One message that particularly struck me was from a medical student living in Vietnam. This young man was on his way to becoming a doctor but had recently received an HIV diagnosis. He wrote to me thanking me for all I have been doing to show that HIV is not the end of the line for a person. He was so depressed and suicidal at times because of this diagnosis. And this was coming from someone training to be a doctor! It’s because of these kinds of messages that we want to bring the conversation about HIV out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karl Schmid.
Australian born television Host and Producer Karl Schmid have been busy on American, Canadian and British televisions for the last 10 years. Southern Californian audiences know him as ABC7 Los Angeles’ Station Host and for his involvement with coverage of entertainment and red carpet events.
Karl gained international attention in 2018 when he publicly disclosed his HIV status on social media making him one of, if not the only openly HIV+ broadcast journalists on US television. Since his disclosure, he has become a passionate advocate in the fight against HIV stigma which has taken him around the world.
Whether he’s been covering the Academy Awards and entertainment news and red carpets for ABC with ‘On The Red Carpet’, or the Royal Wedding live from London for TLC, or taking television viewers on an emotional journey as the host of Logo’s ‘Operation Vacation’ for two seasons, Karl Schmid has become one of Australia’s most sought after hosts abroad. His latest Producing credits include ‘On The Red Carpet at The Oscars’, ‘Cover Story: Meghan Markle, The Prince, and the Game Show Model’ for GSN, the Barry Humphries presented ‘Passions; The Music Hitler Banned’ for Sky Arts in the UK and ‘Rich & Acquitted’ for REELZ.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Karl! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My brother landed an acting job on the very popular Australian soap opera Neighbors when I was 7 years old. From time to time he would take me to set with him and I was mesmerized by the studios, the sets, the cameras, and the lighting. The world of make-believe which looked so real on our television sets was exciting for me. And, admiring my brother and being taken in by this whole world I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Well, +Life is still in its infancy so it’s early days. I would say the most interesting thing that has happened to us so far has been the reaction from people who have taken the time to follow @pluslifemedia across social media. From the comments and reactions, we are getting from the content we are putting out there, people seem to have wanted something like +Life which aims to break down the stigma and misinformation surrounding HIV.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
We are having a new and very real conversation about HIV and what it means to be living with HIV these days. There is so much misinformation and fear out there and our hope is to show people who look and sound just like them having everyday conversations and living full and healthy happy lives just like anyone else with a chronic manageable illness.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?
One of the reasons we decided to start +Life was because of the enormous number of messages I receive from all over the world via direct message either on Instagram or Facebook. To this day I received notes of thanks from people all over. One message that particularly struck me was from a medical student living in Vietnam. This young man was on his way to becoming a doctor but had recently received an HIV diagnosis. He wrote to me thanking me for all I have been doing to show that HIV is not the end of the line for a person. He was so depressed and suicidal at times because of this diagnosis. And this was coming from someone training to be a doctor! It’s because of these kinds of messages that we want to bring the conversation about HIV out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
1. Help develop a healthcare system that works for EVERYONE. Healthcare for ALL is a right, not a privilege. If people want to supplement their health care with private health insurance then great, but at the very least make access to care available to everyone.
2. Decriminalize HIV. In many states in the US, simply not disclosing your HIV status can throw in your prison. This only fuels the stigma and keeps people from wanting to talk about it, get tested and seek help.
3. Talk about HIV. There was a time when cancer was referred to as “the C-word.” Now if someone mentions cancer they are embraced, loved and supported. When someone shares their HIV status they are often shunned, asked how they got it and made to feel stigmatized. There more we talk about it the less it becomes a “thing”.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Someone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and go the extra mile to help others and themselves accomplish what they set out to do.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s never going to be easy. — Only through failure and hard work do you learn.
- You don’t need to be perfect all the time — It’s great to always strive for excellence, but you can only do what you can do and sometimes it may not be perfect.
- Take time for yourself — If you’re burned out, stressed out and exhausted then you’re no good to anyone, ALWAYS take time for yourself.
- Find a work/life balance — much like above… you can’t go go go and then recover and then go go go again… it’s not sustainable.
- Learn to say no — sometimes it’s absolutely ok to say no to things. You don’t have to be all things to all people.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I don’t consider myself a person of enormous influence. By social media “influencer” standards I’m pretty much a nobody. However, I think what we are trying to do with +Life is the movement.
Can you please give us your favorite \ “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you’re not ten minutes early, you’re late.” Time is precious and to assume otherwise is not only foolish but disrespectful of other people’s times. Keeping people waiting because you are late for reasons for your time mismanagement is just wrong.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I have wanted to meet and interview her forever. I admire her self-confidence, her talents, and her beaming positivity. I would love to sit next to her and soak all of that in and learn from her. She inspires, she supports, she encourages and she’s just so damn wonderful!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!