Last year, I was traveling through Newark International Airport and, as usual, passed by multiple TV screens showing commercials, sports shows, and/or news. Normally I would ignore it all, but something caught my eye in the background. A young Black woman appeared on the screen advising on the best time to book a hotel (advice I could have used prior to my travel).
It was a part of CNBC’s “One Minute Money Hacks” segment and the presenter was a former classmate and teammate of mine back in college, Ennica Jacob.
Ennica Jacob is a rising star in the media industry. A credited writer, producer and journalist. This media talent already has a decorated career and she is just getting started.
Last month, I was able to sit down with her and discuss how far she has come in her career and how far she intends to go. Originally from Irvington, New Jersey, the Haitian-American woman received an academic and track scholarship to attend Saint Peter’s University. Her major was Criminal Justice with the goal of becoming a homicide detective. That aspiration changed during her time at school.
She recalls constantly debating her professor in her Criminal Ethics class.
“Your ethics are going to be different than my ethics are going to be different than my ethics because I come from a different walk of life than you do….”
Critics of the U.S. criminal justice system have described it as rigid and biased towards those in marginalized communities.
Jacob believes that rigidity and bias made her question her original career path.
“… There will be gray areas because of people’s inherent bias, prejudice, or straight-up racism or power structure. There’s always going to be something that can hinder the criminal justice system, and being in that class showed that and made that very apparent to me,” she told Slice of Culture.
This revelation was disappointing to Jacob. She wanted to help people but how could she contribute in a manner that she deemed helpful and would utilize her talents?
A close friend of hers suggested she should look into investigative journalism. Listening to her friend, she decided to take some communication elective courses – it turned out she loved writing, but also loved using her people skills to gather information.
She was later accepted to the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY). Her people skills were put to the test one summer when she interned for the New York Daily News working primarily as a Metro Reporter. She was also able to pen two front-page stories and covered daily breaking news.
“It definitely fed my criminal Justice side..”she said “A lot of the stuff I was doing as a metro reporter had to do with communities. So there were stabbings, robberies, housing disputes….You had to talk to neighbors, store clerks, or people in the area.”
She goes on to speak about the importance of communication with community members.
“I wanted to get their story. I wanted to let them be heard. I felt that they are just as important and you won’t believe how people take that with so much grace and kindness,” she added.
Despite her undergraduate history in Criminal Justice, her concentration in graduate school was entertainment and pop culture.
“I just had a love for everything that had to do with music and film, pop culture and art…. I love everything that encompasses history in the sense of what we ingest with our eyes and our mouth and our sensations. That entertainment is something we ingest daily,” she said.
Her passion later led her to opportunities such as studying a semester in Paris – albeit during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. France is considered the largest hip-hop market in the world, and she was going to make a documentary about the evolution of hip hop – a topic that was important to her because of her fervent love for the art form.
Jacob believed shooting this documentary was a chance to use what she had learned to complete this project.
“That was me trying to use my investigative skills, my charisma, How do I source information? That was me being investigative… I kind of used everything in my holster of tricks,” Jacob said.
The experience allowed her to meet and tell the story of different artists from puppeteers to painters. She also explored the difficulty that they had getting inspiration in a world where everything was shut down. Ennica personally saw peacefulness in the process. She was able to see Paris naked without tourism or any distractions.
“You got to see the allure of the city without the congestion of it all,” she said.
She made contacts with artists, learned about the people and fell even more in love with the genre of music she has loved her whole life.
But there was more.
Ennica was used to writing about the experiences of everyday people in New York, artists and entertainers in Paris. Prior to graduating, she made a film called “The Never Ending Lap” – a title that plays on the metaphor of her track background and was a piece that documented her personal sexual trauma and how Black women can break the cycle of sexual trauma.
Jacob wanted to use her personal experience with coping mechanisms to help others with their own healing process.
“I definitely went through my trials and tribulations… I went through all the emotions of trying to deal with it,” she emphasized.
She described partying and drinking early on in her processing of the trauma. However, her passion for video creation provided a positive outlet to help her with her healing
“I needed to share my story, It’s an everyday process…. It’s unsettling to talk about but it’s easier to talk about it every time. So you have to give yourself grace and take the time to really understand yourself and process what you went through… It’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to be nice and clean… But it’s necessary. I think everybody deserves kindness and grace. …,” she added.
Upon graduation and receiving her masters, she worked as a freelance tech writer for Business Insider. In January of 2022, she started the position of associate producer at CNBC’s Make It.
In this position, she wrote stories and produced segments on providing financial literacy advice to millennials and stories about up-and-coming entrepreneurs and their business success.
She talked about what she wanted the video series to focus on.
“I am very thankful for that moment so that’s why I was really trying to focus on people who look like me.. Who also were doing a very good job at their age for investing their money…also going after their passions taking the risks financially to really expand themselves,” she explained.
One of the first stories she produced was about Lauren Simmons, a young black woman who, at 22, was the youngest full-time female trader on Wall Street. The 28-year-old now is the host of the streaming series “Going Public.”
One piece of financial advice she learned from her time at CNBC is “As much as you think you want it, you probably don’t need it.”
Today, Jacob has found her way back to her passion for entertainment journalism. She is currently the Social Media producer at TVInsider.com.
She’s recently interviewed the stars of the FX hit series “Dave” actress Chloe Bennet and Gata. The subjects of the interviews were about representation and mental health – two themes present in her work since she started her young career.
Jacob looks back at everything she has done and credits her mental fortitude and belief in herself to get to where she is now.