A new anchor at WESH 2 News in Orlando has Lakeland roots. Luana Munoz, 39, stepped into her new role as weekend anchor on Sept. 15 at the Hearst-owned television station. “It’s been a lot of jumping around and working in other markets and locations. So being able to come back home is a big deal for me. There’s family here. I just love the feeling of central Florida,” said Luana Munoz.
Prior to coming to WESH 2 News, Luana was the morning news anchor for KTBS Channel 3 in Shreveport, La. While at KTBS, she anchored the station’s coverage of Hurricane Laura and covered the Trump presidential campaign. The two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist also worked as a news anchor and reporter in Sacramento, Ca., and as a TV host in the Norfolk, Va., area, according to her Linkedin profile.
She began her career at CNN Español in Washington D.C. She describes herself as a bilingual anchor and investigative reporter whose upbringing in a “split conservative/liberal household and political science background from UCLA allows [her] to tell stories through a balanced and well-rounded lens.”
The news director offered Munoz the job at WESH 2 News in August, just in time for her wedding on Sept. 12 in Orlando.
“Finally, I got the opportunity to work for WESH 2 News over the summer. I just continued to reach out to the news director and let her know I was the girl who could do the job,” said Luana Munoz. “After years of trying to get her to pay attention to me, she did. It all worked out.”
The Afro-Latina of Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage said she was born in California. Her parents were divorced, which led her to living in both California and Florida during her childhood. Hurricane Andrew led her father to move from Miami to Lakeland.
Munoz spent her early teenage years at Evangel Christian School and attending Carpenter’s Home Church, where her father, Ibrahim “Brian” Munoz, played in the band. She also attended Lake Gibson High School for a brief period.
She recalls a vastly different north Lakeland 20+ years ago. “Lakeland back then wasn’t as diverse as it is now,” Munoz said, adding she never forgot the conversations her classmates were having in school. “They would say Blacks and Whites couldn’t marry. They really thought like this. I just remember being shocked and taken aback,” Munoz recalled.
She said the comments hit her hard, as it was a different way of thinking from what she was accustomed to in California. She ended up marrying an African-American man, Larry Wright, who is from Jacksonville. They had a wedding based on the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog.”
“The hope and the prayer is that people have broadened their horizons and have learned to see the world through a different pair of eyes, “ Munoz said.
She lives in Orlando but visits her sister who still lives in Lakeland. “Now, I’ve seen some of the changes in Lakeland for the better,” Munoz said.
Munoz said she most appreciates Lakeland’s small-town charm, recalling the annual tradition of sliding down the Slip-N-Slide tarp at Evangel Christian School.
“What I love the most about central Florida and Lakeland especially, it’s got this very home-like feel. Growing up here, some of my best childhood memories were at Evangel Christian School and Carpenter’s Home Church, working with the youth there. They had some of the best programs and things they would do with the kids.”
Carpenter’s Home Church was a prominent Assemblies of God megachurch located on Lakeland’s northside, and Evangel Christian School was affiliated with it. Both closed in the early 2000s, after the property was sold. The property has since been converted into a senior living community, known Lake Gibson Village.
Munoz looks forward to assisting WESH 2 cover more of the Latino community, using her skills as a bilingual reporter.
“WESH and the Hearst Company is a station that truly values diversity. That’s why I chose to be there. They really seek to represent their viewers, not just by covering stories that matter to them, but seeing them represented on camera as well,” Munoz said.
Munoz anchors the news for WESH 2 News on weekends at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and at 10 p.m. on sister station WKCF/CW18. She reports during the week.