You probably know Ana Belaval as the fun-loving, charismatic “Around Town” reporter for Chicago’s top-rated WGN Morning News. But she’s also the mom of two and a four-time Emmy Award winner who is proud to represent Latina women in mainstream media.
How does it feel to be a role model to Latina women?
I take my position very seriously and understand that I have to help other Latinx to make it just like I have. It’s (2020) and I can’t still be one of a few Latinx personalities on English media. I know I have a seat at the big table and I do my best to make sure other Latinx talent is represented and considered. I make sure if any young Latinx journalist calls or emails for advice that I make the time to help them out just as I was helped. It is a privilege for me to be a role model to other Latinx people. I wanted to be that someone they could relate to on TV and say “oh look, she looks like me, she sounds like me, that could be me one day.”
As the Around Town reporter, you’ve gotten to go to some of Chicago’s coolest places. What are some of your favorites?
Any time I get to be on stage with any ensemble of a regional theater, I absolutely love it because I would have loved to have been a musical actor, and the acting community in our city has been wonderful to me. I really love when I get to go to any of our museums with our crew beforeit opens to the public and I get to enjoy our cultural treasures in peace and quiet. I also love discovering little treasures from our neighborhoods, like Freddy’s Pizza in Cicero or El Mercado in Lakeview.
What’s been your top live moment on air?
My favorite live moment is when I didn’t know Ricky Martin, one of my idols, could hear me fan girling over him after I interviewed him.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
Some days are better than others, and I’ve accepted that. I’m lucky that even though I work early hours, that allows me to be home with the kids in the afternoons. I also include my children in what I do. I tell them and they can see how much I love it and I think that helps them deal when I can’t be with them.
You are a prime example as someone who hustled and worked your way up to fulfill your dream. What’s your best advice for young girls—especially minority girls—about facing obstacles?
I can’t stress enough the importance of educating yourself, of preparing yourself so that when opportunity knocks you are ready and you can say yes without risking making a mistake. … We always tell my daughter that I can make my job look easy because I work hard at it every day, that such ease doesn’t happen overnight or because of natural talent. You have to work and polish that talent daily.
Mom in the Spotlight: Ana Belaval
Children: Amelia, 12, and Alex, 6
Hometown: Chicago’s West Lakeview neighborhood
Parenting must haves: Patience, flexibility and a sense of humor
Favorite family winter activity: Nothing outdoors!
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This article originally published in Chicago Parent’s February 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue here.