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Zip-lining to Success - The Tana-Kay Anderson Story

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson
Tana-Kay Anderson
Tana-Kay Anderson
Tana-Kay Anderson

Philosopher Albert Schweitzer once said, "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." ZJ Sapphire has gained popularity for doing what she loves - keeping you in the know every hour on the hour.

Flair Magazine caught up with the gem recently to find out more about her incredible life story.

Tana-Kay Anderson has always counted her blessings, despite her circumstances. She was adopted when she was three months old, by a loving couple, who, she recalled, were hustlers, "They always had something like a grocery shop, so I was always taken care of," she told Flair

Stemming from humble beginnings in Drewsland, Kingston, Anderson and her mother moved to a residential area in Vineyard Town when she was 12 years old, to live and help take care of her great-grand-aunt who had Alzhiemer's - a task she discovered was easier said than done.

"I had to get up early in the mornings to prepare breakfast for her before heading off to school. She was a handful to live with, and it was very challenging having to balance a domestic lifestyle of washing, cooking and cleaning, as well as bathing her, along with my studies," she explained. Anderson also had to put up with outbursts in the middle of the night, and physical abuse based on misunderstandings, "She hit me with her walking stick in my face, when she did not get her way, bawled out for murder after dark, and she even threw warm water on me once."




Anderson had to grow up quicker than her peers, for not only did she care for her great-grand-aunt, but she also took care of her mother, who was a paraplegic, which gave her added responsibilities. One morning, when she was in fourth form at Ardenne High School, as she woke up and prepared for mock exams, she discovered that her great-grand-aunt had passed away in her sleep. She went on to sit her exams in the midst of the tragedy.

The events which followed that dreadful incident shook her very foundation. They were forced to give up their great-grand-aunt's house and return to Drewsland, and that, Anderson revealed, took a toll on her mother. "Mommy fell sick. She just couldn't handle it. She developed colon cancer, and having to take care of her while she was in that state was too much to handle," Anderson said, trying to fight back the tears.

"I cried for days and nights. I graduated from high school in 2004, and had more time on my hands to get things done. It was a lot of work - I was back and forth from the hospital and I was the only one around to do everything. It was just an emotional time for me," she continued.

In 2005, her father passed away and that's when she realised she needed to find something to do to make some money to help out - even if it was part-time, "I was a part-time sales representative in a clothing store. I would work during the profitable seasons, like Christmas time. It didn't last for very long, because it was not something I wanted to settle with, but the people at the store appreciated my service, so I did that until business was slow."




She subsequently met a cameraman who asked her if she was interested in doing work as a receptionist, and she said "Sure". When she went in for the interview, she got the job. Being employed as a receptionist and librarian at Jamaica News Network (JNN) for her was a wonderful experience. She moved from logging tapes to becoming a production assistant at 20 years old.

Her mother's condition exacerbated and the final trip to the hospital when she heard that her mother had passed away crippled her. Her immediate response was to fall on the ground right there at Kingston Public Hospital and cry. "I couldn't move. My father passed away three years ago, and now Mommy. I felt the pain with him, but Mommy was there for support. After she died, there was no one left."

After losing her mother, she hit rock bottom.

Luckily for her, the JNN team offered their support and lifted her spirits. Over the years, the only way she could go was up, so they moved her into the newsroom - from writing and reading to logging footage, Anderson did it all, and pretty soon, she was promoted to junior producer. "I was so excited. I started doing productions of my own and doing features - I finally found something that I love. On my own, I came up with innovative ideas, and people were thrilled about it; so was I," she pointed out.

During this period, she received significant support from her boyfriend. "He was there for me, even at my mother's funeral, until I got pregnant. He professed then and there that he wasn't the one for me. So much for a happy ending ... . He disappeared when I was five to six months pregnant. So I was left as a single mother."

Anderson confessed that surprisingly she wasn't depressed. She had already lost her parents - nothing else could ever cause so much pain. Instead, she found strength, and that carried her through her pregnancy. "This all occurred when I became a junior producer. My mentor, Carol Francis, who pushed me beyond my limit at work, was there for me. They kept a baby shower for me. It was just amazing!" she remarked.




In 2010, her daughter, Ayana, was born. Her birth, Anderson said, gave life new meaning and was such a blessing. "The father of my child came to the hospital and he signed the papers as the father. But later asked for a DNA test which I found very disrespectful, because he signed the papers before and was now insinuating that I had been unfaithful, when he was there and knew what happened. But I went along with it, he got the test done and it proved that he is in fact the father."

Professionally, all her hard work paid off when she rose to become a fully fledged producer. The company was going through restructuring, and she was just holding her own. The salary was nothing to boast about, but it didn't matter; she really enjoyed production, "I liked the work, sitting with an editor and making it work." Then one day that all changed, "We had a redundancy exercise, I was in the batch, and in December 2012, at 26, I was out of a job."

All she knew was production, so she had no idea what she was going to do. She sent out rÈsumÈs and received a call from Zip 103. "I was ecstatic. This was yet another road to experience, a new chapter. I got my interview and they called me back three times. I've been there from April 2013. It has been great, so far, being a radio personality. But I always feel like I need to do more. Every day that I am at work, I do my very best and aspire to be even better."

Her advice to those wanting to progress in life, "Don't give up. Lean on those around you to give you strength and find your inner peace. Don't be afraid to try new things - seize every opportunity presented to you and make the best of it. And most of all, find your passion, do what you love and love what you do."