Richard Lui is a longtime journalist with more than 30 years of television experience. Currently at MSNBC and previously with CNN Worldwide, Lui is the first Asian-American man to anchor a daily national cable news program. Lui is the author of “Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness.” He lives in New York.
Could you share your faith background and journey to broadcasting?
Lui’s father was a youth pastor and social worker and his mom was a school teacher. Lui’s faith journey has had ups and downs, but he is grateful for the family values instilled in him at an early age.
“Though it was economically difficult … they followed their passions even if it meant financially struggling,” Lui said. “As a pastor’s kid, I fell into that typical journey of zigging and zagging a lot. When I was 13, I thought I could become the world’s youngest apostle. I was out there with my Bible talking to my friends in the schoolyard. They’re working on a remote-controlled car, and I’m breaking out in a verse … For the years that I’ve been telling stories, my faith has always been there.”
Lui said his parents’ lifestyle encouraged him in his broadcasting career.
“That is what influenced my view on life, that you can be a B player, but still be an A player. The way my parents lived was the quiet drip, drip, drip in the back of my mind. I’m not going to be Tom Brokaw. That’s OK, but I get to work there and try to tell the right stories with my upbringing and point of view,” Lui added.
Talk about your new book, “Enough About Me: The Unexpected Power of Selflessness.”
Eight years ago, Lui’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and he decided to work less to take care of him. Lui walked into his supervisor’s office at NBC ready to give up his dream news anchor job.
“When I asked my boss to basically have less time on TV, I thought she was going to say this might be it to my journalism career,” Lui said. “I was hoping for a solution and she said, ‘I’m a long-distance caregiver, too. My mom is in Florida, and I work here in New York with you. So, let’s find a solution’ … In this business, it’s an eight-day-a-week job as I say all the time. My boss allowed a change in my life that has brought on what it means to be human and care for my mom and dad.”
As one of 53 million Americans who are family caregivers, Lui flew from New York to San Francisco two to three times a month to care for his dad.
“I do this thing where I say, ‘This is your son Richard. If you can hear me, blink once.’ And he does these long blinks,” Lui added.
Lui has been a family caregiver for six years, and his father now can’t talk or walk and eats through a tube.
“At the end of the day, we serve others because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I think my dad is laughing all the way to the bank because he got his son to write a book about selflessness—his son that was doing all these other things in life.”
Though Lui said sacrifice isn’t easy, he said serving others is a no-brainer.
“You’re put in situations that really force you to ask, ‘What matters?’” Lui said. “I used to think, ‘I came of age when I became a journalist or covered x-type of stories for so long, but then the caregiving thing came along, and I am now ‘reunderstanding’ what it means to be me, my responsibilities and goals.”
What have you learned from reporting on stories of suffering over the years?
Lui said for every catastrophic event, there are hundreds of stories of hope.
“As much as there’s one selfish person that I talk about often on the news, a killer who decides that day that their view is more important than everybody else’s, but that’s one person,” Lui added. “I say it’s these other people like the Tiffany Paradas who risk their entire family to save other people despite being shot at. Or healthcare workers during the pandemic. It makes you know that things are better than they are worse.”