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Tamani Wooley: “Blessed are the flexible!”

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“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere, it’s up to you, New York, New York!”

Frank Sinatra crooned these words in this famous song about his favorite city, and it resonates true with the dynamic, spirited and talented Tamani Wooley.

An Emmy-nominated television anchor, host, reporter and producer with more than ten years’ experience in broadcast journalism, she began her career in New York City after growing up in New Castle, Delaware. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a theater degree.

She moved to New York City with the blessing of her mama, Carol, the September after college graduation. “I wanted to move to the city to do theater. When you’re young, you have rose-colored glasses and energy for days. I had bright lights in my eyes. It was challenging and it was not easy. At all. I had my share of bad roommates. I was never mugged or anything like that,” she mused. “It opened me to amazing people in my life and helped me build my career in the number one market, which is unheard of. That was a blessing and has given me peace. I did it in one of the most challenging cities in the world. When I meet young reporters, I tell them to go in their 20s when it’s just you. You have energy and stamina and vision to do it. I have zero regrets and I’m very thankful for that.”

Actor to Journalist
Her door to becoming a reporter opened wide when she studied method acting at The Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. Robert Castle, one of her acting coaches, got involved with a video streaming company and thought she would be perfect for it. Thus, she fell into journalism and began doing entertainment pieces for Yo New York. “I entered in the glamorous side, doing movie premieres. I interviewed Halle Berry, John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Renée Zellweger. I did so many fun things around the city. Then, the bubble burst and things went crazy, so I decided I liked being on that side of the camera and went to graduate school at Long Island University, the Brooklyn campus,” she continued. “I have my master’s degree in media arts, and from there started an internship at Metropolitan Transit Authority. They had an incredible internship and I worked on their monthly news magazine. We produced, wrote, hosted and shot every story. It was an amazing hands-on internship with Winston Mitchell, our news director. It was called Transit Transit News Magazine.”

She kept building her skills and was able to use her amazing reel and experience to get into news channel NY1. She became Superwoman, doing her paid internship three days a week at MTA, then NY1 and grad school at the same, while working at Pottery Barn. “I had a roommate, but it wasn’t cheap. The beautiful thing is, when you’re young and hungry, you are willing to work as hard as you can to achieve it. I’m so grateful to NY1; you could come in and work hard and advance,” she reflected. “I started as a news assistant and within six to nine months I was promoted to reporter for the local edition of NY1.”

Finding Home
Her move from New York City to Albany in July 2016 came when she asked God, “What’s next?” She found she could not achieve the quality of life she wanted in the city and wanted to move to a warmer climate. One day she drove around Queens for an hour trying to find a place to park; that’s part of what spurred her move to Albany, then to Clifton Park, where she purchased her home. Being from Delaware, she had a better sense of what life could really be. She loves that she has had more visitors from the time she moved than she had all the time in New York City.

Her path changed when someone stepped in to alter her course. Nick Cowdrey, currently the managing director of editorial content for Spectrum News 1, was the station’s news editor who reached out to her, and that was that. “I’m the morning feature reporter for Your Mornings on Spectrum News 1 and an anchor,” Tamani said. “My official title is anchor/reporter. Plus, I host On the Menu, in which I lead fellow foodies through restaurants across the region.” She also hosted Weekend Buzz, a half-hour show sharing fun things viewers can do with the family, and she reports about what’s going on in and around the Capital Region.

“I’m grateful that I had parents who exposed me to a lot of things. Even at only 22, my mom didn’t blink an eye or try to dissuade me. She had faith in the woman she made me to be and this helped me become the anchor reporter I am today,” she related. Her father, Herman, passed from leukemia; she has four older brothers, two god sisters and a stepsister.

“It’s such a beautiful region and place of rest and peace with the Adirondacks being so close by. There is so much to do up here. You have the time, the energy and money to do it. In New York City, it takes you forever to get anywhere and you spend all your money on rent!” she remarked. “Theater here is fantastic, and Proctors is a great theater. There is not a show I’ve seen there that hasn’t rivaled Broadway. I do a lot of theater segments; many of the actors that come here come from Broadway. It’s fantastic. I love that I can expose people to that.”

