A born storyteller’s dedication leads to a dream job
In 2014, Journalism grad Pooja Handa became the Co-host of CP24 Breakfast, the station’s signature daily morning broadcast. Watching her at work, Pooja seems like a natural, whether it’s interviewing guests from all walks of life, delivering the day’s headlines or leading a Friday morning dance party. She’s funny, elegant and poised. But Pooja will be the first to tell you that coming across well on camera isn’t easy. It requires years of hard work.
“The people that make it look so easy are usually those who do the most work behind the scenes,” says Pooja. “I watch playbacks of each broadcast and always think about why I asked a certain question or what I’m going to change next time.”
Pooja has been working for 12 years, starting right after her graduation from Seneca and York. She completed a Journalism diploma and Women’s Studies degree in four years. (Most do it in five.) Her first job as a traffic reporter resulted from an unpaid internship. Like now, her work ethic at Seneca was off the charts: she was always volunteering for internships, constantly evaluating her performance and learning all angles of the industry.
“I loved being at Seneca. It didn’t feel like work,” says Pooja. “Being in an editing bay, on camera and writing were all exciting. And we constantly had guest lecturers, telling us what it was like in the business.”
Pooja knew early in life her career would be in front of a camera. Her first love was acting, which she studied in high school and then at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. As a child, Pooja would deliver imaginary traffic reports to her dad from the back seat of the car. Storytelling was a big part of her family life growing up, and it’s instrumental to her career today.
“At a very young age, probably at the annoyance of everybody in my life, I loved telling stories,” says Pooja. “The best part of my job is that I get to be myself, have a ton of fun, and tell people in the city what’s going on, maybe give them a chuckle to start off their day.”
Connecting with CP24’s many viewers each morning isn’t a responsibility Pooja takes lightly. For her, it’s also a tribute to those media personalities who came before, at a time when on-air diversity was not as prevalent.
“Growing up, it was really hard to find people who looked like me on TV,” she remembers. “When I saw people like Monica Deol and Suhana Meharchand, I thought, ‘Wow, these woman are me. If they can do it, I can do it.”
Follow Pooja @poojahandatv