The Person Who Gave Me the Spark I Needed

In honor of Black History Month, we asked On-Camera Meteorologist Alex Wallace about what inspired him to pursue meteorology, his idols in the field of science and weather, and what impact he hopes to have on the world.

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to do something in TV.  Behind the scenes or on camera, I didn’t know but I knew it would be in TV.  I’ve just always had this obsession with television, particularly news.  As a young boy, I would watch the local and national news religiously.  Sure, I would watch all the usual shows for kids like He-Man, Thundercats, Ninja Turtles and a bunch of others but I would also tune in to catch what was going on in my city and around the world.  Then, I started to get really interested in the weather and I began to pay extra attention to the weather segments that aired during the news.  I started to think, “maybe that’s what I’ll do”.  It’s TV and Weather…the best of both worlds.  

I never really thought about it beforehand but when I saw an African-American Meteorologist on TV for the first time, it made me pause for a second.  There weren’t very many people that looked like me doing the weather.  Why was that? Were we not capable? Did we not want to?  All those questions rolled around in my head.  I still don’t have the answers to those questions but I do know that seeing that person gave me an extra spark to do what I do now.  That person was the legendary Vivian Brown!  She no doubt, in my mind, made it “cool” to be a Meteorologist.  We take for granted the number of minority Meteorologists there are now but back in the late 80s to early 90s, I didn’t see them.  For me, it was inspiring to see someone with such class, personality, expertise AND she looked like me.  I could do that!  

Fast forward to the start of my internship at The Weather Channel and, among all the other Meteorologists, you can imagine how nervous I was when I met her.  You hear horror stories about people on TV who only think about themselves and act like they are better than everyone else.  Well, that was not the case with Vivian.  Getting to meet her was a highlight and didn’t disappoint.  She was as nice as can be.  And during that Summer, it was always a pleasure to help out on her shows and I learned a lot.  I remember when I was about to finish up grad school, I wrote a quick note to everyone I worked with at The Weather Channel just to update them on what was going on with me.  Vivian responded with a very sweet email that ended with this quote, “Take care and remember, the sky’s the limit”!  She led the way towards the sky for me as well as many others and I couldn’t be more grateful.  

The fact that I got a chance to work with her was a dream and true honor.  As I look around and see African-Americans in the field of Meteorology, inside and outside of TV, that I have great respect and admiration for like Al Roker, Paul Goodloe, Janice Huff, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Dr. Ashton Robinson Cook and countless others, I feel proud.  It matters for kids to see people in these positions that look like them.  It did for me.  If I could have that impact on just one kid out there watching, I will have reached that sky Vivian Brown told me was the limit.

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