News & Politics

What Made Me: BBC Anchor Katty Kay

She talks to us about growing up in the Middle East, feeling like a failure, and the women who inspire her.

Photograph by Douglas Sonders.

The parent: My best teacher was my mother. She was a diplomat’s wife living in the Arab world in the ’70s and ’80s who always worked, even in really tough circumstances. She would drive off into the desert and live with the Bedouin for a week and write books and interview men who told her she was the first woman to set foot inside their office.

The setback: About seven years ago, I was anchoring a BBC news program and somebody else was brought in to do it. I had that moment of thinking, “My God, I’m a complete failure. I’ll never work again.” Then you get up the next day and realize the sky hasn’t fallen and your family still loves you—and then about six months later somebody offers you something just as interesting, if not more interesting, and you make the best of it.

The historical figure: When I was writing the book Womenomics [with Claire Shipman], I became incredibly conscious of all the women in the ’60s and ’70s who pushed open the door to the corporate boardroom and how incredibly tough it was for them to do it. How much they had to sacrifice in terms of their identity as women, how much they had to try to be like men, and how much they had to give up sometimes in not having children in order to go on working. That generation of women paved the way for all of us.

This article appears in the July 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.