With Afea Tucker
The SUN Spotlight is all about people who are pivoting through crisis and thriving during this new normal. They are the do- gooders and the connectors. Through their hard work, they are keeping us united, encouraged, and going strong.
We kick this column off with a one on one with the multi-talented Aunyea Lachelle.
An entertainment and lifestyle reporter, Lachelle is the host of NBC 10’s “Philly Live” and “Philly Live Weekends,”a virtual hangout and Facebook Livestream series produced in partnership with Visit Philadelphia. She also serves as a weekly guest on their new podcast, “Love and Grit.”
Like all of us, Lachelle has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet her inspiration from others is what encourages her to continue the work that she does during this global crisis.
“I personally know people who have lost their jobs, who have no idea what they’re going to eat the next day,” she said. “People who don’t know how they are going to continue to pay their rent. This pandemic affects everyone.”
“It doesn’t matter what your economical class is, your race, or health condition, anyone can catch it [the novel coronavirus] and so I think what inspires me is knowing that God blessed me with an opportunity of a lifetime,’’ she continued.
Facing a pandemic shift
“I have this platform — the show “Philly Live,” which just relaunched after being on hiatus since the end of March because of the pandemic,” Lachelle said. “Our station felt like they had to provide the news that was needed at the time and so we focused all of our efforts on news coverage. Even I had to shift gears and became a general assignment reporter for our station. I was covering COVID-19, battling it on the front lines like all of the other reporters for six weeks.” .
“Not only was it my first time doing that type of job, but it was in the middle of the craziest times of American history and even world history,” she continued. “That alone was tough for me, so I can only imagine how tough it was for all of the other people that had to deal with not just the job shift, but a life shift.” .
“So again it inspires me to know that God blessed me with an opportunity, and who am I to take that for granted?” said Lachelle. “I cherish this role and it’s a very positive role. It means a lot to be able to spread joy and tell positive stories.”
“Feel good” news
Aunyea Lachelle delivers information of inspiration.
“I share information about businesses who have found a way to stay open whether it is virtually, curbside, or pick up, and communities who are doing things to inspire their neighbors, like hanging rainbows in their windows for the kids who go on walks with their parents, to people who are giving back to our frontline workers, and providing meals for healthcare staff,” said Lachelle.
“It’s important to note and it is important for people to see,” she continued. “If they see it, they believe it, and maybe that may spark a light in them to do the same thing. Find a way that they can give back. That’s what’s really inspiring to me. It is other people’s stories and their struggles,” she said. “Moreso, finding the light within their struggles.”
New show same concept
“ “Philly Live” was built on being a digital show first,where people can watch and access us from all platforms, whether it’s linear or through social media,” Lachelle said. “So we kept that same concept, but rather than actually going to the restaurants and the new shops and the bars and [highlighting] nightlife, we’re highlighting businesses and communities that have been adjusting and pivoting in the wake of COVID-19.”
Philly Live came back Thursday May 7, right ahead of Mother’s Day.
““We had two special Mother’s Day episodes and teamed up with the Ellen Show on NBC to give away some fantastic prizes to local moms,” Lachelle said. “We also did local moms “shoutouts.”
Exploring West Girard Avenue
“Right now I’m working on a piece on West Girard Avenue, which I feel like doesn’t get enough TV time, and that’s really why I think God placed me in this role,” Lachelle said. “Because I’m from Philly and I get Philly — not just mainstream Philly, but the heart of the city. The true neighborhoods that make up our fabric. I have an opportunity to finally share their stories. They are not on the news because of anything negative, they are on the news for positive stories and I love that.”
The features on West Girard Avenue include highlights from Spot Burger, Cultivaire, a new plant shop, and Butter’s Soul Food, one of the oldest businesses on West Girard Avenue.
“I even went to a tap studio and they are hosting virtual tap-dancing classes,” Lachelle said. “I spoke with people who are giving back, frontline workers, and local food truck company, Stuffed Buns, who’ve pivoted to survive and created a fund to donate food to local hospitals.”
Banding together to keep the show going
“The beauty is [that] “Philly Live” never went away. Because we’re digital first, we still had an online presence through our partnership with Visit Philly. It was ongoing through “Philly Live Weekends.”
People tuned into the virtual hangouts on Visit Philadelphia’s website, NBC10.com or Philly Live Facebook group to watch every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Episodes included cooking lessons with top Philly chefs, dance classes, inspirational words and musical performances.
“That’s been going on since the pandemic started and it’s still going on,” said Lachelle. “I’m also a weekly guest on Visit Philly’s Love and Grit podcast.”
Lachelle joined the podcast around the time she started her general assignment reporting for NBC10.
“When “Philly Live” came back, they still wanted me to continue my weekly appearances. It was great because I can talk more about what we do [on Philly Live],” she continued. “We need positive news right now people need to be inspired they need messages of hope.”
A message of hope
“One of the main things that I’ve noticed was that during this pandemic and working in the pandemic firsthand, is that human connection is so vital,” Lachelle said. “You would think something that’s physically keeping us apart would also keep us spiritually apart, but it hasn’t. If anything, so many people have stepped up and showed out to help others and I love that.”
“Humanity is not lost, and I think this pandemic hit at a peak when there was such a racial divide and economic divide in our society,” she concluded. “It sort of came right at the peak of all of that, and it’s proving that we are bigger than that, and so much more than that, and to see people coming together — even though we are physically apart — is beautiful.”