Why motherhood isn't stopping TV's Joy Reid from pursuing her dream

“I wanted my kids, especially my daughter, to know that you can follow your dreams at any stage of your life."

By Donna Fleming
It’s not very often that TV reporter Joy Reid is at a loss for words. But finding out she had landed the coveted job as TVNZ’s Europe correspondent was one of
those rare occasions when she struggled to express herself.
“I was absolutely dumbstruck,” says Joy recalling the phone call from her boss telling her the position was hers.
“I’d love to say that I said something really professional and profound when he told me, but all I could think of was, ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!’”
Being a foreign correspondent is something Joy (32) has wanted to do since she became a journalist 13 years ago.
“When you’re based in London and covering stories throughout Europe, you’re going to be reporting on events that will have worldwide significance and will often be history-making. It is the sort of stuff journalists thrive on and I am so excited to be doing this. I still can’t quite believe it!”
The mum-of-two, who was based in Christchurch before moving with her family to the UK at the end of September, knew that if she got the job, it would mean big changes for her family. Thankfully, her husband Geoffrey (33) has been fully supportive. A public servant, he has taken leave from his job and will be a full-time dad to Jonathan (4) and 18-month-old Stella for the two years they’ll be based in the UK.
“I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for him,” says Joy. “It means I can just head off to wherever I need to be, depending on what stories happen.”
She talked to previous Europe correspondent Garth Bray and current US correspondent Rebecca Wright, who both have children, about how they managed. Both were very encouraging.
“Garth said if you have one parent at home, it is definitely possible. Rebecca said if you can juggle motherhood and work in New Zealand, you can do it in the UK. Everybody says being an overseas correspondent is the most full-on gig they have ever done, but also the most adventurous time of their life. They have never, ever regretted it.”
She adds, “I wanted my kids, especially my daughter, to know that you can follow your dreams at any stage of your life. You don’t have to do it before you have kids or while you are younger. And motherhood doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing your dreams.”
In the few weeks Joy has been based in London, she has already hit the ground running, travelling to Belgium to cover the moving events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, in which New Zealand suffered huge losses of life. Prince William was the guest of honour and Joy is looking forward to doing more stories involving royals.
“I’d love to interview Prince Harry. There could be a royal wedding and there will be a royal baby next year, so I am looking forward to those. I’m also excited about going to Gallipoli for Anzac Day – that is going to be a highlight.”
Joy knows there is a strong possibility she’ll to have to report on some tragic situations, such as terror attacks.
“I don’t know if there is ever anything you can do to fully prepare yourself for some of the things you are likely to come into contact with,” she admits.
“But going through the Christchurch earthquake, and reporting on that for years afterwards, taught me powerful lessons about how to debrief and deal with things that are troubling me.
“With some of the stuff we are likely to come across, there has to be a level of putting feelings aside because otherwise you would cry every night, but you also have to recognise that you are only human.”
It’s exciting being in London – although Joy lived in Germany for a year as an exchange student, she had only spent three days in the UK before now. One thing she’s missing about New Zealand, other than family and friends, is working for the charity she co-founded a year ago.
She and a friend set up One Mother To Another, which supplies gift bags to mothers of children who are in hospital.
“I had a traumatic birth with Jonathan. He wasn’t breathing when he was born, so he went straight to NICU and needed a lot of help. He’s made a full recovery and is amazing, but I remember how afraid and vulnerable I felt in those first days.
We wanted to do something for mums in similar situations and things are really taking off – we supply 130 bags a month at the moment in Christchurch.
“I’m doing as much as I can from here, but obviously I can’t be as hands-on as I was.”
Joy says getting used to the late nights and early starts she has now because of the time difference isn’t a problem. “I’ve got young children – I’m quite prepared for sleep deprivation. I have been training for it for four years!”

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