Bella Shaw became one of the early stars of the cable news revolution when she moved from an NBC affiliate station in Oklahoma City to CNN in Atlanta in 1983.
Shaw, who lives in Valencia, stepped out of the national news spotlight in 1993 to raise her two sons, now grown.
However, she never really stopped working. Shaw served for years as the host of Time Warner Cable’s “Local Edition” and has numerous infomercials, feature film and television appearances on her resume.
She likes to tell the story of sitting on the bleachers, watching her son pitch in a high school baseball game, when a woman approached her with the statement, “I have money riding on this, my husband says you used to be someone…”
Shaw told her, “Not only did I used to be someone, I still am. In fact, I am better now than I was back then.”
Shaw was born in Austria, the daughter of a colonel in the U.S. Army and her Austrian mother. The family moved to Ft. Sill, Okla., when Shaw was 2.
After high school Shaw attended the University of Oklahoma where she became the voice of OU radio.
She found journalism fit her curious personality.
In her senior year of college Shaw found her first professional job in journalism at WKY radio, the oldest radio station in Oklahoma.
Shaw worked overnight shifts. “It was not glamorous at all,” she said. When the station converted to an FM format she was laid off.
However, the local television station had studios in the same building and Shaw transitioned to TV.
“I convinced the head photographer I could shoot a story, and I did,” she said. “I was there seven years.”
Shaw hosted the farm show and was also the state Capitol correspondent. In 1983 Shaw left the station when she realized there was little chance for advancement from her weekend anchor duties.
Shaw sent an audition tape to CNN, located in Atlanta, after hearing Ted Turner was launching a 24-hour cable news station.
“I sent the tape in on a lark,” she said. “They flew me out to Atlanta and I got the job. The bad news was that they put me on the overnight shift.”
On her first day at CNN she was scheduled to observe. But a breaking news story (presidential candidate Walter Mondale’s choice of Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate) found Shaw in the anchor chair informing the nation of Mondale’s historic choice.
Shaw’s talent was quickly recognized and she became the anchor of “Newsday” with two broadcasts at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Among the stories she covered were the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rescue of little Jessica McClure from a well.
When Shaw first started working at CNN, she was advised not to call security if I saw a “homeless looking man in a bathrobe” roaming the halls of CNN at night.
“It was Ted Turner. He practically lived in the studio during those early days of CNN,” said Shaw.
Her popularity soared, not only in the United States, but internationally as well. When a Japanese news crew visited Georgia, they did three feature stories on the state, said Shaw.
“They did a story about ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and two interviews, one with me and one with former President Jimmy Carter,” she said.
In June 2015 Shaw co-hosted a star-studded CNN reunion, held in Atlanta, with former CNN Science, Technology and Aerospace correspondent, Miles O’Brian.
She was reunited with former “CNN Headline News” Anchor (1983-2001) Lynne Russell, the first woman to solo anchor a prime time network nightly newscast and Washington D.C. Anchor Bernard Shaw (no relation).
“I remember Bernard frequently used to receive some of my emails by mistake saying he ‘looked great in pearls,’” she said.
Shaw moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to anchor “Showbiz Today” where she was known for her cutting-edge fashion wardrobe.
It was in L.A. where Shaw met her husband, Mark Soroko.
“I had just moved to L.A. and needed to open a bank account,” she said. “He was the CFO of the Bank of Hollywood. I kept finding excuses to go into the bank.”
Shaw left “Showbiz Today” in 1993 after the birth of their first child.
“I didn’t know how I could do both, work and be a mother,” she said. “The news business is not 9 to 5. It was hard to go to preschool events and to Little League games.”
The couple were married nearly 20 years when Soroko died suddenly in March 2010. He was 56.
Shaw is now engaged to television producer and indie filmmaker David Jeffery.
“We met on Facebook in 2015, we’ve been together four years,” she said.
They are looking to set a wedding date, but find scheduling their nuptials to be a challenge.
“Life keeps getting in the way,” Shaw said.
Jeffery and Shaw have traveled to Houston, New York, Orlando, San Jose and other cities to attend film festivals where Jeffery’s short “Girl #2” has been well received.
Because of Shaw’s signature anchor style and familiar face, she is in high demand to portray a reporter or news anchor in film and television. Her television credits include playing a reporter on “Brothers & Sisters,” a reporter on “Home Front,” a CNN reporter on “Commander in Chief,” a news anchor on “ER,” a newscaster on “Roswell,” herself on “The Larry Sanders Show” and most recently as a CNN anchor on “Veep.”
Shaw will also appear as a reporter in Selma Blair’s new film “The Great Illusion.” The film, currently in post-production, does not yet have a release date.
Shaw refuses to be defined just by her work at CNN.
“I’ve taken everything I’ve learned from CNN, which includes 10,000 hours or more of live broadcasts and I’m using my experience to assist small and large businesses succeed,” she said.
Shaw said much has changed in the information business since she started.
“The news business has changed tremendously,” said Shaw. “And I’ve evolved with it. I’m still in the information business. I’ve always kept up with the times.”
In addition to consulting with Women Media Pros (WomenMediaPros.com) and her infomercials for Cebria, Shaw has partnered with Sue Berry and Phil Ramuno to form BzS.
“We’re making our clients the stars of their own business,” she said.
BzS, (Bzspotlight.com) offers professional quality videos for business owners.
“You have to stay up with the times to be successful,” she said. “You have to stay relevant.”
The demand for a professional social media presence has skyrocketed, said Shaw.
In a world with constant “noise” from social media and the decline of traditional outlets to reach customers Shaw said BzS helps businesses focus their message.
“It’s not as expensive as people think,” she said. “It also gives a business instant credibility. We’ve expanded BzS to include professional videos to post on social media.”
Shaw is also starting a new career as a voice over performer.
“When you see a news broadcast, you’ll hear the news anchor read a script over video that shows images relating to the story. That’s a ‘voice over’ and as a news anchor it made me a natural for voice over work in Hollywood,” she said.
Shaw has been working with Dan Balestrero, a professional voiceover coach of MasteringVoiceOver.com, at his Agua Dulce studio.
“The great thing about technology today is that you can do voice over work from anywhere,” Shaw said. “I have a home studio where I can record and then send the finished product anywhere in the world.”
Shaw said she doesn’t want to be limited to portraying newscasters.
“I’ve been working on new character voices and doing ADR work,” she said. ADR, also known as looping, is a post-production process where actors re-record or add dialogue to existing footage.
Shaw’s voice has been heard on “The Passage,” “House of Cards,” “Queen of the South” and “The Punisher.”
Shaw’s ‘Free Time’
Shaw makes the most of any down time. She is currently studying German at College of the Canyons where she is a straight-A student.
“I think learning a language is good for the brain,” she said. “It’s important to keep your brain active.”
She also plays tennis several times a week.
“Now that the weather is warming up, I will be paddle boarding out at Lake Castaic,” she said. She also has signed up for Pilates.
“I try to keep very, very active,” she said.
Shaw said there is so much to explore in the world, there is no excuse to be bored. She is planning a trip to Austria in the fall to practice her new German language skills.
“Don’t worry about the future, forget the past, just try to live in the moment,” she said.