Remember the name
She’s a respected lawyer, professional point-maker and journalist whose appeared on every major network worth mentioning as the sharpest guest on every panel.
Her name is Yodit Tewolde and she’s must-see TV, especially on FOX’s “America’s Most Wanted” reboot where she provides in-depth legal analysis and helpful tips on the futurized show that picks up where its iconic predecessor left off in 2011.
At one point, “America’s Most Wanted” was the most successful show on TV that ran for 24 years as an inescapable pop culture obsession only rivaled by “Unsolved Mysteries.”
We caught up with the emerging media maven who talked the show’s resurgence, those very life-like avatars and more during our exclusive interview.
“America’s Most Wanted” is an iconic show. I’ve grown up watching it. I remember being afraid of it. That and “Unsolved Mysteries” — John Walsh was just an amazing, amazing human being who is really just a powerful voice for victims everywhere and to have an opportunity to have a part in all of that is coming full circle for me. So it definitely is… it’s great”
BOSSIP: I must say that I saw the 3D avatars on this show —
(laughs) That’s a fan favorite. People are like, ‘oh my God!’ — imagine having those when “America’s Most Wanted” originally launched — to be able to physically visualize a fugitive, to be able to see how they aged with our age progression technology, to be able to say, ‘OK, they escaped prison 30 years ago, here’s what they may look like right now’ and to be able to pull up this 3D life avatar and also have the uniqueness of whatever physical characteristics they may have.
For example, we just shot a show with one of the cases where a guy has multiple tattoos that Avatar is going to have those tattoos. It’s important that the viewers can see that. And so it is a powerful, powerful tool, not to mention social media. So you’ve got that combined with the type of technology we’ve been able to show the viewers. I mean, I feel bad for these fugitives because I guarantee that they’re going to get caught sooner than anybody expected, you know what I’m saying? So we actually caught one fugitive after we aired two weeks ago. So it’s going to happen for sure.
BOSSIP: What was your initial reaction to the avatars–I wanted to call them holograms? Did they just press a button in the studio and the avatars popped up?
(laughs) so wait, holograms–they talk, right?
y–yes, usually it’s Biggie or Pac–I’ve only seen the music versions. They rap and sing —
(laughs) OK, so we’ll just say holograms can do all of that. The avatars haven’t been able to do that, thank God. It would scare me but they’ve been able to blink and have a move but what’s really crazy is that on the set I’m talking with Elizabeth Vargas–the host–and we are to imagine that there is an avatar between us because in real time, when I’m looking at it, there’s nothing in between us.
But there are monitors on the sides of us. So I have a monitor in my eyesight and Elizabeth has a monitor in her eyesight on the other side. And I can see the avatar in the monitor but I can’t see the avatar like literally standing next to me. So it takes a lot of work to be able to know where to stand, to know how much space you have between you and the avatar.
Because if I’m pointing towards the avatar, I don’t want to point into the avatar. I don’t want to point behind the avatar. So we’ve got to get the eye alignment, the hand alignment. So it definitely is some work. And I have a new appreciation for how my television shows are made.”
BOSSIP: You’re a journalist but didn’t actually train to be a journalist, right?
“I went to law school and started my legal career as a prosecutor and, you know, there were some things that I saw as a prosecutor that wasn’t necessarily fair. I kind of felt sympathetic to the defendant. I know it’s ironic given the fact that I’m on AMW but there were there were defendants that I felt like could have been my brother, my friend.
And there were ways I felt they could have avoided being in that position not to help me prosecute them. So I wanted to talk about that. And my boss was like, ‘you can’t. Not as a prosecutor’ so I was like, ‘OK’ well, I left and I started my own practice.
And then I met up with my mentor Roland Martin and he had a show on TV One and I was like, listen, you’ve got to give me a chance to do my thing on TV. Like I’m good. I’m a legal analyst and I was totally bluffing at that point. I hadn’t analyzed a thing but, you know, it’s that audacity–and he was like, “OK, well, you know, I may have you on the show. We’ll see.’ And so he gave me his number.
And he’s like, if you have any questions or need any advice just give me a call. And a week later, I get a call from him and he asked me to do a segment on Freddie Gray at the time. And once I did that segment, people from other networks noticed–they started calling me from FOX then CNN started calling then MSNBC–so I was doing that for like five years while still running a practice because that was the most important thing for me.
And then I got a crazy opportunity to host my own show on Court TV–it was being revived. And Court TV is one of the most important shows you could have out there because that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re watching the inside of a courtroom right now because of their cameras, their cameras, Court TV’s cameras. So that was really cool to be able to cover high-profile cases around the country.
And then AMW came about and it was a different type of show for me because it’s not live but it was one of those moments where I was like, “I grew up on this,” and, initially, I had some hesitation of aligning myself with a law enforcement show given the climate of where we are right now with the police in our communities.
But it was AMW that was like, all right, you know what? I have always been an advocate for community policing. That is what AMW is. ‘America’s Most Wanted’ is saying we need the public’s help. We need your help to not only bring us information so that families can finally get answers but hold people accountable. And what that accountability looks like is up to the court system. Right? I don’t get to say someone gets to go to prison forever.
That is not what I am doing at ‘America’s Most Wanted.’ What I’m doing is saying, ‘hey, this person has already committed a crime and was convicted of it and they’re on the run and we need to find them’ because now the issue of whether they did it or not is at rest, right? They’ve done it, they were convicted and they ran. We need to bring them back. Right. OK, then you have those that are suspected of killing somebody.
So, of course, there’s a presumption of innocence but there are real families that have come to the show–Black families, Brown families, all kinds of families, that have said, ‘listen, our loved one was murdered. We want answers. We want this person on the run who’s basically disappeared to be brought forth so that we can see what this is about. We can get the answers that we’ve been we’ve been wanting for years.’
So, for me, this isn’t, ‘hey, let’s just send the police out and let them do what they do.’
We are saying help the police community. Right? So, for me, that was what I think was the point in time that I was like, ‘all right, this is community policing. This is what I have been advocating for. And this is what makes sense.’
“America’s Most Wanted” airs every Monday at 9/8c on FOX. You can also catch Yodit on her upcoming primetime show “Making The Case With Yodit” premiering this month on the Black News Channel (“BNC”).