This is my seventh feature in my portrait series 100 Years Strong. Commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, this series of portraits is a celebration of strength, victory and beauty featuring fierce, fearless women in Deep East Texas.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, women began agitating for the right to work as professional journalists in the United States. Many female reporters in the 1800's and early 1900's were restricted to reporting on society and expected to only cover the latest in food and fashion. However, there were a few women who reported on subjects that were considered the domain of male reporters. Notably, an African-American journalist, Ida B. Wells was a journalist and activist who documented lynching in a crusade against the abhorrent practice in the southern United States in the 1890's. Ida was born into slavery and educated during Reconstruction. At the age of 27 she was an editor and co-owner of the Freedom of Speech and Headlight, an African-American newspaper in Memphis. In 1909, she became one of the founders of the NAACP. Since then, black women journalists from Alice Dunnigan to Carole Simpson to Oprah Winfrey have continued to help break down color barriers for women in journalism across the globe. Yet, despite all the progress that has been made, women continue to have to fight for progress and change in this industry. The Women's Media Center has studied the status of women (2019) and women of color (2018) in the news media and has found that women, particularly women are color are woefully underrepresented throughout all forms of media and at all levels, even today, in 2020.

“The media is in a state of great disruption, but despite all the change, one thing remains the same: fewer women report the news than men,” said Julie Burton, Women's Media Center president in the The Status of Women in the U.S. Media 2019.

I was excited to meet and photograph T’Ebonie Tanner a local Reporter/Multimedia Journalist from KTRE 9. She joined KTRE in November 2019 after moving to Texas from Alabama to work.   Here's what she had to say about working in this industry.

Do you have a favorite motivational quote? “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3 -- I love this quote because no matter what I set out to do, I always see it fit to pray before I make a decision and to ask for clarity in hopes that God leads my path. Who are the women that have inspired you? I am inspired by my mom. She is such a smart, beautiful and strong-willed person who has persevered through any obstacle life may has thrown at her. She moved over 10 hours away from home to create a better life for me (Kansas to Alabama). Although she has done a lot, that act alone encouraged me to move over 7 hours away from home (Alabama) to Texas; all in hopes to do the same and seek more in life.

When and why did you become interested in journalism? I became interested in journalism before the age of 10. I remember two separate occasions in particular. One day, my aunt and I went to get food and at the register, there was a drawing for one lucky child to become a weather person for 1 day. We ended up filling out a raffle ticket and a week later, we got a call back that I won the drawing. I was ecstatic and from then on, I wanted to know the in-and-outs of the news industry. On another occasion, one year my elementary school invited a well-known meteorologist to come talk to us about future careers and I could not get enough. It is crazy because I ended up working at the same news station as him, which was my first job as a production assistant. (James Spann at ABC 33/40 News in Birmingham, Alabama) Women, particularly women of color are significantly under-represented in U.S. newsrooms, even in 2020. Did you face any challenges getting into this industry? You’re right. As a black woman, I agree that there should be a lot more diversity in newsrooms. I did face a few challenges, while applying for internships and many jobs. I grew frustrated and sought out mentors for guidance on how to get into the news industry. A few mentors told me about the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and how it is an organization built to help you network and build connections with other people who are already in the industry. Those challenges I faced seemed achievable, once I was able to network with other individuals who look just like me, in positions that I could only dream of. Looking back now, I am forever grateful to have attended those networking conventions. I encourage any person of color to do the same, in order to “find a seat at the table”, so to speak. Why is it important to you that we have more women’s voices represented more in media? As a woman and a journalist, we must strive to be a voice to the voiceless; especially now, because at one time in history, none of our voices were allowed to be heard. In a world that is rapidly changing and as more women are getting roles that men have mostly occupied, our representation in the media is just as important now—maybe more than ever.

