CHAMPIONS of Africa: Isha Sesay

Isha Sesay is a highly accomplished British journalist of Sierra Leonean descent. Since 2005 she has worked as an anchor and correspondent for CNN International. Originally based at CNN’s world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and now based in Los Angeles, California in the United States, she hosts the news programs CNN Newsroom Live from Los Angeles. In addition, she was the presenter of the 360 Bulletin on Anderson Cooper 360°.

Born in France in 1976 to Temne parents from Sierra Leone, Sesay returned with them at the age of seven to their homeland and lived in Sierra Leone for most of her childhood. She is one of three children, with an older sister and a younger brother. Her mother is Dr. Kadi Sesay, and her father worked as a legal advisor to the SLPMB (Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board); he died in 1988.

Sesay studied at the private Fourah Bay College School in Freetown. In 1992, at the age of 16, she returned to the UK for further study and college. After completing her A-levels, she was accepted into Trinity College, Cambridge, where she studied English.[1] She decided to become a television journalist, having previously aspired to become an actress. During her final year, she began writing to media groups seeking work.

After graduating, Sesay began her television career as a researcher for a BBC talk show, initially as an unpaid intern. She later was hired as a full-time paid employee. In 1998 she moved to Glasgow to work for BBC Scotland, and, after a period behind the camera, got her first job as a TV announcer on BBC Choice.[1] She went on to present a variety of programmes for the BBC, CNN and TWI, before joining Sky in March 2002.

In November 2005, Sesay became a news anchor and correspondent at CNN International. Late in 2007, she was in South Africa to cover the launch of the Global Elders. In 2009, Sesay became the host of the first edition of the weekday news program International Desk. In 2011, she swapped roles with Michael Holmes, and was assigned as the presenter of BackStory. BackStory was changed to a weekend-only show so Sesay was assigned as the anchor of a new show, CNN NewsCenter.

Isha is also the Founder of W.E. Can Lead, an organization dedicated to helping African girls thrive in primary and secondary education Sesay was engaged on 5 January 2013, to Leif Coorlim, a fellow CNN staffer. They married in August 2013.