Jasmine Sanders, co-host of The DL Hughley Show

Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate these various personalities with us.

You’ve heard her on the radio. You’ve laughed with her on TV. Jasmine Sanders is a self-proclaimed media maven known for her commanding voice, warm spirit and infectious personality. She has become a multi-media powerhouse, working as a host in various industries ranging in radio, television, and entertainment.

Ranked in the Top 3 of nationally-syndicated Black female personalities, Sanders captivates audiences around the world through hope and humor. She currently dominates the airwaves alongside comedian and actor, D.L. Hughley, as co-host of the top-ranked, nationally syndicated “The D.L. Hughley Show.”

With over 3.5 million weekly listeners the show can be heard in 65 markets nationwide. Her podcast “Brunch Therapy with Jasmine Sanders” is an authentic, relatable conversation about issues that everyone can relate to and is being developed for a televised talk show format.

Sanders has appeared as a correspondent/co-host for HLN and BET and featured as a music expert and pop-culture pundit for Billboard Magazine, WTFV/CBS News Channel 5 and WTVC/ABC News Channel 9.

She is the recipient of many career achievement awards, including being named at the top of Girl’s Incorporated’s “Most Influential Women” list and recognition by NABFEME (National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment). Sanders has also been known for hosting high profile events, such as The D.L. Hughley Friends and Family Tour and Radio One’s Women’s Empowerment Conference.

Sanders is very passionate in her work as a youth mentor and bringing awareness to the subject of adoption. Her own compelling story of her journey in foster care, adoption, teenage pregnancy and surviving domestic abuse creates a platform for her to help women all over the world. Sanders works with the some of the “aged out” young women at the Tennessee chapter of Youth Villages, a non-profit that provides help for children and young people across the United States who face a wide range of emotional, mental and behavioral problems.

With her “Jasmine Cares” initiative, she plans to mentor and motivate young women who have lost their will to dream. She is also working diligently on starting an annual charity event to reduce fees for people who want to adopt but are deterred by the initial cost through her “Adopted and Winning” initiative.

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?A singer!! Lol…  I wanted to be a singer so badly. I practiced day and night. Then, I got the chance to sing at church and realized I couldn’t sing at all.  I was devastated. I was like, what am I supposed to do now? It’s crazy how I ended up using my voice professionally anyway–just not melodically.  I’d like to think I would have given Beyonce a real run for her money if I had the singing gene. But then again, who am I fooling.

How did You get into Radio? After college graduation, I chose the radio station where I wanted to work. I drove there every day (about 40min each way so I had to cheat a vending machine for gas money) just to sit in the lobby hoping to meet the Program Director. I sat for hours with no luck. I was told they weren’t hiring but I didn’t give up. I kept showing up each day. Everyone kept telling me how crazy I was but I didn’t allow that to hinder me and my goal.  It took almost 2 weeks but I finally got an interview and landed my first radio gig. My tactics have changed, but I still have that same determination and persistence.

Who Were Your Mentors? Mentors? Let me think about that for a second… You know growing up I really didn’t have a mentor so I looked to people that I saw on TV or heard on the radio. No one, that I knew of, in my hometown aspired to be a broadcaster so I studied radio and TV personalities– like Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey. I mimicked them and figured if I just did what they did, I would be successful.  Once I got in the industry, I had several mentors. One of the greatest was a guy named Mel Jones from Memphis, TN. He taught me so much about the industry including the pitfalls to avoid. 

Biggest Achievement? I don’t think I’ve achieved it yet! I hope to eventually be great in all the things I am passionate about—becoming an author, having my own TV show, establishing a foundation that helps foster kids and kids who have been adopted. It’s funny when people ask about your greatest accomplishment.

It’s a tricky question to me because if you say what your greatest accomplishment is — what are you trying to accomplish now? I want all of my work to be great. I want to have a list of greats. I think that’s more important and leaves a more lasting legacy that impacts your community and the people who need it the most.

Biggest Disappointment? My biggest disappointment? From a professional standpoint my biggest disappointment is a lot of times people are not who they say they are, and it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing when you watch people talk about how they believe in solidarity and they believe in you know working together in Sisterhood or Brotherhood and then you meet them and they’re the opposite. They’re narcissistic and selfish and you did not expect that. From a personal standpoint my biggest disappointment is that my parents didn’t live long enough to watch me fly.

I would’ve liked for them to see for themselves. I know everyone says they are with you in spirit but I would’ve liked to see their faces as they watch me on TV and listen to me on the radio. To see and read all the interviews that I’ve done so that they could’ve seen that they made a good investment. I think it’s a true thing when you decide to take in a child in, it is a gamble.

