Latia Nelson, communications manager at WHHI-TV, describes her job at the Lowcountry television station as a blessing that she walked into.
“I love that I can be my true self,” she said of her work. “I’m a creator, and as long as I can be creative, I’m happy.”
But getting to that realization wasn’t easy for the 27-year-old mother of two.
Nelson grew up all over the Lowcountry. In 2010, she was accepted into Savannah College of Art and Design’s sound design program, setting herself up for a career in film and television. She interned on a movie set, and when MTV’s “The Real World” came to Savannah during a casting search, she worked as a casting director’s assistant. While these experiences made Nelson realize she wanted to pursue a career in television, life took a detour.
After only one semester, Nelson left SCAD and became a mom. In 2013, she was working minimum-wage jobs, living on the south end of Hilton Head Island with her young son, Denim, and pregnant with her second child — all while trying to get back into school. Not long after her second son, Daniel, was born, the boys’ father left the family.
It made things even harder for her, she said: “2014 was a rough year.”
But she didn’t lose hope.
Nelson enrolled at Technical College of the Lowcountry, got a job in Bluffton and started a small business. In October 2014, she and her sister found an apartment. Not long afterward, a chance meeting put her back on the path to success.
That December, Nelson happened to be in TD Bank when a WHHI employee saw her SCAD shirt and asked if she was a student. They started talking, and Nelson told him about her experience and that she wanted to get into TV. It was a fortuitous meeting: He said WHHI was looking for interns and encouraged her to email the station for more information.
She did. And to her surprise, the station emailed her back.
“I was so ready to get my identity back,” Nelson said. “I told them they didn’t even have to pay me.”
In January 2015, Nelson began her internship with WHHI. Station manager Wayne Morris said he could see right away that she was a cut above the other interns in the program. A month after she started, the station offered her a part-time job as a program manager. She has since climbed the ranks to communications manager, a full-time position that puts her at the center of the action at the station — coordinating bookings for WHHI shows, running the station’s intern program, managing its social media channels, branding and client relations.
“At a small company like WHHI, everyone has to wear multiple hats, and no one wears more hats than Latia,” Morris said. “She’s smart, versatile and a vital entity in how we do things.”
In 2017, Nelson graduated cum laude from TCL. She’s currently working on a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Strayer University, and her boys are 6 and 4. When she talks about how far she’s come — in both her career and her life — she credits her experiences at WHHI.
“I’ve made so many connections in the community, and my coworkers are like my family,” she said. “I’m just now stepping into my womanhood and who I am, and WHHI has definitely played a role in that.”
And, most importantly, she’s excited about the future.
“I just want to be great,” she said. “I want to live out my potential and be the best I can be.”