By Asli Omur
Northwest Asian Weekly
By the time Maria Arcega-Dunn had learned to read, she was nicknamed “the town crier” by her family. “I was relaying stories and communicating at a very early age,” she said.
Today, Arcega-Dunn still feels like a town crier.
She joined the Q13 Fox News team in Seattle a year ago as its female anchor. To apply for the position, her agent sent footage of her work to Q13 news director Steve Kraycik.
“She has a great passion for news,” Kraycik said. “She is a credible news anchor. Her on-air presentation is solid. … Her diverse personal and professional background allows her to really connect with the community.”
Before coming to Seattle, the Canada-born Californian of Spanish and Filipina heritage worked for CNN and Global Canada doing news feed coverage. She has also worked for CNN Asia International, based in Hong Kong, and Fox 6 News in San Diego.
Her heavy-hitting international work includes covering the civil war in East Timor, the turnover of Hong Kong, the Al Qaeda-connected Indonesian terror group Abu Sayaf’s attacks on East Timor and the capture of hostages by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
She abandoned her constant traveling upon learning that she was pregnant with her first child Nicholas.
Speaking of her international career, she said, “It is funny where the world takes you.”
Arcega-Dunn studied broadcast journalism and broadcast technology in film, radio and television at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. She studied social work at the University of Calgary. Her social work background was beneficial when she was a lobbyist and activist for Pacific Islander groups as well as the GLBT community and the fight against HIV and AIDS.
She likes to encourage students in the field of journalism but worries that some aim too low. “Many young people come up to me and say they want nothing else but to be an anchor just like me. But some don’t understand that it is not a job about being glamorous. It is a service, to give up-to-date, accurate information that affects the public,” she said. “Of course, you have to look composed and glamorous while doing that, but above all else, it is about the service, and it is for the love of news.”
Arcega-Dunn co-starred in a short film in 2007, “Me, Masi and Mr. Clean,” directed by an Indian female friend. The film focused on beauty ideals presented to minority women. “We are both Asian women — she is Indian, and I am Filipina — and the mentality of lighter skin being better really resonated with me. There is still a lingering notion in the Philippines, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere that mestiza, or appearing mixed, is better,” she said.
Arcega-Dunn said that her mixed ancestry has affected her career, but in a subtle way. “My ethnicity has made me what I am and how I view the world. I have always been very aware that I am different. I am not blonde, blue-eyed with light skin. But I won’t let my minority identity stop me from achieving,” she said.
In a city with a diverse population, she says she finds Seattle “a little closer to home.”
“It is nice to have four seasons again, to see the leaves changing color and the rain. Seattle is a great city,” she said.
However, there is something lacking in the city’s diversity. “But when I look at the people on the street, I don’t see my people. There are no Filipino restaurants or stores. There is a lot of attention made to Japanese and Chinese communities here but nothing about the Filipino community.”
“I know they are here, yet they have no voice. I want that to change. I hope to bring attention to them in the next couple of years. I have lived all over the world and never experienced this. It has been such a surprise and really makes me sad.” ♦
Asli Omur can be reached at email@example.com.