[PERSONALITY] Cindy Hsu - NYC Emmy-Awarded Newscaster
- Cindy Hsu - Sweetheart in the City
New Yorkers are notoriously hard to please. That's why they say that
if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Especially in the
field of broadcast journalism, where swimming with the sharks is a
regular activity, much like riding the subway. But there's no need to
turn into a shark in order to succeed. Cindy Hsu, news anchor at CBS
Channel 2, is unofficially the nicest person in New York - and she is
doing quite well.
<http://www.jademagazine.com/images/21_cindy.jpg> Since joining CBS
in 1993, Cindy has won two Emmys. She currently anchors the news
three times a day during the week, at 12:30, 4:30, and 5:30.
Miraculously, Cindy also excels at creating a balanced life as a
whole, including donating her time and efforts as a volunteer to
various causes, supporting the Asian-American community, and
competing on the Women in Canoe team in international dragon boat
races. "My parents brought me up with two strong messages: 'Don't be
a quitter,' and 'Don't rush to find a husband. Be independent and
make your own way.'" Cindy explains. "Well, I've taken all those
lessons to heart. They've always supported the idea of having a
strong career and always being there for each other."
In a profession that tends to attract star personality types, Cindy's
down-to-earth attitude makes her a "rare bird," according to her co-
anchor at CBS, Michael Pomeranz. "She's just a wonderful, regular
person who just happens to be in TV."
The secret to Cindy's success as a reporter is her sincere interest
in people, and in their stories. Fellow journalist Juri Tatsuuma, at
News-12 in Westchester, says "What you see is what you get. A lot of
times in TV, you see these great people with these dynamic
personalities and million-dollar smiles, and the viewers think this
person is their best friend because they watch them every night and
they feel like they know you. I hate to say it, but more times than
not, when you meet them in person, they're so different. But with
Cindy -that smile, that warmth, that genuine nice-girl quality -
Cindy smiles a lot when talking about work. "The best parts of my job
are learning something new every day, and the teamwork," Cindy says.
Her role on the team is the cheerleader of the newsroom. And the
newsroom, to her, is like a family -- the ultimate compliment.
When asked about the Hsu family, she says, "We have a blast being
together and we're all very proud of each other...I'd use these words
to describe my family: loving, supportive, strong, dynamic, athletic,
adventurous, responsible and always there for each other."
The Hsus were a Coast Guard family, so they moved every two or three
years. Cindy was born in Honolulu and lived in nearly a dozen more
places as a child. Everyone stuck together and enjoyed each other's
company. Although her younger brother David recently took over the
combat dive school in Key West, Florida, he remembers a time when he
used to rely on his sister for protection from the big kids. "In Oxon
Hill, Maryland, we lived in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood
where there were not a lot of Asians. And I was a funny-looking kid --
I was tiny! Cindy was always standing up for me."
As a teenager, Cindy thought about a career as an Army pilot, a
doctor, and a fashion designer. But thanks to Connie Chung, she
decided that she wanted to join the news media. "Seeing Connie's face
on TV let me know that Asians were in the game. It gave me hope that
broadcast journalism was a realistic option for me."
Cindy majored in communication studies at Virginia Tech, where she
interned at a local television station. After she graduated in 1988,
Cindy took a job in communications for the state Alcoholic Beverage
Control Board. And on the weekends, she interned, unpaid, as an
associate producer at WTVR-TV in Richmond. She sent out tapes of her
on-air performances to stations around the country.
Cindy's persistence paid off, and she secured a job at WTOV-TV in
Steubenville, Ohio. She took a 50% pay cut to move to her first job
in journalism, but she knew that it would be worth it in the long
run. After two years in Ohio, Cindy moved on to WFRV-TV in Green Bay,
Wisconsin. In 1993, an agent in New York sought her out and she came
to New York. She credits mentors such as Carol Martin and Pat Battle
for helping her to grow and to learn the business.
