Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant Makes History As First Black Woman To Host Wildlife Show, ‘Wild Kingdom,’ On Broadcast Television

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant Makes History As First Black Woman To Host Wildlife Show, ‘Wild Kingdom,’ On Broadcast Television

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant often felt isolated as a Black woman in environmental science. A study abroad program in Kenya empowered her journey forward.

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant landed a role as the new co-host of NBC’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Wynn-Grant becomes the first Black woman in U.S. history to host a wildlife show on broadcast television.

Ironically, the self-described “very urban kid” first fell in love with nature by watching TV. Growing up, Wynn-Grant’s parents only allowed her to view educational programs. “To me, there was no greater career,” the co-host said, according to Essence.

“Wild Kingdom was one of the shows that I used to watch,” she revealed. “I was kind of obsessed with the experience that the hosts were having.”

Exploring the wilderness captivated her imagination and set her on a career path.

However, as a Black woman in environmental science, Wynn-Grant often felt isolated. “As far as I knew, I was the only Black student in environmental science,” she said, recalling her time at Emory University. While family camping trips inspired her white peers, her understanding of nature mostly came from textbooks

A study abroad program in Kenya empowered Wynn-Grant to push forward despite self-doubts. “It made me feel not only that ‘Yes, this is for me, but yes, I can do it,’” she stated. She realized wildlife conservation could be her way to purposefully protect the planet.

Years later, achieving her childhood dream of hosting a nature show, Wynn-Grant remains aware of her unique position. “I think race and identity is a really important part of the conversation here,” she affirmed. While the original Wild Kingdom featured only white male hosts, she believes her identity as a Black woman “symbolizes a lot of progress.”

Wynn-Grant is also a millennial focused on social justice — another shift from the show’s traditional hosts. However, she pointed out that “Wild Kingdom” has always drawn a diverse audience. “I have a very large, Black family, and they all watched the show back when it was on,” she noted.

By selecting her as the new face of this classic program, Wynn-Grant feels the conservation community is displaying “a commitment to inclusion.” She now hopes to inspire future generations, just as she was inspired herself: “I was so different from the host that I saw on TV. I hope that more young people, adults, everyone can be even more inspired by watching now.”

At its core, a lifelong passion has fueled Wynn-Grant’s journey. As UC Berkeley Professor Carolyn Finney observes, Black perspectives have long been excluded from environmental narratives. As the new host of Wild Kingdom, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant now has a national platform to reshape that narrative.

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