Tell us more about your job. What is your typical day like? Let me just start by saying no one day is the same for a multimedia journalist/reporter, especially during a global pandemic. I usually pitch a story idea the day before, in order to have things in order and ready to go smoothly the next day. I grab all my camera equipment and do the interviewing, videoing & editing myself. The day usually consists of scheduled interviews in the morning whether it be in person or via facetime/zoom, then I go to shoot more video that pertains to the particular story. Next, we have to create a video on our phones to send to our web team to post online content, because a lot of people get their news on digital platforms first. Then I start listening to the interviews, writing the story, and I edit it all together before the show. As journalists, we are always on a strict deadline to get things in. So if you add breaking news in the mix of a pre-planned day, that’s when plans can change fast! If this job has taught me anything… it is to be flexible and I’ve learned to stay ready, so that you will never have to get ready.

Any memorable stories? The most memorable story I have worked on would have to be from June 2020. There was a peaceful protest and march in Jasper, Texas where people came together to honor the life of James Byrd and George Floyd. In a time of heavy discussion about racial injustice and police brutality, this story really touched my heart. Many people in the community came out to march with signs in their hands which had powerful statements on them. Some people had on their Black Lives Matter shirts, and others were just there for support to cheer on those walking through the streets peacefully protesting. After talking with a few people, we all left in tears. We cried tears of joy, in hopes to make a change and change the narrative. What is the best part of the job? The best part of my job is meeting new people and being able to share their stories with the community. I get to meet many people from different walks of life and hearing their personal journey is very toughing at times. What are your long-term goals? It my 2nd year in the news industry, but my first 8 months as a reporter. My long-term goals consist of being a reporter for a few more years and transitioning into an anchor position at either the local or national level. Then, possibly be a part of a corporate communications company, so that I can start up a production studio for local creatives to work in and perfect their crafts.

Any advice for young girls who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism? My advice to young girls who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism is to be persistent and to pay forward the lessons you learn along the way. You must also have a genuine love to share other people’s testimonies. One of my managers once said, “everybody has a story”. This stuck with me and changed how I go about life on a daily basis. I want other young girls interested in journalism to remember that this career is not glamorous and ultimately, it is way bigger than you. People consume news for guidance and information. They trust us to tell the stories truthfully and accurately. We must always strive to be the light, breakdown those barriers that society has placed on us and make sure other women’s voices are heard as well. I am looking for more fierce, fearless women to participate in this portrait study. If you or someone you know would be interested in sharing your story, please contact me. You can learn more about my project here -

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  • Rachel Lout

This is my sixth feature in my portrait series 100 Years Strong. Commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, this series of portraits is a celebration of strength, victory and beauty featuring fierce, fearless women in Deep East Texas.

Maritime history is filled with tales of great sailing ships, traversing the massive oceans of the world, run by rugged, swaggering, masculine sailors. Sailors tend to be more superstitious than the rest of us, and in fact, an old nautical superstition held that women on ships or boats were very bad luck. Historically women were forbidden from sailing on military or merchant ships because the captains believed their presence would anger the sea gods, who would cause rough waves and violent weather. At the very least, a woman would be considered “distracting” to the all-male crew. Today the maritime industry remains a male-dominated industry, however more and more women are pursuing their dreams, honing their skills and making a living in maritime industries.

Ashley comes from a long-line of seadogs going back at least 4 generations. She dreamt of working on the sea from a young age and worked hard to make that a reality. Now 26, almost 27, Ashley works as a mate in the Galveston, Houston and Texas City ports where she works 4 days on and 4 days off. She is a wife and mother and somehow finds a way to balance it all.

I understand that you are a tugboat pilot. This seems like an unusual career choice for a woman. Can you tell me how you got started in this field? Since I was 10 years old all I can remember was wanting a career as a push boat captain and to work offshore. I became interested in that career field because my great-grandfather worked on the Houston Ship Channel as a captain of his own boat which was a dredge. My grandfather worked for him. My father is also a captain who still works on push boats.

I knew that I would not be able to achieve what I wanted to be without attending college. There are only a few colleges in the country in the country that offer the maritime transportation degree so I enrolled in the Texas Maritime Academy at Texas A&M at Galveston in Texas. One of the requirements was to be in the A&M Corps of Cadets. That was a very challenging first year. I attended college for 3 and a half years and during those years we were required to get sea time aboard ships each summer. My sophomore year was aboard the M/V General Rudder and we putted around the gulf. My junior year I worked for Kirby offshore as an intern. We went from Delaware City to New Haven, Connecticut with a stop in the New York Harbor on July 4th, where there was a beautiful fireworks display. For my senior cruise I sailed with California Maritime Academy aboard the M/V Golden Bear; I started in Hawaii and then we traveled to Saipan, Guam, then back to Hawaii, a stop in San Diego with us ending at the California Maritime Academy.

