Logo for the television program, Cooking Without LookingThe Story: Hello! My name is Annette Watkins and I am Co-Host of Cooking Without Looking, as well as host of Segment 3 of our show, Food for Thought. And sometimes I even cook a healthy dish myself!

My day begins by arriving at the studio, meeting up with my co-workers and getting make-up for the cameras. Then I am given our script for the show in Large Print and I meet the guests we will have on that day before we shoot anything to give them an opportunity to ask if they have anything they want us to ask them that would be of interest to the viewers.

We are all inclusive working with people who are blind or visually impaired as well as with those who aren’t. This includes the staff and crew, lighting, sound, director, people to be interviewed and those cooking on the show, and we mingle with the audience. During this interaction the crew always takes a tight shot of the audience looking for expressions and applause.

John Palmer, mentioned in Renee’s and Allen’s stories too, told them about me, and I joined the group since I was visually impaired. The connection is that I had originally gotten visually accessible equipment from John, who was the show’s first sponsor. Since I was a pharmaceutical executive in my previous career I had the needed delivery skills from speaking to doctors and interviewing them. These were the two biggest things that helped me get this job.

Annette Watkins, Co-host of Cooking without Looking
Annette Watkins, Cooking without Looking Co-host

For me to successfully do my work a few modifications and accommodations have been necessary but this is true for all workers with disabilities. The ones I use due to vision loss are large print scripts and for script practice or memorization I rely on Zoom Text. Neither I nor any of the other staff can see the camera crew, so instead of using hand signals, they use their voices to let us know which camera to look towards.

There are so many things I like about my job. I like getting in front of the camera, I like interviewing, putting our guests at ease and bringing out the hidden treasures in them by asking the right questions. I love leading; you might say I am a natural born leader. Believe it or not, I have even more fun working with someone who’s cooking because I get to use humor, and my memory.

On the other hand, job related things I could do without is the “hurry up and wait” aspect of working with cameras and TV. This waiting business often makes for a long day but that’s just part of the package. And, of course, lugging the food from here to there is never fun but that, too, has to be done. Here’s my most personal issue that you will probably get a chuckle out of but it’s true; during the show I am always paranoid that my hair doesn’t look right to be on camera. Sigh… oh, well! (Smile.)

My advice to a person who is trying to decide whether this job would be good or bad for them to have is to get details. Maybe you have the necessary education or talent or skills but learning about lesser known details of a particular job is your best bet. For example, were you aware of how much “wait time” there is? Another example for doing good interviews is to try to learn as much as you can about the person you are going to interview. Then practice the script and just have fun.

The Contact: Cooking without Looking; Phone Number: 305.200.9104