Some experts estimate that 77 per cent of people suffer from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. But there are those rare ones who seem born with the gift of gab. One of those is Ainka Williams, whose mastery of words and upbeat personality makes her a perfect fit as a television and radio presenter.
Williams, 34, told WMN as a teenager she did not know what she wanted to do. But since her father worked in the oil industry, she studied sciences in case she wanted to work with him later on.
“While doing CXC I had English teachers who let me know I had a way with words so I should pursue something along those lines. Still having no clear direction as to where to go, I stumbled upon journalism and public relations with COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts Trinidad and Tobago).”
While studying for her associate degree at COSTAATT she had the opportunity to do an internship at a radio station and decided that was what she wanted to do with her life. However, after completing her degree, she went to work at a bank but continued looking for broadcasting opportunities.
Williams auditioned for a local online news site but was too nervous to do well. Fortunately, someone at SynergyTV saw her audition tape and asked her to audition for the TV station.
“That audition never saw the light of day. They saw the bloopers for the audition with me making all sorts of faces and O’Brian (Haynes, general manager of SynergyTV) said, ‘Yip. I want her.’ And that’s how I got started in television.”
She started at Synergy in May 2015 as a producer and presenter and stayed for about two years. She was the only female presenter at the time and covered entertainment news, both live and pre-recorded, filled in as host on a number of shows, and met a lot of people in the local entertainment industry.
“That was a baptism by fire but it gave me a lot of room to have creative input. I was very involved in the process of creating a product but there was a lot of trial and error.”
In November 2015, the unit with which she worked at the bank closed so she took it as a sign to go into broadcasting full-time but as a freelancer.
Over the years she has worked as a digital media content manager for a number of companies as well as voice talent and master of ceremonies for many others including Flow Sports TT, bmobile, and MasterCard.
Wanting to be part of something good and give back to communities, she accepted the position of YMCA Ambassador and host for its activities and events between 2016 and 2017.
Williams is currently co-host of TTT’s the NOW morning show and Next 99.1 FM’s mid-morning show, TeamUp in the Morning, and does UNDP public service announcements.
She is also the facilitator for the Ministry of Sports and Community Development’s virtual outreach initiative TT Online Community Voices. She said she enjoys the conversations with experts and giving people information they would not easily access otherwise on numerous topics including finances and home ownership.
“It’s information the average man on the street needs but is not necessarily getting. And acting as a facilitator really benefits me because I get all the information.
“It also really lends itself to having more responsible and valuable conversations. It’s really important, especially as media practitioners, that we understand that we’re not just there to entertain and talk but to effectively inform. I think that’s a big gap that exists and I really want to be a part of fixing that.”
She is also the host of Tourism Trinidad Ltd's Let's Tour: Sweet Sweet Trinidad television series where she visits places around Trinidad. She explained that the show “got the go ahead” for a second season but filming paused because of the last lockdown.
“I really pride myself in being 100 per cent, maybe too much sometimes. But what that did was give me the opportunity to have people live vicariously through me to have a very authentic experience.”
Williams has always been interested in people and believes that talking to and observing others is the best way to learn. And being an outgoing person who likes to dance, sing, laugh, and who sometimes has no filter, she thrives working in entertainment and on the field engaging with people. She loves that her job requires that she be herself.
“I never wanted to do hard news because there tends to be an expectation of females, particularly in the media. They are expected to be proper and reserved or are not taken seriously. So it was very important to me to show that duality.
“There is no reason I can’t go to fetes and ask you about your outfit or experience, or try tourism products in TT and enjoy myself, and also hold an articulate conversation about things that are more meaningful and contribute to society’s development.
“I realise that I have a responsibility, as anyone who is slightly recognisable in public, to make valuable contributions to your time or ensure you come away better because of it.”
Williams’ hope is that she shares useful information, leaves people feeling positive or energised, and encourages people to live fully and enthusiastically.