Did you face any challenges getting into this industry, particularly as a woman? Can you tell me more about what you do? After graduation I went to work for a push boat company and I worked 20 days on and 10 days off. This was at first a very hard adjustment. A lot of the men I worked with had never worked with a woman before me, which made it to where I had to work harder to prove myself and get respect from the men who had worked on the deck and were now in the wheelhouse. I have pushed barges from Corpus, TX all the way to Alabama. Many companies only have about 2-10 women working on their boats. Some companies don't hire women at all for the boats. I worked for that push boat company for about 5 years before making the jump to tug boats. I currently work 4 days on and 4 days off. With this job I no longer push barges. Now I assist ships on and off dock in the Houston, Galveston and Texas City ports. I am currently working on upgrading my license.

What’s your typical day like? My day usually consists of dockings and sailings. With my job I had to adjust to being in charge of a watch and knowing that I am responsible for all the lives on this vessel. I am also responsible for this million dollar piece of equipment. I have training in fire fighting as well as CPR and basic medical. We run drills to make sure the crew is ready for any emergency such as a man overboard or a fire. Our days consist of daily maintenance such as chipping and painting, cleaning and keeping up with the charts.

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― Mark Twain

Any memorable days? The best days on the boat were the few times I passed my dad on the inter-coastal waterway. We would always wave like crazy.

What’s the best part of the job? The best part of the job are the views. The sunrises and the sunsets. The sense of adventure. The adrenaline rush when you're coming alongside a ship.

Describe your experience working as a female in a predominantly male industry. I feel like the only hard part about working with only men was proving that I could work just as hard as any of the other men. I can throw lines. I can hook up hoses. I can dock the boat.

How do you stay motivated on the job? Praying and having a great support system at home, with a husband who takes care of our daughter and being able to talk to them daily.

What are your long-term goals? Working my way up to a captain.

What advice would you give other women trying to break into your industry? Go to college and study hard. Work on ships. Leave the guys alone. The rest comes with time and hard work. Believe in yourself.

I am looking for more fierce, fearless women to participate in this portrait study. If you or someone you know would be interested in sharing your story, please contact me. You can learn more about my project here -

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  • Rachel Lout

This is my fifth feature in my portrait series 100 Years Strong. Commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, this series of portraits is a celebration of strength, victory and beauty featuring fierce, fearless women in Deep East Texas.

Women have made a significant contribution to aviation since the Wright Brothers’ first 12-second flight in 1903, however there is still much progress to be made. In 1910, Blanche Scott became the first woman to fly in America. Women continued to follow in her footsteps and by 1930 there were 200 women pilots, and by 1935 there were between 700 and 800 licensed women pilots.

Then came World War II, as men went off to war by the millions, women stepped into the civilian and military jobs they left behind. When thousands of male pilots were stationed overseas, the job of ferrying new aircraft from manufacturing plants to U.S. military bases began falling on women. The Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was formed. At that time in early 1940s America, many women did not drive, and even if they did, they would have never considered driving across the state line, much less across country—alone. But these women pilots mastered cross-country traveling at the controls of the fastest aircraft we possessed at the time. They ferried new planes long distances from factories to military bases and departure points across the country. They tested newly overhauled planes. And they towed targets to give ground and air gunners training shooting — with live ammunition.

In the years since World War II, many more barriers for women have been brought down and records continue to be broken. By the 1960s there were 12,400 licensed women pilots in the United States (3.6 percent of all pilots.) This number doubled by the end of the decade to nearly 30,000 women, but was still only 4.3 percent of the total pilots. Today, women comprise about 6 percent of pilots in the United States.

Deanna, age 39 is one of those pilots. She is a flight instructor and she also ferries aircraft around the world. Deanna began flying when she was 17 years old.. She is wife and mother of two (Luke, age 13 and Katelyn, age 15). She is very active in her community and a great role model.

