Lights, Camera, Action
The amazing thing about Eun Yang isn't that she's nice; tune to NBC 4 on any given weekday morning and that's obvious. It's that she's as nice as she is for someone who wakes up at 2:20 am. "Well, technically my alarm goes off at 2:20. But that doesn't mean I get out of bed." She cops to a reliance on the snooze button, sometimes hitting it three times before finally putting her feet to the floor. "I'm not going to lie; it's brutal," says Yang, who makes it to the office by 3:30 and is on the air promptly at 4:26. The morning newscast, which she co-anchors, is over at 7, but she does news cut-ins until 10. "After that it's editorial meetings, planning meetings, working on reporting pieces, and I try to answer my e-mails," she says, emphasis on the word "try." She's out of the office by noon or 1, but often has little time to herself before the kids are done with school at 3. "Carys is in full-day preschool this year," she says of her youngest, who is five. The two boys, Ben, seven, and Jake, nine, also are in school and participate in several extracurricular activities. "Three kids, three different schedules, three different activities. That's a lot of pick-up, drop-off, and practices," Yang says she relies heavily on her husband, Robert Kang, who works in the nonprofit arena, specializing on projects in Asia: "It's divide and conquer." Dinner is usually early, around 5:30; bedtime for the kids is 8:30. "I'm normally to bed myself at 9, and I always lay out my clothes the night before." Not completing that last ritual can yield bad results;
Yang once found herself at work with one open-toe heel and one closed. "I don't trust myself to get dressed in the dark," she laughs. Yang and Kang long ago decided that city-living was a good choice. Both love DC and the hustle and bustle of all there is to do; they also feel a responsibility to expose their young children to the diversity of an urban lifestyle. "We used to live in Logan Circle. It was before that area really boomed—we watched the Whole Foods on P Street being built. We really loved it there," says Yang. "Jake was a baby then and he would sit and look out the window and learn all of his early words, like 'car' and 'taxi' and 'bus.'" These days, the family of five lives in a comfortable rowhouse on a tree-lined street in Lanier Heights. Yang isn't averse to the suburbs, where a few of her mom pals live; she simply sees advantages to city living that others might not. "The trade off, of course, is smaller space," she says, mentioning more than once in our conversation that she sometimes does secretly long for the simple pleasures of a back yard, a driveway, and the luxury of a playroom or storage area. "But look at just our street, for example, which is this unique and interesting mosaic of people who are part of our larger world." There's a family of three generations in a home adjacent to hers, a power couple on the other side, an elderly neighbor close by, young kids down the street, creative types, and myriad other characters. "It's a real world in our own back yard, so the kids aren't overly sheltered," she says. "Sure, there is crime, but we have a safe home and we teach them to make smart choices. It's an imperfect universe, and we do have our issues, but living here is a good opportunity to think about different people, different walks of life, for better or worse."
As an anchor who reports plenty of stories reflecting that "imperfect universe," Yang has better perspective than most. "I think becoming a mother gave me a new insight into news. I think it makes me a better anchor to feel those emotions on the tough stories a little deeper, to show my human side. I'm a person, and I'm a mom, and sometimes people forget that." Yang, who has been with NBC 4 since 2002, likes to focus now on stories that have an impact on families, such as bullying and the pitfalls of social media for young people; human interest pieces are her strong suit. "The value of local news is immense and something not to be overlooked; we have a direct link to our community." Yang's morning newscast is number one in the region and her professional aspiration for the foreseeable future is simply to remain where she is, doing the work that she's dreamed of doing since she was a kid. "My mom tells me that as a small child I would mimic the news anchors on television," says Yang, who grew up in Silver Spring and studied broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland. "My parents flipped out at my choice of profession." Now, however, they're heartily on board and remain her biggest fans. Yang's parents emigrated from Korea with little more than strong faith and work ethic, and managed to give Yang and her sister, who owns a ballroom-dance studio in Northern Virginia, a wonderful life and many opportunities. "Family is everything—that's our culture. They worked hard, for long hours, no vacations, and they did it without complaint," she says. "I teach my children to respect them and love them, and they have a great relationship with all of their grandparents."
The faith and commitment to family values that she learned as a child aren't all that different than what Yang is teaching her kids today, albeit with a slightly more emphatic approach to rules. "I love my kids fiercely, I'm the mama bear, but I am strict with them." At bedtime, Yang does a "highs and lows" recap of the day with each child before the kids say their prayers. "I ask them each night what they want to pray for, and they always have the funniest answers." Before she knows it, it will be the middle of the night, time to rise and do it all over again. "I will say that for any mom—stay-at-home, working, whatever—there are never enough hours in our day. But I also feel like things happen at the right time in your life. My children, my husband, my job, as hard as it is to do it all together, that's my time, my season, at least for now."
Photography by Cade Martin. Styling by Pascale Lemaire, T.H.E. Artist Agency. Hair and Makeup by Dean Krapf, T.H.E. Artist Agency.