Laurie McGraw is speaking with Inspiring Woman Nicquel Terry Ellis, CNN’s Race and Equality Senior Writer and an award-winning journalist.
Nicquel’s love for journalism started early as a staff writer for the high school newspaper where she covered protests on school dress code policy. Being extremely curious about what is happening in the world around her led to covering all the newsroom beats over the years. The coverage that matters the most to her, as a black woman living in America, is zeroing in on the issues of race and inequality. Today, Nicquel is the face and the voice for CNN’s race coverage. She gives voice to the voiceless.
Journalism may have become harder, but it is also clear that this is an important time. Nicquel’s drive has only become stronger in today’s culture war climate where issues like DEI are being unfairly weaponized. If people are going to take a position or have an opinion, she wants them to be grounded in facts.
As a black woman she is often reporting through that lens. Her reporting on the “glass cliff” talks about seeing many women being put into what might be seemingly exciting new DEI leadership positions, yet then not given the resources, the funding, or the support. Cleaning up a mess in a time of chaos leads to stress and burn out. Nicquel also discusses the intersectionality of being black and being a woman in the workplace where it is a real thing to have to work harder to earn your keep or prove your worth.
Doing this hard work requires energy and stamina. What keeps her going? Finding out the truth and telling the truth. Knowing people count on her for that. And for Nicquel, the best things in life do not come by staying in a comfort zone.
Nicquel Terry Ellis is an award-winning journalist who serves as the senior writer for CNN’s Race & Equality team. She joined CNN in November 2020 and much of her work focuses on the intersection of race and politics, health equity and the advancement of women of color.
Prior to joining the network, Ellis served as a national correspondent for USA TODAY covering race, inequality and activism. She led much of the newspaper’s coverage of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, and the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted across America. In 2020, she did a one-on-one interview with the mother of Tamir Rice ahead of what would have been his 18th birthday. Ellis also spent six years working in local news at The Detroit News and the Asbury Park Press. In 2018, she wrote an award-winning story about life for residents in one of Detroit’s most dangerous zip codes.
For CNN, Ellis led coverage of the fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022 and its impact on Black and brown women. Her stories have also shed light on missing people of color and the fight to get more attention on their cases. As the nation slowly reopened following the Covid-19 pandemic, Ellis covered the disparities in healthcare access that were laid bare. And in the summer of 2022, Ellis traveled to Jackson, MS where she covered the historic water crisis that left the majority-Black city without clean drinking water.
In addition to writing for CNN Digital, Ellis has made appearances on various shows including CNN New Day, CNN Newsroom and Early Start. She has also hosted podcast episodes for the CNN Political Briefing and Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction. Ellis is a five-time winner of the NABJ Salute to Excellence awards including an honor in 2022 for an interactive project on the maternal health crisis facing Black women. Ellis has been awarded twice by the New Jersey Press Association.
Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University. She lives in Atlanta with her husband Andre, daughter Harper and dog Chase.