So it can be risky and you are hoping that you do all of the right things to make sure they know that although you did not give birth to them that they are loved and that that love somehow allows them the courage and the willpower to go after whatever dreams and goals they want to accomplish.

I think any parent would love to see their child become successful and become all of the things that you wish for them when they’re babies. My parents didn’t get me when I was a baby, but I’m sure there were times when they looked into my five-year-old eyes and wondered what she will be when she’s 25…what will she be when she’s 35 and so on. I would have loved for them to say “that’s my daughter, look at her.”

I wanted to give back to them, I feel like they gave me what they didn’t have to and that was a loving home and just love itself in the best way that they knew. I wanted to show them that I came out alright, better than all right, and so I hate that they were never here to see it and to really understand it. I would have loved to have been on stage with my parents in the audience so they could see how the crowd would react to me. In the midst of roaring laughter and applause, they’re applauding their baby! I regret that.

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What are Your Biggest Pet Peeves? Mispronounced words… People who don’t mind their own business in order to be messy makes me mad. People telling me what I can’t do makes me mental. Should I continue? I have so many. Name droppers make me mental; people who think they’re better than other people make me mental; condescending people and bullies. I guess that’s enough…Mansplaining makes me mental. Mistreatment of children and human beings, but especially children and the elderly make that makes me mental, people who go after the underdog. I guess I could go on and on

Predictions for Radio over the next decade I think it will always be around. I just believe that the way radio is executed will change tremendously and unfortunately. Radio – it’s free and you like it, and even if you don’t use it often in your car, you like knowing that it’s there, you have never bought a car that didn’t have a radio in it, you just wouldn’t do it. Even if you can hook up your phone, you still want the radio.

I believe the industry will move more towards syndicated radio and less local, which I tend to have a love-hate relationship with because at one time in my career I was a local radio personality and I don’t know what I would have done if that opportunity hadn’t been there for me. I think you always need local radio in order to cultivate new talent.

Otherwise, there’s no way I could have jumped in fresh out of college and started doing syndicated radio. You have to cut your teeth somewhere and that tends to be on the local level, in a local market. The other thing is, I think that there is an importance of knowing what’s going on in your community and local radio does that. We try to recreate it on a syndicated level and we do the best that we can. So, I think that syndicated radio is great, I think definitely has done a lot for the industry and I think it is just a natural kind of evolution of things.

However, I believe you have to always leave room for local. It’s almost impossible to super serve all of the market at the same time. There’s no way I’m going to know about an important High School game or an important event going in the community center or that Miss Johnson needs a babysitter or that someone needs a new pair of shoes.

There’s no way to know all of those things locally in every market in the country with syndication… it’s impossible! So, I can’t do away with local radio. It’s not a good idea.

Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People? Actually, I think people might be surprised that in college I took a job selling knock-off perfume. I only took the job because all of my friends were doing it and it looked fun.  So, I took the job but only worked one day. It was clearly a scam kind of job. The guy told me and the other students that we would be ‘managers in the field’. I was excited until he dropped us off alone in a small town an hour away from campus. Told us to sell all the perfume in our boxes and he’d be back in 3 hours to pick us up.  When he came back, I was sitting in the parking lot of a car dealership with the entire box of perfume. I cussed him.

Do You Talk to Yourself? Yes! everyday all day and I encourage people to talk to themselves too! It’s the best way to get to know yourself! I talk to myself in the morning, I talk to myself in the shower, I talk to myself when I’m in the car, and yes, I answer myself. I’ll ask myself questions like, are you really going to eat all that? I’ve learned so much about myself this way.

I realize how silly, greedy, funny and self-centered I can be. It’s hard to lie to yourself. If more people talked to themselves, I think we would have less problems because I think when I try to tell you something about your personality, you don’t believe it, so you fight me on it. If I try to say something to you about how you can be mean, you don’t believe it because you really don’t know yourself.

I think the hardest thing is to accept is a truth about yourself but if you are talking to yourself in the moment you may realize you were wrong or right. Sometimes I can’t wait to get by myself so I can talk to myself and you know what else? if you want to keep a secret tell yourself.

What do You Wish You Had More Time For? I wish I had more time to travel. I wish I had more time to spend with my friends and my family. And I wish I had time to do more charitable work. Doing those types of things is what really blesses your life and adds all of the colors to it. Not doing those things is when you start to realize that you’re working all the time and not really enjoying the fruits of your labor. I don’t want my life to be all work and no play.

Follow Jasmine:

Instagram @iamjasminesanders

Facebook IamJasmineSanders

Twitter @JasmineSanders