By Makaio Smith
Atherton High School
Sydney Madry is a no-nonsense kind of young woman.
She owes it, at least in part, to her father.
“My dad has like a tough exterior,” Madry, 17, explained. “He taught me that if somebody ever says something to you, just don’t even pay attention to them.”
Madry, now a rising senior at Louisville’s Male High School, first took his advice to heart back in the third grade when she began wearing glasses.
“When I first got them, people would tease me and call me ‘four eyes,’ but it didn’t really affect me,” she said.
“I guess you could say that I’m not really that sensitive to what people say to me because I just brush it off, like it’s not going to affect me in any way.”
As she’s gotten older – and life’s lessons have gotten tougher – Madry’s no-nonsense approach has continued to serve her well.
When considering a career in broadcast journalism, she saw a lot of women of color such as herself, but they mostly wore their hair straightened.
Then one day, she said, she noticed Renee Murphy, then an anchor at WHAS-TV in Louisville, had changed the way she did her hair.
“When Renee Murphy went from straight hair to natural hair, it really impacted me a lot,” Madry said.
Her doubts about pursuing a career in journalism were erased. “It shows that there will be change in the future and after she did that, many other news broadcasters went natural,” Madry added. “Before that, I rarely saw any diversity in this career.
“If the broadcaster was a black woman, they would have to straighten their hair to fit to European standards and I don’t want to be the one that has to fit to their standards,” Madry said. “She completely inspired me.”
Soon after, Madry took a journalism class and joined the school newspaper, the Brook n’ Breck.
Even when the adversity is personal, Madry maintains her poise and positive attitude.
Madry has fond memories of growing up with her three older brothers. “When we all used to live together, we did the normal things,” she said. “We were all very close. We played video games, built forts with blankets and stuff.”
Two of her brothers remain close, but one has virtually disappeared. Madry said he “just went MIA for some reason. He just never calls me, never sees if I’m OK.”
Madry is at a loss to explain the disappearance. “I don’t know if he and his current girlfriend are still together. I don’t even know where he lives.”
“I still have two other brothers that help me,” she said.
But that strong exterior, instilled by her dad long ago, continues to serve her well. And she’s determined to keep that no-nonsense attitude going forward.
“In the future I’m going to do something,” Madry said. “I’m not going to be emotional and cry over something irrelevant and ignorant.”