“… Our consciousness as to what being powerful is has changed. And for me, what is powerful is being truthful. A truthfulness that is your own truth, following what is inside of you, whatever it is you’re going to create, however you see your life and shape it …”
With a brain as sharp as a needle, and a laugh as sexy as silk stockings, Sukanya Krishnan, Moves Power Woman extraodinaire, just makes our world better.
by Chesley Turner photography by Tony Gale
Changing the Rules.
In 2007, Sukanya Krishnan was named one of the New York Moves Power Women of the year. Since then, she’s knocked out 12 years of career building and family growth. Now, it’s time to take a beat, take a breath, and envision what’s next.
“I think the world has changed. You know, the #MeToo movement and everything like that. Our consciousness as to what being powerful is has changed. And for me, what is powerful is being truthful. A truthfulness that is your own truth, following what is inside of you, whatever it is you’re going to create, however you see your life and shape it.”
Sukanya isn’t shy about her state of mind. After two decades of New York City newscasting, the familiar fan favorite took a sudden step back, a surprise to many who were used to seeing her every day. But she knows exactly what she’s doing.
“I feel like I’ve been on this fighter jet every day. Like, shot out of a cannon every morning. And I’ve been go-go-go-go-going, and I never had real downtime. So this has been incredible.” She isn’t completely checked out. Krishnan is still dipping a toe in radio and digital media. But for the most part, she’s taking a break. “I’ve just been thinking and redefining myself. And I know that sounds really selfish, but I’ve never been selfish! So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s even hard for me to say it.”
But for her it’s important to take this break, particularly to determine who she wants to be. “There’s no way to really look at my potential and what is the next cycle and recreation of who I’m going to be if I don’t actually sit back and look at it.”
There’s never been time for self-searching before. “For so long, we just do what’s expected of us, or what we think life should be. And we kind of fall into these traps.” Keeping up with the Joneses, or the producer’s preferences, or the public opinion took priority for so many years. That’s television. But she’s not a young and impressionable girl anymore. Experience has changed the way she defines her life. “What I would have assumed ten years ago changes with age, with perspective. Power is truth. It’s standing in your own truth, your own life, whatever that is.” At 48, Sukanya is approaching a new decade and a new perspective on life. She’s taking the time she feels she richly deserves to find the truth of what her life will look like next.
“As I move into my 50s, how am I going to shape these two little minds that I waited so long to have?” Admitting her career development delayed the start of her family, she’s thinking about life differently. It’s less about what people think of her, and more about what she thinks of herself. “It’s all these things you get trapped with while you’re climbing the ladder to success and then you stop and go, ‘My God, I never really valued myself. I never really valued my time.” Especially in the television industry, she’s used to other people’s opinions being foisted on her—about her looks, her image, even her name. Enough is enough. “Who is that 48-year-old Sukanya Krishnan? Well, I’m trying to figure that out. What’s gonna make me happy, ultimately? What does that look like? I got so tired of being on Survivor Island. I was like, you know, I’m gonna get off. I’m gonna walk away, and I’m gonna gamble on me. I’m gonna figure out me, and I’m not gonna be worried about how people see it, perceive it, define it.”
At home, her two children, Kiran, aged ten and Shyla, aged six, keep her honest. “My son and my daughter, they’ve been so supportive. It’s so weird. My daughter, she’s like, ‘You’re doing okay today, Mommy?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m doing great!’ And she goes, ‘Good. You look great. I’m happy you’re good.’”
Shyla’s more than just a great pep-talker, though. She is the one audience that her mother could never fool. “You know what, that little girl has made me stand in my truth in more ways than one. I mean, there’s something about having a girl baby in your family. Boy does she hold you accountable. She’s a mirror every time I look at her. She’s a mirror if I’m being honest. She’s a mirror if I’m being truthful and happy…. What kind of person am I going to be? How am I role modeling? She’s my mirror, and she has freed me of so many things. It’s incredible. And she’s helped me forgive myself for past mistakes and to help me heal.”
Perhaps because she has a young daughter, Sukanya is able to identify the things women give up as they grow older. She’s eager to gain some of that back. “I think somewhere along the line, women forget to dream. When we’re young girls, we have dreams. And then you stop that creative dreaming and that process and that hopefulness that you used to have.” But you can get it back if you try. “I think that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m dreaming again. I’m dreaming of what my life might look like. I’m dreaming of what I want for my children. I’m dreaming of what I want for my family.”
It’s no surprise that the role models and power women in her own life impacted her at a young age. The influencer that stands out the most? The amazing Mrs. Lannigan. “Ernestine Lannigan. She was the volleyball coach.” As a 13-year-old immigrant child matriculating in New York City’s vast, diverse, and unruly high school system in the 1980s, Sukanya was shy and unassuming. That is, until Mrs. Lannigan approached her in the school cafeteria and told her to come to volleyball try-outs. It didn’t matter that she’d never played a sport before. “I’ll teach you,” she was told. Krishnan started to bust out of her shell because a teacher took an interest. “It’s teachers and coaches who gave a crap about me and told me I mattered. When somebody else sees that fire inside of you and sees you for who you can really be…. That was a moment of awakening.”
Those role models and fire-starters set her on her path with confidence and charisma. The shy girl is long gone, replaced by a woman who’s been the voice of reason and comfort through times of real trouble and times of playful happiness. from 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy to interviews with Donny Osmond, she’s become a habit for so many New Yorkers.
Building a life comes with ups and downs, both professionally and personally. But for Sukanya, it’s important not to mistake the trials and errors of life for failure. “I believe that when things don’t work, it’s not meant to work at the moment. That’s not a loss, or being broken. It’s just not time yet.” She believes that the universe holds our choreography, and that our course is mapped out. We don’t need to stress quite so much about the small stuff. “It’s not failure. It’s not that you’re broken or there’s something wrong with you. That’s something I think that women get a chance to realize with age.” With age comes wisdom, so they say. And while the 20-year-old is hustling, the 30-year old is becoming, the 40-year old is analyzing and redefining, the older you get, the more flexibility you have. “You know, people always say in your 50s and 60s things start getting better, because you really do accept yourself for exactly who you are. You are lighter. You forgive easier. You don’t hold grudges. you don’t take things so personally. And all of that is power. And all of that gives you the ability to be free, to redefine, to recreate, to reimagine.
“That’s how I see power now.”
And while dreaming and taking time are definitely on the docket for this downtime, so is the simple joy of trusting herself. “I trust my gut now, more than ever. Before, I used to do things because it was the right thing to do, or because we needed money to pay the mortgage, or to put aside for the kids. I would do everything for everybody, even though my gut would be like: Step back. Time to not say yes to that. You’re worth more. You’re valuable, You are a valuable entity in New York City. Trust that.”
For Sukanya Krishnan, it’s time to redefine; to reimagine; to trust her gut. And she’s got the power to do it. “Life is about choices. Forever begins any day you want it to. Disappointments of the past? Leave them behind. Personal decisions? Forget about them. Forget about anything that defines you. It’s time to do it differently. But this time, it’s just gonna be for me, and my kids. It’s not gonna be for anyone else.”