Vicki Yates, News Anchor for CBS station affiliate News Channel 5 in Nashville, Tenn. is an ambitious and well-respected career woman. But, of all of her accomplishments, the honor and privilege of being a mom is the one she most cherishes. On this afternoon, we were honored to share a visit with Yates and her daughter, Torri Yates-Orr: an up-and-coming multimedia host and actress.
“My mom is the strongest and best woman I know. She’s an incredible journalist, …incredible at her job, but she is tenfold as a mother in raising my brothers and me,” says Orr, leaving her mother flattered to a blush.
But it wasn’t always so easy.
With a three-year-old, Orr and her two year-old twin boys in tow, Yates was divorced, a single mom and on the move. She recalls it was “a tumultuous year,” but as the remembrances of untold trials and tribulations subside, Yates’ focus shifts toward the positive. “We’re here and we’re standing. No accidents or mistakes—well, a few. Nobody has a mistake-free life. Certainly, I don’t.”
Yates’ career began while in college at Michigan State as a freelance writer for The Michigan Chronicle, Michigan’s most successful minority newspaper. She made stops at WJIM Detroit as a news reporter, and held positions as Assistant News Director, reporter and Public Affairs Director at WMJC Radio, also in Detroit, before going on to serve as news writer, producer and news reporter at stations in Michigan. She made stops in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before finally settling in Nashville.
Yates beams as we shift our questioning to Orr. “She is the most considerate, most loving, smartest, savviest, gracious. That means a lot to me. I raised my kids alone; I was a single mom. So it was very important to me that I impart certain things to my kids,” she says.
Little did either of them know just how much she was imparting. While is seems now, Orr is destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps professionally, she reveals that even with her passion for writing and apparent zest for the work on camera, journalism and becoming an on-air personality weren’t always at the top of her list. “It was kind of a winding road,” says Orr.
Orr’s career began at the University of Tennessee, where she majored in African Studies and minored in theatre, after which she attended New York’s Academy of Dramatic Arts. “For years I didn’t want to go in my mom’s path. I wanted to make my own,” she says. For now, it’s led her back to Middle Tennessee, where she currently hosts the award-winning web series, “Bear Hug It Out” and works as a multimedia host at WUXP-MYTV30 and WNAB-CW58T in Nashville.
While Orr admits, “All those years of watching my mother have helped,” if you’re assuming Vicki’s success is the catalyst for Orr’s burgeoning career, or that “she helped her get her job,” think again. Yates makes it plain that’s not the case and that, “Torri got it on her own,” but takes the time to delight in the fact that sometimes she can see herself in her daughter. “Sometimes I’ll see some of me in her. Some of the things she’ll do and I’ll say, ‘Oh she got that from me,’” says Yates.
Finally, the mother and daughter speak of their legacies. “I want to continue to work with women of color, especially young women,” says Yates. She wishes to remind them, “They must be prepared,” and they, “don’t have to take a certain road because someone tells them to.” Orr agrees, saying “Know you are a goddess. Know you own worth. And, get ready.”