TV Anchor Shatters Stereotypes

By dressing how she wants on-air, journalist Jana Shortal is redefining what it means to look like a TV anchor. đź‘”She spoke with Brut about LGBTQ representation and living authentically.

Gay TV Anchor Shatters Stereotypes

Journalist Jana Shortal is embracing her true self on camera — shattering perceptions of what a TV anchor should look like. It’s a big change from when she started. Shortal also wasn’t publicly out — worried that viewers wouldn’t accept her. The majority of women had a certain kind of haircut. Being blonde seemed a pretty good route to go. Earrings, lots of makeup, and then you could just go to any number of department stores and ask for suits that TV news anchors would wear. Jana was able to attain jobs and was able to pursue the career she wanted to pursue. At that time, she didn't realize how much damage she was doing to herself by doing it.

“People have told me I'm not supposed to wear “fill in the blank” my whole life and I'm just not going to listen anymore. I didn't know any gay women on TV. Like, I don't know Rachel Maddow, and I don't know Ellen DeGeneres. And I didn't know anybody beyond that that was openly gay as a female. This was in the early 2000s. It still felt unsafe to me to be that. I thought people wouldn't like me if they knew I was gay. And then at some point, not being yourself, for me, it became unsustainable.”

Shortal came out about her sexuality to family and friends — and discovered the empowerment of living authentically while breaking stereotypes and changing the world around her. The on-air change happened in 2016, when she became a co-anchor for a new show at the NBC affiliate station in Minneapolis. Shortal started wearing her natural curly hair —and dressing how she really wanted to. She shares her inspriing story hoping to increase LGBTQ representation on TV and help others struggling with identity issues.