By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Charla Young is making a life and a career out of paying it forward.
Young, an Amory native, is the host of her own weekly 30-minute talk show, “The Charla Young Show,” which originated in Louisville, Ky., and expanded this year to air in 20 cities in 10 states.
She’s learned firsthand the importance of feeling empowered and helping others, and that’s the message she’s sharing on her show.
Young earned a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi, and worked as a reporter for WCBI from 1994-98. She later moved to Kentucky, where she hit hard financial times.
When she was at her lowest – nearly $29,000 in debt and pregnant – her landlord, Elois Peach, wrote her a check to pay for her bills.
“She said, ‘Your future is so bright, it burns my eyes,’” Young recalled of Peach, who died a few years ago. “She wiped my slate clean and said, ‘You’re destined to help people and find a way to help.’ She gave me the power to change.”
Years later, Young put her savings into a new company, Power to Change Communications, and started her TV show.
Now Young, 41, is helping folks through the show and her organization, Charla’s Angels.
She and her show are based in Louisville, but she returned home this week to Amory and visited Tupelo and Memphis to give back at local organizations. “The Charla Young Show” can now be seen on WLOV, and she has a film crew following her on her journeys that will be shown later on the program.
“You can expect to see real people who turn obstacles into opportunities,” she said of her show.
It’s showing beginning this month markets like Cincinnati and Cleveland in Ohio, Knoxville, Tenn., Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va.
She’s interviewed the likes of Subway spokesman Jared Fogel and Ted Williams, a voice-over artist who used to be homeless.
“I know TV has to be sexy, and I’ve been told positive TV will never work,” Young said. “We shock you and we awe you, but we also motivate and inspire you.”
She’s expanded the empowerment idea to include summits, movements, retreats and more. For example, she has Power in 60, an empowerment group for seniors, and Power in Wellness, which focuses on health and fitness.
“People tell me, ‘You’re the next Oprah,’” Young said. “But I say, ‘No, I’m the first Charla.’”
She’s excited to return to her home state’s airwaves, and she plans to make regular visits back to Mississippi, where most of her family still lives.
“I’m still going to be Charla from Amory, as country as collard greens and cornbread,” she said. “I only want the fame and fortune so I can spread it on to others.”
Spend any time at all with Young, and you’ll hear her repeat her catch phrase: “Power up!”
“It’s the ABC’s of empowerment: Aim high, believe in yourself and create a strategic plan,” she said. “You have to plug into whatever gets you going. If you unplug anything, it will die. Find the source for you. … And I hope it’s ‘The Charla Young Show.’”