A Full Heart

Sonya Hill shows that a positive attitude and determination can help you achieve your dreams.

By: Kathleen Naderer
Photos by: MC Studio Workz

Wardrobe provided by Brooks Brothers at the Outlets at Corpus Christi Bay

If you have ever watched Action 10 News or Telemundo, you likely recognize Sonya Hill. Her upbeat personality and passion for her community have distinguished Hill throughout her journey in TV news. Hill recalled growing up in Sandia, a small town near Orange Grove, and watching the news anchors on television. She admired how intelligent and glamorous they were – and people looked up to them! She knew back then that she wanted to join her idols onscreen.

She even wrote about this dream job for a class assignment during junior year of high school. When she shared this ambition with others, encouragement was often tempered by caution. With the implication that people need far more money and connections than she had in order to succeed in television, Hill began looking at different career options.

She nevertheless remained tenacious in pursuing her dream. She took the initiative to join as many community organizations as possible, and her friendly demeanor made it easy to network and build contacts. When she heard that KZTV needed someone who was bilingual and a good communicator, Hill knew she had to apply.

She joined the KZTV family as a weather reporter in 2014. Only 22 years old at the time, Hill was already making impressive strides. “I feel really lucky that people responded to me the way that they did,” she said.

Her fans and followers on social media appreciate her genuine connection with the Coastal Bend community, and the way she embraces her South Texas roots with a full heart. In turn, Hill strives to provide accurate and up-to-date information for both her English- and Spanish-speaking audiences.

Hill’s knack for platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter has made her even more approachable to viewers. She also prides herself on her ability to address people from every generation, from Baby Boomers to Millennials, and values her strong ties to the vibrant Hispanic community in the area.

Hill believes that a good attitude and willingness to engage with people builds trust between news stations and viewers. “We’re very much living in the age of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts,’ so people are reaching for something that’s real,” Hill explained. “If you give them something that’s real, they appreciate it.”

Since her first segment, Hill has firmly found her footing among the KZTV, KRIS and Telemundo staff as the youngest news anchor in the Coastal Bend. She credits the mentorship of the veteran journalists she works with, including Andy Liscano and Stephania Jimenez, for helping her adjust so well to her new role. “These people are like my family,” she said, praising her co-workers. “I really love them.”

Together, Hill and the rest of KZTV, KRIS and Telemundo weathered Hurricane Harvey. “Harvey has been the most emotional experience,” Hill said. During coverage of the storm, Hill recognized an urgent need to share people’s stories. She stepped out of the weatherperson role she had comfortably played these past three years and took up the mantle of field reporting. Learning how to report and edit the stories of those affected by Hurricane Harvey was challenging, but Hill knew it needed to be done.

 

Although covering the hurricane was frightening, especially when communication was temporarily lost, Hill knew that the work journalists were doing to draw attention to and get aid for the Texas coast was vital.

“I’ve never been so proud of all the news anchors, reporters, video editors, photographers and all the people who work in media here in the Coastal Bend as I was during and after Harvey. I’ve never seen people with so much fire in them.”

For an additional challenge that month, KZTV was simultaneously undergoing a complete rebranding of their news station. Viewers who were used to the more lighthearted and entertainment-focused nature of the previous incarnation may need time to adjust to the more traditional reporting format KZTV is now using.

But Hill encourages long-time viewers to give it a chance. She believes the Action 10 staff will continue to shine. “There’s a different tone, but it’s the same product and the same people,” she said. This change has also given Hill what she always dreamed about: her own spot at the anchor desk.

While she is thrilled at the path her life has taken, it isn’t always an easy one. Adapting to life as a public figure was difficult, especially when dealing with negative or cruel comments. Strangers may stereotype and look down on her as “just a pretty weather girl,” but Hill’s love for her job has given her the strength to persevere. “I had to become thick-skinned,” she said. “I had to learn to take everything with a grain of salt because otherwise, it will break you down.”

Another huge source of strength for her is her family and her wonderful support system, especially her father and her son. Raising a child while working fulltime is demanding, yet caring for her young son, James, has motivated her to continue growing and maturing in her career.

To young girls with big dreams, Hill offers this advice: “Don’t listen to the naysayers. You can’t just sit around and wait for an opportunity; you have to search for it. Life is about being proactive.”

Watch Sonya Hill on KZTV or Telemundo for weather and news updates. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @sonyahilltv or on Facebook at @SonyaHillKZTV.