When Noor Tagouri was featured in the October 2016 issue of Playboy, she made international headlines. While she's not the first or last woman to grace the pages of the publication, she made history by being the first woman in the magazine's 64-year run to wear a hijab. Featured in the magazine's first-ever "Renegade Issue," which spotlighted eight unconventional men and women who aren't afraid to break the rules, Tagouri —after consulting with multiple mentors—jumped at the opportunity to challenge perceptions and celebrate women empowerment, despite the inevitable backlash she received.
The 23-year-old journalist and first-generation Libyan American from West Virginia, who stopped by Texas to speak at SXSW last week, continues to inspire millions of people, whether in print or on air, by proudly wearing her hijab. Tagouri, the first hijab-wearing news anchor on commercial television in the U.S., says her aspirations continue to change as she breaks one stereotype after another.
"I went from print to radio to television, and now I am a digital reporter for Newsy. Back when I was starting out as a local TV reporter, my goal was to work for a network but that changed,” says Tagouri. “I'm more interested in mini-documentaries, like A Woman's Job, and something more longform, as most of our stories only last three to seven minutes.”
Tagouri’s fame began when a Facebook photo of her at the ABC News anchor’s desk wearing her hijab went viral. Since then, Tagouri launched her #LetNoorShine campaign to inspire others to embrace their identities and pursue their passions, no matter public opinion. She also collaborated with clothing brand Lisn Up to start her #TheNoorEffect line, a collection of jackets, hats and shirts with the word “girl” crossed out, to raise money to combat sex trafficking, an issue she strives to prevent after seeing the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof’s interview on Oprah about his and Sheryl WuDunn's book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Tagouri is dedicated to breaking glass ceilings. Her new documentary series, "A Woman’s Job," which airs on Newsy, profiles women working in male-dominated industries, including the only female NFL coach, Jen Welter.
"I want to cover stories of marginalized communities and make sure that they are represented fairly," Tagouri says, "like the cultural tensions in Hamtramck to stories about the witches of Salem or an undercover graffiti artist."