Do you have a favorite motivational quote? I have a bunch of motivational quotes I love and refer to often, many written on sticky notes I place in various places around my office, and most reminding me to work hard, do better, and don’t quit. One of my favorites is: “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” - Colin Powell

When and why did you begin flying? I started flight lessons between my junior and senior year in high school, when I was old enough to get my license (17 is the minimum age). I had somewhat grown up around airplanes, as my mother held a private pilot certificate and often flew us on her business trips and some family vacations in a small aircraft. When I was 15, my mom and her husband died in a plane crash that she was piloting. Part of my desire to learn to fly was to gain a greater understanding of how that accident occurred, beyond what I was able to read in the official NTSB accident report. After I began my lessons, I absolutely fell in love with all things aviation and decided to pursue a career in the industry.

Did you face any challenges getting into this industry, particularly as a woman? My chosen career path in the aviation industry was as a pilot, although I obtained 2 degrees that would support me in other segments of the industry should I not be able to fly…a Bachelor of Aviation Management from Auburn University and a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I was blessed with a great support system of family and friends throughout the majority of my training at Auburn University, although women only make up 5-7% of the overall pilot population. Upon graduation, I was quickly hired by a regional airline amidst a growth spurt in the industry then, just as quickly, was furloughed by the events of 9/11. This furlough led me down the path I chose to stay on within the corporate aviation sector and flight instruction. I can’t say I haven’t encountered any resistance due to being a female in a male dominated industry, but I can say I encountered much less than some of my female counterparts. There is still a lot of bias against what is a very small segment of the pilot population, with almost no discernible growth, because of our small numbers. Part of the problem is children often think they can do, or become, what they see and are regularly exposed to…adolescent girls simply don’t get to see female pilots enough to know that is an opportunity for them as well.

Can you tell me more about what you do? My job is varied. I fly mid-size (6-10 passenger), corporate planes for businesses local to my area, as well as work as a flight instructor, teaching people to fly aircraft. Because of the larger planes I fly, I also have the opportunity as a contract pilot to help move similar aircraft all around the world on repositioning flights.

What’s your typical day like? The beauty of my job, and what I love the most, is that there is no “typical” day. My calendar is constantly changing and I have to remain highly flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of those I fly for and challenges the weather may present. The only constant is that my day usually starts with coffee at 5:45a, haha. My work hours vary, based on what kind of flying I am doing that day. If I am flying a corporate client, we typically depart between 7-8am and return in the evening, if it is not an overnight trip. Destinations vary depending on aircraft size and can be all over the United States. If I am conducting flight training, I start the day with trainees around 8-9am and fly up to 8 hours a day and into the night, depending on their training needs. My family and I have adapted to my lifestyle of being on call for others, as I am susceptible to flying any day of the week and on any holiday in the year. We often have to celebrate major holidays on other days, as I am often flying others on those days, and I regularly miss out on big family events like birthdays, graduations, baby births, dedications, etc. Thankfully, I have a supportive family that understands the demands of my job.

Any memorable days? There are certain milestones each pilot reaches that stick in their memory. One is the day you first get to take an aircraft up by yourself, known as the “first solo.” Other memorable days for many pilots include adding new certificates and ratings, reaching a certain number of flight hours, getting to fly an aircraft you’ve always wanted to fly, etc. I’d say 2 of the most memorable days of my flying career definitely included my “first solo” at 17 years old and 9/11/2001, as that day changed the landscape of aviation and the course of my career, just as it was starting at an airline.

What’s the best part of the job? I love the people I get to work with. Unlike airline pilots, I get to know the people I fly for and with and some of them become as close as family. Flight instruction is especially near and dear to me, as I love teaching others what is such a passion for me. Whether it is someone starting from 0 hours and learning to fly, or mentoring someone more experienced in high performance aircraft, I feel like I am making a difference in someone’s life and/or adding to their skillsets to make them better, safer pilots.

