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Michaela Pereira’s ‘Person Who Changed My Life’ is a Victorian

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By Michael D. Reid, Victoria Times Colonist         January 24, 2016

Victoria’s Michaela Pereira one of many CNN journalists featured in doc The Person Who Changed My Life
Michaela Pereira at her CNN anchor desk. The veteran broadcaster got her start in Victoria as co-host of CHEK Around in the mid-1990s.   Photograph By CNN

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The CNN anchor, who began her broadcasting career at CHEK TV here in the mid-1990s, was accompanied by producer Marlei Martinez on a covert mission.

They flew in to capture footage for what was then a secret project — The Person Who Changed My Life, a two-hour special hosted by Pereira and Anderson Cooper. It aired on CNN Saturday night.

It features some of CNN’s best-known journalists introducing the men and women who changed the course of their lives.

CNN stars including Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Erin Burnett, Cooper, Pereira and her New Day co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota reflect upon their emotional journeys. The person who changed Pereira’s life, she says, was Moyra Rodgers, the Magnify Digital CEO and former CHEK producer who inspired her unvarnished younger self to pursue a broadcasting career.

“I always tell people that TV happened to me by accident,” says Pereira in her segment.

Rodgers, who was producing a public service announcement titled Imagine a World Without Contrast, had an open call for “ethnic and diverse-looking people,” Pereira recalls.

“My colour, my size, my ethnicity, my last name, my big old curly hair … none of that was an impediment to you,” the CNN personality tells Rodgers on-camera.

It was because of Rodgers’ belief in her, she adds, that she auditioned and met CHEK veteran Gordie Tupper, with whom Pereira hosted the magazine show CHEK Around for years.

Her ensuing gigs included hosting Internet Tonight on San Francisco’s ZDTV, and becoming the late Roger Ebert’s temporary co-host on Ebert at the Movies.

Pereira co-anchored KTLA’s top-rated morning news show for nine years in Los Angeles before moving three years ago to New York and CNN, where she has also co-hosted At This Hour with John Berman.

In her segment, a compact valentine to Victoria, Pereira reunites with Rodgers at Swans pub, recalling their lunch there two decades ago when her mentor said “something so profound to me it changed my life.”

The show also captures Pereira’s return to CHEK, where she jokes, laughs and hugs Tupper and other staffers, and flashes back to clips of her work as a newscaster, and her CHEK Around hijinks.

“Nick [Hellyer], our camera guy, said: ‘Well, one more person has been added, this girl Michaela Pereira,’” says Tupper, recalling what happened when they reached the end of the list of local people who auditioned for the show.

“After two minutes of talking to you,” Tupper tells Pereira on-camera, “I looked at Nick, and he looked at me, and we said: ‘There we go!’ ”

The day after shooting that footage, the Saskatoon-born broadcaster admitted it took her by surprise to find she was so emotional.

“Every time I come home, it feels like a cold drink of water on a hot, hot day. My lungs feel better, my heart feels better, my brain feels better,” she said late on a Saturday afternoon last September at the Empress Hotel.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY  HERE  AT THE VANCOUVER PROVINCE WEBSITE

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