By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief
Interviewing a six-time, Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor might seem a little intimidating, especially when she’s also a former Miss USA with 20+ years in broadcasting to her name. It would be, unless you were interviewing Lu Parker, who during an illustrious career that has included rubbing shoulders with names such as Nelson Mandela, Tom Cruise and the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, is more comfortable being recognized for highlighting issues such as puppy mills, circus animal abuse, and the homeless crisis.
A Southern girl who now calls Los Angeles home, Lu has established herself as a respected voice in LA’s television news scene, anchoring four newscasts a day, five days a week on KTLA, Southern California’s leading news station. She is also the Founder of Be Kind & Co, a lifestyle media company that includes an online magazine, and an upcoming ecommerce merchandise line focused on kindness. The endeavor is her passion, but asked to describe herself, she lights up when telling us, “I’m a vegan, I’m a dog lover, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend. That’s me.”
Throughout her work it remains important for Lu to promote positivity, whether reporting the news or sharing on her social media platforms, “I’m never negative and I always try to share stories where you have a takeaway,” she explains. “If I really break down Be Kind & Co and what I am doing, I understand that kindness can seem fluffy and I am not saying be kind to everybody all day. It’s just not possible, but if we can keep kindness in the forefront of our mind so that when we do have to make a decision, we can make it in a little bit of a kind space.”
Kindness is a signature word for Lu, and although it might be hard to imagine success in the notoriously competitive TV or pageant industries aligning with this virtue, she has blazed a trail within both by staying true to her values. Watching her on-air or on her Instagram posts, it’s apparent that kindness is at the forefront of all she does, which she credits to her parents. Supporting her childhood passion to help animals, she tells us, “I was always saving animals as a kid and instead of saying, “No, you’re not bringing that squirrel in,” or “No, you’re not bringing that bird or that mouse or whatever you found in the woods,” they were always like, “Okay, sure. If you want to try to save it, here’s a shoebox and let’s figure it out,” so there was always an element of kindness in my family overall.”
She adds, “I just inherently feel in my gut, to be honest, that I do not like confrontation and I would much rather be on the kind side, the gentle side and the understanding side, rather than where there’s conflict.”
Viewing kindness as a strength that has assisted her through life, Lu lives by the premise, “Work hard and be kind, and good things will come . . . And never burn bridges.” However, being kind does not always lead to receiving it in return and politely living by the ‘three strikes you're out’ rule, she has managed to stay on her higher path while practicing healthy boundaries. “I typically give people and things a moment, so I think that’s really important,” she says.
Experiences of unkindness seem only to have propelled Lu’s evolution, as she shares, “I just learned that not everybody’s going to love you as a woman, and not everyone is going to want you to succeed. People are insecure or they’re jealous and all you can do, again, is work hard and be a kind person, move forward and let them deal with their stuff.” She continues, “One of the things I try to do at work is stay out of the gossip circles. I think it’s one of the things that is so important to teach younger girls (and guys), that you don’t have to play in that world,” quoting the old-fashioned saying, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything.”
But as positive as that all sounds, how does Lu process those moments when life is less than kind? “When things are negative, or when people annoy the craziness out of me, or they’re being a bad person, I come home and ask myself “Why am I being annoyed by that, why are they pushing my buttons?” so I have to look at myself, and what could be going on in their life for them to be acting like that?” Everyone’s fighting a fight you don't know about, right?”
She adds, “I try to do that. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. I try to find something where I can feel empathy for them, but maybe understand what they’re going through, and not take it so personally.”
As with everything in life, kindness starts with self and by taking valuable “Lu time” doing at-home beauty treatments, eating right, and getting rest, she is able to reset. “I’ve now learned to slow down and take a bath, and just get quiet and listen to inspirational music. Inevitably I always feel better after a bath and lighting a candle. I am very aware of what I put in my body - we’re feeding our own body and whatever we feed it is what we’re putting out in terms of energy and light. I try to eat foods that are alive. I’m vegan and don’t eat meat or dairy products, so I am really aware of that and I think that’s being kind,” she shares.
Extending to being emotionally kind to herself, Lu admits that it is a daily practice to quiet the negative comments that we as women often tell ourselves. “I really do try to flip it. If I’m in the shower, which is when I am doing a lot of my thinking, one thing I do every morning is make a huge heart out of the steam, and whatever I am thinking I try to flip it to a positive. But the heart in the shower - and sometimes I do a double heart - and it’s silly stuff like that - but it’s like today is going to be a good day and here’s the heart,” she tells us.
As we come to the end of our insightful conversation, I ask Lu for her advice on how we can all get through the rest of this year and into 2021, practicing kindness while dealing with the on-going strains of Covid. Her response is ever practical, yet heartfelt, “Worry doesn’t help; worry is not going to change it, so be present and what is it you're worried about, and how can you change that? What can you do to fix that? Maybe there are little things you can do as opposed to stressing yourself out about the unknown, because the only thing we really have is right now.”
“I’m going to have a tough time because as you know I lost my Dad in April, and it’s going to be my first Christmas without my Dad, but I am not the only one. There are tons of people who have lost family, so I think just having friends and listening to one another. We can’t hug each other, but support each other and don’t be so angry. Let go of the anger,” she gently reminds us.
Wildly kind, Lu has made living and promoting it a staple of her life, and while the rest of us may still be works in progress, we can follow her lead by remembering that kindness begets kindness, to ourselves, to each other, and to our world. And from there, even through a global pandemic, the only way is up.
Photography by Julianne Kaye for Exclusive Artists
Hair & Makeup by Emily Perez
Styling by Deborah Lindquist:
Vegan wardrobe provided by - Deborah Lindquist, Sarah Griffin Berns, Pattern Village, Mink Shoes, Sylth Virago, Calleen Cordero, Love Heals, & Lu’s own collection
Video by Brian Perry
Shot at the Westlake Village Inn, CA
Watch the interview below: