Creating Her Own Lane | Access Hollywood’s Liz Hernandez

Author: Maria Mora

A wise one once said “opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” That’s exactly what Liz Hernandez has done. The Riverside, California native made a name for herself as a radio host on Big Boy’s Neighborhood morning show, and later took her talent on screen when she landed a hosting gig on Access Hollywood. Through compassion and hard work, Liz continues to demonstrate how to carry yourself graciously in an industry that has its fair share of gruesome moments.

Her dynamic personality and go-getter attitude has made her stand out not only within the Latino community, but in the world of journalism. Whether she's Snapchatting with Mariah Carey or spending quality time with her dog Albondigas, Liz's aura is one that sticks. We had the pleasure of speaking to Ms. Hernandez about her start in the industry, and how she's giving back.

Tell us what it was like growing up in Riverside, California.
I have great memories growing up in the I.E. not only with my family, but with my friends as well. I was fortunate enough to go to school with the same people from elementary to high school, so I've known my best friend since the 4th grade. Even though Riverside is big, it felt like a small town community. Everyone knew everyone and that was probably because we all went to same places; The Castle Park, Tyler Mall and Bakers. Those are all non-official landmarks that we hold sacred.

Was it challenging for you to go straight to television from radio? How do the two go hand in hand?
Luckily, I was able to take baby steps into television. I was hired by MTV in 2006, and that allowed me to get my feet wet while still working in radio. By the time I left morning drive radio in 2011, I was ready to focus on TV. The challenging part about this transition was going from being the radio vet to the TV rookie. I was starting all over in a new arena. Looking back, I will always be grateful for my radio career. It really taught me to be quick on my feet, and it was my breeding ground for television.

You’re a really big advocate for raising awareness about Alzheimer’s. How has your personal experience affected you?
Alzheimer's devastated me. I have never experienced heartbreak to this magnitude. When my mom’s memory began diminishing, I knew neither of us would be the same. However, I believe life’s pain gives you power. I decided not to sit around and let my mom suffer in vain. I needed to be her voice, and I want other families to know the warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I think most of us need a wakeup call so that we realize the importance of putting our mental and physical health above all else. What good are all the beautiful milestones and accomplishments we create in life if, in the end, we don’t have our memories?

Tell us about your most memorable interview to date.
I recently interviewed Sting. It’s a wild feeling being in the presence of a musical icon. I'd be embarrassed if he knew how many times I’ve listened to “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police in my lifetime.

Being a Latina woman, did you, at any point, face any adversity breaking into the media industry?
Being a Latina woman, the most adversity I've experienced was in my early radio days. In a meeting for our morning show, I was asked if I could sound “more Latina.” Needless to say, the question was insulting. As a first-generation Mexican-American and a woman, there is no playbook for how we are supposed to fit in with corporate America, so at times I felt like I was walking on a tight rope. I felt like being born in my brown skin didn't make me Latina enough for some people, because I didn't speak perfect Spanish and I wasn't immersed in everything that my parents grew up with. Sometimes, I felt like saying, "yes, I’m Mexican. Yes, my parents and my grandparents raised me with beautiful cultural traditions. Yes, I’m very proud of my upbringing, but I was born in America!" The fact that I haven’t perfected my second language doesn’t make me any less Latina.

“A healthy and growing relationship takes communication and teamwork. You can’t be happy together if you’re not happy individually."

What was the inspiration behind your interview series “How I Work?”
I created the interview series "How I Work" to help tell the stories of creative individuals. “The work” has two meanings: one being one’s work ethic, and the other being their personality traits. We all want to be successful in life, but in a generation where we are inundated with reality and social media stars, people want to find shortcuts. HIW was designed to inspire and motivate those willing to put in the hard work. I want to showcase the benefits of discipline and sacrifice from those who have experienced success.

What is the key to maintaining a healthy, growing relationship while succeeding in your careers as individuals?
I try not to give too much advice on the topic of personal relationships because every relationship is different, but I will share two of my beliefs. First, to even begin a healthy relationship, it takes two people who are both wanting and willing to put in the work. A healthy and growing relationship takes communication and teamwork. Secondly, you can’t be happy together if you’re not happy individually.

If you could have lunch with any powerful woman alive, who would it be and why?
Oprah. Why? Everything she has created has a message and a source of inspiration behind it. It’s no coincidence that she is so loved, especially by women. At some point in your life, she has evoked emotion in you and made you think twice. I have about a million questions I would ask her.

What is currently on rotation in your music library?
Currently, I have about 4 albums I keep in rotation: Miguel's Wildheart, Drake's Views, Adele's 25 and Ed Sheeran's X.

How do you envision your next 5 years to look like?
Better, stronger and wiser.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
A confident woman who celebrates her strengths.

Photos by: Emilio Sanchez