Exclusive: Journalist Mariana Atencio On Her New Book & Being Unapologetically Latina

Photo Courtesy of Mariana Atencio.
Journalist Mariana Atencio is coming out with a new memoir to be published this summer, Refinery29 can exclusively report. Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, out June 11, chronicles Atencio's journey from her native Venezuela to becoming one of the most prominent Latinx faces in TV news.
"If this can inspire one Latina and create a butterfly effect, that's enough. That's why I wrote this book," the MSNBC and NBC News reporter told Refinery29. "Necesitamos más de nuestras voces and the only way to do that is to be unapologetically us."
Atencio, 34, first arrived to the U.S. in 2008 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. From there she worked her way up to becoming an anchor for Fusion TV and Univisión, before landing her a job at NBC News in 2016. In her role as a reporter there, she's covered everything from the 2016 presidential election and the family separation crisis at the border to natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Despite the often dark nature of some of the stories she covers, Atencio has been known to keep a sunny disposition, which is best embodied by the #GoLikeMariana hashtag she uses to connect with her audience on social media. Perfectly You is a continuation of that. The memoir will be published both in English and Spanish, a decision Atencio said is meant to honor both of her audiences. It covers her experience as a young 20-something immigrant building her career, finding love, crossing over from Spanish to English media, and her father's death as a consequence of the health crisis in Venezuela. At the core of the memoir, however, are her reporting experiences. "I've met people going through the worst circumstances," she said, "and they've taught me the resilience of the human spirit."
Atencio also spoke frankly about how her transition to NBC in 2016, as someone whose first language is not English, led to bouts of self-doubt. She said: "I was asking myself, 'Am I really qualified for this? There's not a lot of people around me who look like me, speak like me, or cover the same stories.'" This was due, in part, to the overwhelming lack of diversity in newsrooms across the U.S. According to a 2018 report by the Women’s Media Center, women of color made up about 13% of staff at local television stations, just under 8% of staff at print publications , and roughly 6% of staff at radio stations. But Atencio said that as she struggled with her impostor syndrome, she received an overwhelming support from young people from underrepresented communities.
"There are not enough of our voices in our newsrooms and our TV sets," she said. "Those young people were not expecting me to be perfect, they were just expecting me to reflect who I am with my accent, my name, and my stories." The memoir is also for them. She added: "After 10 years in media and finally 'making it,' whatever that means, I know I don't want to blend in."
You can pre-order Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real, published by Harper Collins, here.
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