With that awareness as her guide, alumna Markette Smith Sheppard (’02, B.A., mass communications/French minor) more than “shows up” each day as host of the Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate morning show “Great Day Washington,” or for her organic cosmetics e-boutique Messenger Beauty. She also inspires others to use their talents to impact the world in their own way.
“I haven’t always had a job where I was so excited to come to work, but I truly am now and I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Sheppard. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right skills to be able to do this job, and now I feel I am in complete alignment with my talents and with my goals in life. And for me, I like seeing that others who I come in contact with are trying to experience success in their lives as well.”
“Great Day Washington,” which first aired in September 2015 with Sheppard and cohost Chris Leary, is a lifestyle talk show that covers “a little bit of everything,” according to Sheppard.
It’s uplifting and inspiring. Our mission is to talk about all the things that are happening in our nation’s capital,”
said Sheppard, who also produces segments for the show. “We do fashion, and we do food almost every day. Celebrities come on, and we also get local people who are making an impact in society, or making a name for themselves. I find inspiration in all the types of guests who come on our show.”
Sheppard grew up in a “blue-collar, hard-working” family. She felt that going to college and enrolling at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) was “the best choice” for her. After graduating from CSUDH, Sheppard left the City of Carson, her hometown, for Washington, D.C. to attend American University where she earned a master’s degree in interactive journalism in 2007. She has been on the East Coast ever since building a successful career in journalism.
At the start of her career, she experienced a lot of competition in Washington, D.C. among those who graduated from top national and Ivy League universities, which is why she believes it’s critical to always “work toward your personal best.”
“What I learned working several jobs that I got through my Cal State Dominguez Hills degree is that if you show up on time, and if you bring your professionalism every single day, then you don’t even have to be the best,” said Sheppard, who paid her own way through college and lived on campus for one year.
Just always strive for your personal level of excellence, then you will succeed, because every day the competition is a competition with yourself. It’s all about topping your best.”
Before landing the gig on “Great Day Washington,” she was featured on such shows as NBC’s “TODAY Show,” and VH1’s national morning show, “Big Morning Buzz.” She was a top contestant for ABC’s “Live! with Kelly” “Coast to Coast Cohost Search” in 2012, and at the age of 30 was the youngest contestant to apply. She finished fourth in the nation before Michael Strahan was selected cohost.
“I feel like a lot of people say this, but I knew from a real young age—around 10 years old—that I wanted to get into television,” said Sheppard. “I would do these little news reports on a video camera on the front lawn about what was going on in our neighborhood. My dad was the camera man on one of them. We didn’t edit or do anything with them. I just wanted to be talking in front of the camera.”
Sheppard is most inspired by those who she feels a “light bulb” has gone off in their mind, from celebrities who use their fame for good to ambitious entrepreneurs who are trying to make their way in today’s competitive multimedia marketplace.
“It is those who realize that they have the power within to impact the world with whatever talents they may have who I get excited to talk to, because I know that feeling, too,” she said. “For instance, we had Fik-Shun [“So You Think You Can Dance” season 10 winner] on the show. He was judging a local high school talent show. I asked him what advice he had to share, and he said, ‘Get out there on stage and leave it all on the floor.’ I thought, ‘Yes, whatever you do, whatever your job is, you go to work and you put it all out there. So I felt that through dance he was able to inspire people. That’s significant.”
A Beautiful Messenger
As both host and a segment producer of “Great Day Washington,” Sheppard will often produce several stories a week for the show, which can be challenging when “several” turns into four or five. However, Sheppard is still able to find enough time to manage her growing website Messenger Beauty, which she launched in February 2015 to “inform, inspire and equip women everywhere with natural beauty products made from the best ingredients available in nature.”
“I’m so happy and I’m so proud of it [Messenger Beauty] because I’ve always had entrepreneurial spirit,” said Sheppard. “I like the idea of building something for myself, and I will never stop investing in myself. A job can lay you off, or a contract may not be renewed, but I know that I’m going to stick with me through thick and thin, and I feel that I now have a little bit more control over my destiny by launching something that I have created.”
Messenger Beauty is also a way for Sheppard to help inspire and promote entrepreneurship, particularly for women-owned companies and startup ventures, as well as those who develop and sell products that are not tested on animals, that come from vegan and/or organic sources, and that will not harm users in any way.
“Like most women, I like knowing that when I put on my makeup that I have a certain level of confidence regarding what’s going on my skin and into my system, which I often don’t have when I’m wearing a generic drug store brand,” said Sheppard. “It’s hard to be certain what some chemicals might do to one’s body. I put my [vegan, sugar-based] eyeliner right next to the opening of my eyelids, so if a little gets into my system I really don’t have to think twice about it. That is so important to me.”