Traveling around the world, I’m sure you visit some countries where women do not have the same rights and freedoms as they do in America. What has that experience been like? A female pilot is in the minority and a rare sight in most parts of the world, but in my experience, I am certainly an oddity in the Middle East. I conducted 3 flights through the Middle East and surrounding regions in the past year (landing in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirites, Pakistan, and India), with varying experiences. On one flight I was accompanied by a male co-pilot, who was deferred to at almost every stop. I was, if not completely dismissed, at least mostly unacknowledged in certain exchanges. My subsequent 2 trips through the region, as a solo pilot, proved differently. In full uniform and as the only pilot on board the aircraft, I was treated quite respectfully at all stops and had good conversations with several ground crews about moving aircraft such long distances by myself. The aircraft types I was moving alone are required to have 2 pilots on board in that part of the world. While my gender was unusual, the fact I could fly the plane alone seemed to be more of a talking point. While traveling in other parts of the world where women do not have as much freedom, I try to be respectful and observe local customs as much as possible; for example, I wear a head scarf as a covering for my hair through the Middle Eastern countries in order to make male ground crews and guards more comfortable interacting with me professionally.

How do you juggle ferry flying with marriage and kids? This is one of those questions that never gets asked of male pilots in interviews. It’s interesting how being a female in a male dominated industry lends itself to often being asked this question, as if it’s different for women and mothers than it is for the men and fathers to be away from their families. Both genders have the same challenges when it comes to marriage and being separated from each other for long stretches of time. It takes a great deal of understanding, communication, and a somewhat independent spouse to keep a marriage intact if you are a professional pilot, as evidenced by the nearly 50% divorce rate amongst the demographic. However, I would say that being away from home is slightly different between the genders where kids and parenting are concerned. Society says that women should stay home and tend to the children and it is difficult to step outside of that norm without facing a great deal of guilt from yourself and others that believe you are not fulfilling your role as a mother. At one point or another since having children, both my husband and I have had to travel for work and we have each taken on non-traditional parenting roles as needed to meet the needs of our children. We make it work the best we can by using shared calendars and good communication techniques regarding the kids’ schedules. I am always available to the kids by FaceTime, phone, text, etc during my stops and my family has adapted well to a home where I am gone a lot. My kids are independent for their ages and we taught them to be quite self sufficient in many areas. While we miss each other when apart, the beauty of my job means that when I am home, I get to mentally and physically be home. All of my attention can be focused on the needs of my family until the next trip arises.

What are your long-term goals? The aviation industry is very dynamic and highly subject to economic changes, both within the commercial and private segments. Through 23 years in the industry, my long term goals have changed several times and will likely change several more as the industry continues to change and reshape itself around economic changes, technology improvements, and regulatory changes. For now, I am quite content doing exactly what I am doing, but I do try to keep a finger on the pulse, so to speak, of varying segments of the industry in case a change is needed.

Any advice for young girls who are interested aviation? Do it! Flying airplanes as a career is not for everyone, but learning to fly recreationally is so rewarding. It teaches you a level of decision making and confidence that is hard to attain through most other activities and gives you a skill that can be used across your entire lifetime. It is mentally and sometimes physically challenging, but the rewards and benefits are well earned. I encourage young girls to seek out a mentor who will encourage and uplift them through the process, as it is often a long and challenging one. For those pursuing it as a career, know that it is a path full of ups and downs, long roads, and dead ends, but it is also full of beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and that dream job along the way. It is a rewarding career and worthy of pursuing if it is an interest. I would also encourage them to check out non-flying aspects of the aviation industry as well. There are many supporting segments that keep aircraft flying, including STEM fields in engineering, maintenance, avionics, ground crews, etc. Everyone has a role to play and they are all important.

When not you’re flying, what do you like to do for fun? Myself, my husband, and my kids are all certified scuba divers. When we take family vacations, we love going with our local dive group to different locales (domestically and internationally) to scuba dive. We have also recently taken up indoor rock climbing as a new challenge we can all do together. Because I am gone so much, most of my free “fun” time is spent doing things like this with my family. When I am on the road or alone, I love the challenge of yoga, hiking, or playing golf in my spare time.

I am looking for more fierce, fearless women to participate in this portrait study. If you or someone you know would be interested in sharing your story, please contact me. You can learn more about my project here -

View others in this series here:

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Rachel Lout Portraits, Nacogdoches, Texas

© 2018 by  Rachel Lout Portraits.