Fayola KJ Fraser
“I’m a journalist and an anchor, maybe a role model to some people, but I’m also a sister, daughter, colleague and friend. Above all, at the end of the day, I’m just me, just Ria.” A familiar face lighting up the screens of many households in T&T at 7 pm, Ria Rambally, anchor and Lead Editor–Broadcast at CNC3. Rambally is the wearer of many hats and is just as dedicated to her craft in the media as she is to her family life, community, health practices and advocacy for causes with non-profit organisations.
“A Central girl through and through,” she was born and raised in a small village in Carapichaima, where she still resides. Attending both primary and secondary school in central Trinidad, Rambally considers this community her home, “where my navel string bury”.
Family has been a grounding force and a bedrock of support in Rambally’s life from childhood. She recalled always having a close-knit family and spending weekends at her grandparents’ home in Bamboo Village, where her mother would take her and her siblings to help cook, clean and prepare the house for her grandparents’ return from selling their produce in the market. These weekends at her grandparents’ home were also where she observed the adults and developed and honed her skills as a covert champion All Fours player. Along with her cousins and siblings, she has fond memories of riding bikes, playing outside, and picking mangoes and cashews. “I was a complete tomboy,” she recalls, a surprise to many who now exclusively see her in her full glam on the newscast.
Rambally initially pursued an Associate of Applied Science in Journalism/Public Relations, and subsequently a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications at COSTAATT. It was during this time, at the tertiary level, that “things started to click, and my lecturers told me that I had potential, motivating me to work in the media”. After completing her Associate Degree, she applied to CNC3 and IETV, landing an interview with both media houses. 19-year-old Rambally, upon entering the CNC3 station for her interview was awed and terrified, seeing people for the first time she only ever saw on television. She was told that she would be called to come into the station to pick up her letter. After waiting anxiously for the call, it never came. Ever optimistic, she happily took the other job offer presented to her at IETV. In retrospect, Rambally firmly believes that IETV was the right fit for her at the time as a young journalist entering the media, as “it allowed me to grow, learn the media, develop my skills and shine”.
Four years later, she got the call she had been waiting for from CNC3. She was hired as a senior reporter in 2011 and quickly progressed through the ranks buoyed by her acute talent and dedication to hard work. At present, as an anchor and lead editor, her role requires her to not only focus on developing stories but also manage resources, implement high-level strategic goals of the company and lead a team of writers and junior editors.
“The public sometimes thinks I just sit in the hair and makeup chair at 5 pm and read the news and that’s it,” she laughs, but Rambally usually works a hectic schedule from early in the morning to late in the evening. Her daily routine consists of drinking coffee to begin pumping up when most people are winding down in the late afternoon, as she is required to perform her best at the very end of her day.
A devoted daughter, both of Rambally’s parents have shaped her life’s journey in different ways. She remains grounded by her family and credits her father’s feedback on her anchoring as one of the most important tools in her developmental toolkit. He faithfully watches her on the newscast every night and gives her advice on when she needs to speak more slowly, increase her energy or alter her style. Rambally’s mother, who passed away due to a complication from diabetes nine years ago, has also impacted her life in many ways. “When my mom passed away, I took a step back and changed my lifestyle and diet, and committed to exercise,” she says, wanting to reduce the likelihood of getting diabetes herself. She was also drawn to organisations such as the UWI Blood Donor Foundation and makes time to attend as many of their events as possible. Rambally also supports the Autism Siblings and Friends Network (ASFN), as one of her nephews has autism, and the work of the ASFN deeply resonates with her, knowing first-hand the challenges people with autism and their families have to face.
“It is a blessing, a privilege and a curse to always be in front of the camera,” Rambally muses, “the best part is the familiarity and love I receive from the public”. As many young women do, she is forced to contend with the societal pressures of looking and acting a certain way or expectations of marriage and children. She even receives unsolicited comments, sometimes from complete strangers, about her hair, teeth, and weight. Those pressures are magnified for her as a public person, but Rambally remains incredibly centered and authentically herself, trusting her own instincts and being guided by her intuition. “I feel empowered to challenge people’s notions of what I should be, and I encourage other women to release themselves from expectations,” she says.
Ria Rambally stands in front of the camera every night, pouring her heart into relaying vital information to the viewing public. A responsibility she holds dear, her unwavering dedication to the media, family and advocacy is a testament to her person. Even with minor diversions along her life’s journey, Rambally’s path always led to CNC3, and she continues to give her all to develop the best possible newscast for the station’s viewership.