This past October, Chenue Her helped blaze a path for Asian Americans in the news industry by making history as the first Hmong American male news anchor in the U.S. The 31-year-old made his way up from a news intern, becoming Good Morning Iowa’s anchor at WOI Local 5 News (ABC) in Des Moines, Iowa. (More personally, he has also been a mentor figure for me over the course of the last year or so. What was originally part of a social media challenge to see who could message Her first regarding membership to AAJA.com quickly blossomed into a business relationship.)
A Twin Cities native, Her has roots that run deep in Minnesota, and he noted support from his family, friends, and colleagues in helping him reach his goals. “There were a lot of local news people that inspired me to want to get into TV,” Her tells me. “Obviously here in the Twin Cities, Gia Vang is a big inspiration to me because she was the first big Hmong face that I saw in the news that inspired me to dream big and know that anything is possible.” KARE 11’s Gia Vang became the Twin Cities’ first Hmong American anchor in 2019.
Since he was young, Her says he has had goals and aspirations to reach the top level of news reporting. “It was my dream to be a correspondent on a national level—or, a news anchor was always the main goal that I had for myself. Everything that I’ve worked for has led me here, and now we’re doing it.”
From an early age, Her knew he didn’t want to pursue a career in math or science. “For me, I really wanted to be able to tell stories,” he says. “That was the biggest thing for me.” What intrigued Her most about the news industry was the creativity that stemmed from the storytelling and the way that every day was different from the last. “I wanted a career that would help me get out into the community and be involved, and journalism was it for me.”
But Her’s success didn’t happen overnight. “My first taste of the industry was when I accepted an internship out in Sacramento, California,” he recalls. “I went out there and interned at a local news station. I loved it so much because it was fast-paced, and every day was so exciting.” Before landing his position as a leading anchor, the 31-year-old held other positions within the industry, including as a field reporter for KEZI 9 News in Eugene, Oregon; as a reporter for 13News Now in Norfolk, Virginia; and as a reporter for 11Alive in Atlanta, Georgia.
But for Her, being an Asian American always kept him guessing: Was there a place for him within this industry, being who he was?
“I think it is a very competitive business. Always make sure you come in every day and you’re on top of your game,” he says. “I always wondered if there was ever going to be a space for me in this business being Asian American. I think, as time went on and I moved up in the business, there is a place for me since my skill set and experience has proved that.”
Becoming the first male Hmong American anchor in the U.S., Her says he has received praise from family, friends, colleagues, and the Hmong community as a whole. His success continues to highlight the Hmong community alongside other Hmong trailblazers like Gia Vang and Olympic champion Sunisa Lee. Despite all the praise and admiration he has received, Her stays humble: “I never worked because I wanted that title or recognition,” he says. “I didn’t know I was the first until someone brought it to my attention. It’s a great feeling to have, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility to show that anything is possible.”
With the continued support from his family and colleagues, Her hopes to inspire other Hmong and Asian Americans to believe in their goals and dreams.