No Great Thing is Created Suddenly
“In this industry, there are going to be a lot of failures, and those failures are what gets you to the next level, not the wins. If you can power through that, those are the people who actually succeed,” says Cathy Kelley, 31, of perseverance. Raised by a scientist mother – who worked in a research lab and taught at a medical school – in the suburbs of Chicago, Kelley got an early look at what it meant to work hard. “That really influenced me to want to have a career as opposed to just a job,” she recalls. “It was important for me to do something I was passionate about.” By watching shows like MTV’s Total Request Live, Kelley’s interest in the media industry was piqued early on, wanting to follow in the footsteps of hosts La La Anthony and Vanessa Lachey. “I remember, from a very young age, whenever I would watch television, wanting to be a part of it,” she says. “I was just so in awe of it.”
With a newfound passion, Kelley honed her skills through her high school’s film program and later joined the news production team where she learned how to edit video packages and got her first taste in hosting a program that was broadcast throughout the school (“That was such an integral part of deciding that this was something I wanted to pursue”).
Through her diligent work ethic, opportunities arose. While in college, Kelley’s high school teacher had a series picked up by a local Chicago television station and recruited Kelley to work as one of the anchors. There, she gained even more on-camera experience as a host, learning how to record segments. Much to her chagrin, the show never aired but she learned valuable lessons, an experience that epitomizes her upward climb in the industry. “There were a lot of little wins that helped me move forward and validated that this was the path I should be on,” she shares.
After graduating from Loyola University Chicago, she worked at an ABC affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa. To further her career, she eventually took her talents to Los Angeles. Now, an on-air correspondent for WWE – the world’s largest wrestling promotion – Kelley attributes her current success to her determination and hard work. “People hear about all of these overnight successes, but the reality is, the people that are successful were waitressing for ten years and going through all the steps before they got their big break,” she elaborates. “Then it seems like an overnight success but no one really knows the number of hours, work, and sacrifice it takes to get there.”
Kelley joined WWE in 2016, debuting as a digital correspondent during WrestleMania 32 week in Dallas. She confirms that WWE is the perfect medium for her to utilize her journalism skills while still being creative as she gets to work with “larger-than-life personalities.”
You can surely guess who has been beyond proud of Kelley and all of her accomplishments. “One of my biggest goal was that I wanted my mom to watch me live on television, and that happened this past year,” she affirms. “That was probably my biggest goal in my career, and I accomplished it – so now it’s just about having fun.”
Writer: Alain Clerine
Photographer & Videographer: Mason Kim
Photographer Assistant: Joseph Chang
Stylist: Loren Robles
Hair: Carina Tafulu (using amika & Enzo Milano)
Makeup: Natalie Malchev
Makeup Assistant: Eric Jones
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)