riley said. “Also, don’t stop taking notes even after the interview is over. Many people relax and open up more after the camera is turned off and you can get some great info that way.”
An inspiration for us all to pursue our passion and turn into a career, Patrick Riley is a prime example that working hard to achieve to your goal pays off in the end.