We always hear it's best to "be yourself," but what does that actually mean? In the case of WSVN weeknight anchor Belkys Nerey, it means ditching the format's usual puffed-up hair and grim banter to be one of the most memorable people on local TV.
The Cuban-born 46-year-old has a pixie haircut and a sultry voice with a slight Miami accent. When you meet her, she's exactly as you'd expect.
"People always say that to me," she says. "I don't know how to be any other way."
Nerey spent the first nine years of her life on Long Island and then moved to Miami, where she studied journalism and communications at Florida International University.
"When I graduated from school, I was so driven. I was determined to be on TV at any cost." So she worked at a tiny cable station in Hialeah, juggling a notebook, camera, and microphone, and then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, to work as a TV news reporter. She returned to Miami in 1994 to join WSVN as a reporter.
It was a big year in Miami, and Nerey covered the exodus of tens of thousands of balseros on rafts from Cuba, as well as the threat of military intervention in Haiti. A couple of years later, she was front and center for the ValuJet crash in the Everglades. "I traveled all the time," she says. "Being out there, being on the street, is a lot of fun."
But she's been safely behind a desk for the past several years. After a stint hosting the evening style program Deco Drive, she snagged the anchor job alongside her longtime "TV husband," Craig Stevens. She usually arrives at work at "3-ish," pays a visit to the people in the newsroom, reads the day's story rundown, and heads to the makeup room, "the most important place at Channel 7." She's on the air for the 5, 6, 10, and 11 p.m. broadcasts.
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She doesn't do too much street reporting anymore, but the station did send her overseas for Prince William's wedding, going live every day at 4 a.m. "I've never worked so hard in my life," she says. She did the same for the deaths of Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II. But there's still one place she'd like to revisit: "I wish I had gone to Cuba to cover something."
Bilingual, fashionable, and sharp, Nerey has become an emblem of Miami.
"I grew up in this town," she says. "My friends from high school are still my friends. I love my life."
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