During COVID’s heated time, the show went virtual, and she credits her station for doing such a great job transitioning to virtual. She and her photographer, Nick Inco, whom she calls her partner in crime, made it happen. Tamani calls her colleagues, who include Dan Bazile, Julie Chapman and Heather Morrison, the dream team; she enjoys their work relationship and how their ensemble captures the essence of the stories that go out. “It’s a pleasure to bring joy to our viewers,” she remarked.     

Opening Her Life
What is even more incredible about her is her ability to care about others, so much so that she is the foster mother to two little girls, ages eight and eleven. Her life path led her to get her certification to be a single foster mom and it has been a very rewarding challenge in her busy life. “I have only foster children, none of my own. I’ve always loved kids and had a connection with them. I worked at the YWCA in Newark, Delaware, as after-school camp counselor while I was in college. It was the best job ever, playing with kids, coloring, going on field trips, playing kickball. I always have loved kids and ever since I was young, I knew I’d adopt. It has always been in my heart,” she expressed. “When I moved to New York City after college and went to Brooklyn Tabernacle, I was part of the Royal Family kids’ camp for abused children. For one week a summer we took them to a camp to provide them with positive memories; that was quite the experience and eye-opening. The hardest part for a lot of us counselors was to bring them back home not knowing what kind of environment they were going back into.” She admits it has been challenging, and that it truly takes a village, her neighbors and her church, Northway Church in Clifton Park, to raise these two little angels. She involves her girls in activities they would not have had, including Girl Scouts and artistic activities. 

Her fur babies enrich her life, and her giving spirit led her to rescue them. Her cat, Berry White, found her three years ago when she was doing a story on animals who needed to be adopted. “I had just lost my cat of 20 years and they brought Berry and another dog to the station. I adopted Berry but was living in an apartment at the time so couldn’t take the dog,” she explained. “I found Lucy, my mixed-breed darling dog, in 2019 when I was on a mission trip on a Navajo reservation in Arizona with my friends from my former church, Brooklyn Tabernacle. I was looking for a dog because I knew I wanted to be a foster mom. Lucy was so good and had a perfect temperament and got along great with the kids. Animal Transportation Worldwide brought Lucy to my front door the day I moved into my house in Clifton Park. What a housewarming gift!”

Tamani enjoys baking and is famous for her chocolate chip cookies, which are requested at every gathering at work, church and home. She also makes a mean queso, and co-workers also request her tater tot casserole.

What’s her advice to any woman desiring to follow her dream? “First of all, get a mentor who wants you to succeed as much as you want to succeed. My mentor is an anchor at NY1, Cheryl Wills, who has mentored quite a few of the young women, especially African American women. I’m very thankful for her. Sometimes they will believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Don’t sell yourself short, have a vision for yourself. Every commercial tells us we need to be thinner, taller; no one can be better than you, so believe in that. Don’t be afraid to work your way up. I didn’t want to start as a news assistant, but had I not humbled myself I wouldn’t be where I am today. Once I got in the door, I was able to prove to them what I could do.”

Tamani keeps this thought always: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.” This has brought her through COVID, foster parenting and has helped her be a bit gentler with herself.

Tamani’s Tater Tot Casserole

32-oz. bag frozen tater tots
16-oz. roll spicy sausage (can use mild)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese (can sub more cheddar)
1½ cups whole or 2% milk
6 extra-large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

4 to 6 slices crispy thick-sliced bacon, chopped
Scallions (green parts chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan. Brown sausage and onions. Drain on a paper towel. In a large bowl, whip eggs; add three-fourths of the cheese, milk and salt and pepper. Layer sausage in bottom of the pan. Pour egg mixture over the sausage. Top with tater tots. Bake covered for about 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and top with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake for about another 

5 minutes until cheese is melted. Can top with crumbled crispy bacon and chopped scallions.