First-ever Hmong male news anchor in US almost brought to tears on his debut by surprise video message

Chenue Her news anchor

This week, Chenue Her became the first Hmong male news anchor in the U.S.

Making history: On Oct. 4, Her experienced his first day as an anchor for WOI-TV Local 5 News in Iowa and was surprised by an encouraging video message from his long-time friend, fellow journalist and role model Gia Vang, according to Kare 11.

  • Vang is the U.S.’ first-ever Hmong news anchor and covers the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota.
  • “I am thrilled for your new adventure back in the Midwest, just a short drive from your hometown here in the Twin Cities. Over the years I have watched you grow and thrive in this industry, and I felt your support being two of the very few TV news journalists who are Hmong,” she said in the recording. “Now you’re making history as the first Hmong male news anchor in the country. Haib kawg nkaus.”
  • Her explained that he was on the verge of tears when he saw her message because she was integral in helping him find his way into the industry.

  • On Friday, their exchange was shared on “CBS Mornings,” with CBS correspondent Vladimir Duthiers chiming in to say that “underrepresented people need to be seen and to have people see them.”
  • Her was in awe over the feature and tweeted that it was “surreal” that they would cover his story as “a Hmong kid from St. Paul, MN.”

Man of the hour: Her’s extensive background in journalism was part of what landed him the job. Having been at KEZI-TV in Oregon, covered breaking news in Virginia and worked at WXIA-TV in Atlanta before arriving at WOI-TV, he was the clear choice for WOI-TV’s President and General Manager David Loving.

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  • Adding Her to the team was also a move to represent Iowa’s growing immigrant population.
  • It wasn’t always a direct shot to get to where Her is now. The journalist’s parents are Hmong refugees who had their doubts about him wanting to pursue a career in TV news, as there weren’t any Hmongs in that role before Vang.
  • During job interviews, Her claimed stations would ask if he was willing to change his first name. When he refused, he did not land the jobs.
  • “For the first time in a long time, my dad said he was proud of me,” Her told Axios. “I’m 30, but like, that still means so much to me.”
  • Her added that his team allows him to be his “true, authentic” self.
  • Vang later spoke about all the positive attention their interaction received and said, “I think the reaction it’s getting speaks to how representation truly does matter to not just the community, but the country. Dream even if you’re a Hmong kid from St. Paul or a Hmong kid from south Sacramento.”
  • Her wants to cover more news about immigrants and refugees to “show they’re a fabric of this community and [that] their stories deserve to be told.” 
  • The Hmong people didn’t have a written form of their language until the ‘50s, so Her said that it was in his DNA to be fascinated by such stories.

Featured Image via Chenue Her (left, right)

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