You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is about. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the community I’ve always wanted to get to know. As a bonus, I’ve updated some of the questions!


I’ve got a special place in my heart for journalism. Originally, I wanted to be a war photographer. Then I wanted to be a photojournalist. Matt followed a similar trajectory, originally wanting to be a war correspondent and you can tell from meeting him he would have been a hell of a conflict reporter. He’s smart (see his reading list below), compassionate (he really cares about the people in the stories he reports on), easy-going, and he’s got that hard-nosed curiosity one needs in the industry (working with a team that produced Emmy-nominated pieces on gun safety and affordable housing in the Orlando area). Matt loves this city and I can’t wait to see what he reports on next.

Who do you look up to?

My co-worker, Claire Metz. She’s one of the greats. I also have a beautiful circle of family and friends and colleagues for which I am extremely grateful. Everyone in my life helps shape my life, and I feel highly favored every day for everyone in my life.

Favorite book, album, musician?

Back when I first started college, I began reading (and writing) poetry for fun. Whitman and Yeats, Rumi and Tagore, Poe, Hughes, and so many more — and I loved the escape and the freedom of it. Eventually, I switched my major from Political Science, after having switched from journalism. to English and stuck with it. I still love reading poetry and fiction whenever I can get a break from all the stranger-than-fiction news I consume. My musical needs vary by the hour, but Michael Jackson songs always put me in a better mood and Bob Dylan lyrics make me think.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Orlando?

This is tough. We are so lucky here. Obviously, it depends on the day, but Zaza’s New Cuban is my favorite for breakfast (find me dipping toast in a colada and know I have found true happiness), Little Saigon for lunch (I could eat the fried spring rolls with peanut sauce all day) and I love Armando’s (treat yourself with Sunday in Napoli) or Il Pescatore (the bolognese!) for dinner.

If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?

Easy. A manatee and an alligator. That’s how much I love Florida.

Who in your life has inspired you?

I’m inspired almost every day by people who share their stories with me. Often, they’re struggling through something, or even on their very worst day. The ones who bravely share their stories, in the hope they might bring light to something, help someone else, or make the world a bit better tomorrow, are incredibly inspiring to me and I am always grateful to them.

What are you proud of?

The stories that made some change. Not all of them do, of course, but a parent looking you in the eye and saying, “Your story helped my daughter,” is more fulfilling than any award. Plus, I’ve lost far more awards than I’ve won …

What rejuvenates you?

Like so many of us, I’m looking forward to traveling more once the world emerges from our pause, not just for the experience, but also because I always seem to find new goals for everyday life, and new perspectives on it, once I’m back from a trip. The ocean, a long sunny run, or just even a good cup of coffee tend to recharge me well as needed.

There anything you haven’t done yet which you feel compelled to do?

Oh, absolutely. I’d love to work on more long-form storytelling or even documentaries. My favorite stories usually involve long interviews because those long conversations tend to yield deeper meaning — more truth, more heart. I’m excited by the streaming age we’re in because I think it is opening new possibilities not just by the different options to choose from, but also by the ways in which stories are told and shared. I think (and hope) a hunger still exists for quality journalism. At some point, I do want to focus on writing creatively, fiction stories or perhaps a novel, and potentially going back to school.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

I don’t know if I have this totally figured out quite yet because I do genuinely want to keep up even if I’m not on the clock, but I’m getting better with living in the moment and devoting more time to other passions outside my “day job.” I also choose not to give all of myself to social media and instead tend to keep my online focus on the professional side and that’s been a great boundary for my real, personal life offline.

How do you hope to be remembered?

As helpful.

If you were to choose a different career what would it be?

If I were more courageous, maybe I would’ve been a poet or a novelist. I love to write. I’ve also been interested in architecture and design almost as far back as journalism, because the idea of creating new spaces for people to use and live in or breathing new life into old ones, seems exciting. At some point, I would like to teach, because I love the energy learning brings, so I could see myself shifting in that direction someday.

Click HERE to read more “11 Questions” columns by Brian Carlson.

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