Though Cindy grew up in an assortment of small towns and suburbs,
she's adapted extremely well to life in the big city. "Since New York
is so huge, it's actually more fun being a little fish in a big
pond." She enjoys the relative anonymity because there's "more
freedom to do whatever you want, since fewer people stop you in the
street. In a small town, news anchors are a big deal. In New York
City, you've got Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones walking
down the same street. So being on TV is nothing."
She loves watching foreign films and seeking out hole-in-the-wall
restaurants. Some of her favorite places to eat are Saigon Grill and
Empire Szechuan. Another one of her favorite things about New York is
the variety of cultural influences on everyday life. "The diversity
here is amazing. Not too many places where you can sit on the subway
and be surrounded by people reading newspapers in all different
languages. I love it!"
Living in such a multicultural environment helps Cindy to focus on
her Asian heritage. Like so many other first-generation Asian-
Americans, Cindy actively searches for that crucial balance between
her American identity and Asian background. "Well, I think I avoided
my Asian heritage until I came to New York. I'm finally in a place
where there is a strong Asian community, and we celebrate our
different cultures. So it's almost like coming home after years of
feeling like an outsider," she says candidly, "When you're a kid, all
you want to do is fit in, and that's a tough thing when you're the
only Asian family around and you have to move all the time to new
neighborhoods where no one looks like you. I'm now very involved in
the Asian community, and I'm learning a lot of things about our
culture that I missed as a child." Her recommendations to Asian
Americans: 1) support and promote each other, and 2) instill cultural
<http://www.jademagazine.com/images/21_hsu2.gif> Cindy has been
involved in the Asian-American community by donating her time in
several ways. Dr. Alex Tsui, who started APEX (Asian Professional
Extension), a mentoring program for urban Asian-American youth in New
York, met Cindy four years ago when APEX asked her to emcee for a
benefit. "When she found out about APEX, she volunteered to be a
mentor. She turned out to be really good. She developed a close bond
wih a student who's now at SUNY Binghampton. They'd bake cookies and
leave me prank calls on my machine," he recalls, "She taught her
student how to be an Asian American woman and stand on her own two
Cindy helps people whenever she can. Juri Tatsuuma recalls how Cindy
encouraged her when she was starting out as a journalist in 1995.
There was a national convention for AAJA (Asian American Journalists
Association) in Hawaii. During the CBS mentor breakfast, Juri
submitted a tape of herself, made by her on-air coach, to be
critiqued by news directors, agents, and vice presidents. "I got
slammed! I was ripped apart, humiliated! Looking back, I can laugh.
But at the time, I ran to the bathroom and cried. And I don't think
Cindy was even sitting at my table. But afterwards, she kept saying
to me: you had a lot of guts to even submit your tape." Juri
continues, "Because she's in TV, she could come across as
intimidating. But if she's at a party of VIPs, she'll hone in on the
person who wants to get into TV, the intern or the waitress."
Cindy is truly a team player, not just on land but on water. During
the summer, rain or shine, Cindy and the team Women in Canoe are out
rowing, either at practices in the local marina, or in regattas all
over the world.
They're busy year-round, too. In the off-season, the team stays busy
at poolside practices and strength-training sessions; and in April,
there's paddling camp in Florida. "I love the sport because it's all
about the whole team. One person can't win or lose it for you... we
have to do it together," says Cindy, "I don't know if the cultural
element of dragon boating got me started, but I appreciate its
history. Only three of my teammates are not Asian, which is rather
unique. When we go to regattas, almost all the other teams are
During dim sum in Queens, after practice, the coach, Elaine,
says, "CBS did a story on us when we were training for the last
Worlds. Cindy was on the show. And then we had practice. So right
when the show was over, she took off her makeup, ran out of the
studio, got on the train. She's committed!"
What's next for Cindy? Stay tuned. While Cindy is focused on enjoying
the present, Juri says, "She has so many better things down the pike
that she hasn't even fulfilled...there are bigger and better things
for her that are yet to come. She has staying power. she deserves all
the success she has...and more!"