One on One with Deco Drives Shireen Sandoval-Cover Shoot
By Angela Betancourt
Keeping track of all the entertaining things happening in South Florida is not for the faint of heart. Between the pulsating nightlife, fashion shows, movie shoots, and all the celebrities gallivanting around town, Keeping up with the Kardianshians is a walk in the park. Yet one woman has proven that when it comes to reporting on all things entertainment, she stands in a class of her own. Shireen Sandoval is the current Entertainment/Features and Film Critic for Deco Drive on WSVN. Her job is to travel around the world interviewing some of the world’s biggest stars while keeping Miami informed of the latest celebrity and fashion happenings. If there is something going down, “Shireen is on the scene” to get the scoop day after day without skipping a beat.
She has interviewed some of the most famous people on earth like Oprah and George Clooney and does it all with an impeccable sense of style. There is no doubt that Shireen is also one of Miami’s best dressed reporters and she proudly shares her love of all things fashion on her blog “Shireen’s Favorite Things”.
However, before her favorite things became a blog; before she was jet setting around the world, and interviewing Oprah; Shireen was a woman with a big vision and a dream to create an amazing life.
Shireen was born on August 15th in Albuquerque New Mexico. Growing up she spent a lot of time with her grandfather, the late Robert Wilkes, who worked in the entertainment industry and was the first to expose her to the world of TV and film. Mr. Wilkes was a sound engineer and jack of all trades. After years of working behind the scenes of major TV shows and motion pictures like the Exorcist, Mr. Wilkes retired into theatre and at one point worked at the famed Kennedy Theatre in Washington DC.
“He was very interesting and very worldly,” said Shireen. She credits him for being a big influence in her career and setting her on a path into television.
She enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in both Broadcast Journalism and Theatre Arts. After graduation she began her broadcasting career as a reporter/anchor at the ABC and NBC affiliates in Amarillo, Texas.
Initially she wanted to report hard news. She envisioned herself as a war correspondent and telling stories that would change the world. Instead, she found herself reporting entertainment news. “At job auditions they always said I was an ok reporter but that my entertainment stuff was really good,” she explained. “But I fought it at first.” She admired women like Katie Couric and Barbara Walters that were out there reporting on the major issues.
But it was the entertainment industry that became her true calling. She realized that it didn’t matter what kind of reporter she became as long as she could tell great stories and enjoy doing it.
And just like that, “Shireen on the Scene” was born. Her exuberant personality, intelligence, and charm immediately began catapulting her career to new heights. Early on she got an opportunity to work at the FOX affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana where she continued her “Shireen on the Scene” segments as the Features/Entertainment Reporter.
A few years later, Shireen found herself in Miami and joined the FOX Affiliate WSVN where she became one of Miami’s most recognized TV personalities. It’s been a decade and Shireen is going stronger than ever.
In 2006, she left for New York to follow her dream of being on a national show. She fearlessly took a bite out of the big apple and went to work for NBC and freelanced for ESPN. What she discovered during this time was a defining moment in her career.
“I wanted to work on a national show and then found that creativity is not as needed. You are a talent and you become a performer and deliver information. I lost the ability to be fully involved with a story. You go to an interview and they give you the questions you have to ask.” She shared admitting that she was uncomfortable asking questions that were often times irrelevant.
“I got to do national TV and it was everything I thought it would be, but it turned out I wasn’t who I thought I was. I needed to be more involved in the creative process.”
A year later, Shireen moved back to Miami and reclaimed her rightful spot “on the scene”.
“New York is great but I love Miami. I don’t see myself leaving Florida. There is a great quality of life here and I love the people I work with. Deco Drive is a special show and WSVN is like a family. We love the talent and the producers we have. It’s a team. You don’t get that on a national level.,” said Shireen.
Shireen’s life really is as shiny and as glamorous as it looks. Though she recognizes her many blessings, life doesn’t sparkle all the time. To her the downside of being an entertainment reporter, film critic, and active blogger, are the hours of relentless work that go into making things look seamless. In college no one ever told her that working in this industry meant working on holidays, working crazy hours, and not always being able to lead a normal routine like everyone else.
“I wouldn’t change my past but I have made sacrifices to have my career. You have to be really committed to staying on the top. I’m not a mother and I’m single now even though I’ve been married before. I gave up some degree of working on my personal life. It just kind of happened by default not because I did it on purpose,” she said. “I haven’t found that perfect balance but I am working on it. I believe that a woman can have it all.”
Staying on top of her game might not be easy, but Shireen makes it look effortless. Though she has beauty to spare, Shireen has always known that a woman must be more than just a pretty face in order to succeed in life. In the TV world where there is no shortage of beautiful people, being smart, good at your job, and showing kindness are ingredients to her success. She shares this message very passionately with young people who want to pursue this as a career.
“There is a lot of competition in the TV world. Though I believe there is plenty to go around for everyone, it’s important to be a good person. People might forget the things you have done, but they never forget the way you made them feel”.
Looking ahead, Shireen is excited about all the wonderful things that are happening in the city. Between all the new productions and Hollywood’s ability to produce new stars every day, there will never be a shortage of entertainment stories to be told and who better to tell those stories than Shireen Sandoval.
PHOTOGRAPHER: IMANI OGDEN
WARDROBE: KOKO & PALENKI
STYLIST: SHARI BLOCH of KOKO & PALENKI
ON-SITE STYLIST: ALEXIS ENTNER
PHOTO EDITOR: TODD PHILLIP
MAKE-UP: JAVIER LUCERO
HAIR: ODETT HERNANDEZ
Click here to view post on the Sept/Oct 2014 issue.