Lisa Guerrero (Photo/Wendy Kathleen Photography)

Six Figures: Lisa Guerrero, from model to award-winning investigative journalist

Former model, actress, and sportscaster Lisa Guerrero says she’s covered at least five Super Bowls in her life, but she says nothing she did as a sportscaster can compare to what she’s doing today as an award-winning chief investigative correspondent for Inside Edition.

“I’m a huge sports fan,” says the ultra feminine tomboy who was once named the “hardest working sports reporter” by the Los Angeles Times. “When I was a reporter, I was almost too close…Now I can enjoy it more as a fan again.”

Guerrero says she grew to love sports so much because her dad raised her alone in her hometown of San Diego, Calif., after her mom died of lymphoma at 29. Everything that happened after that tragic event pretty much shaped who she is today.

“When I was 8, my dad put me in theater therapy to deal with my grief,” says Guerrero who began her acting career at a young age. “ I got my SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card when I was 16.”

As she got a little older, her connection to sports started growing, and she decided to make the transition to sportscasting — during a time, she says, when there were no professional Latina sportscasters.

“I professionally changed my last name to ‘Guerrero’ as a way to honor my mom,” says the journalist who was formerly was known as Lisa Coles. “I knew she would be really proud of me, and I also wanted to let other Latinas know that ‘You can do this.’”

Because her mother, originally from Santiago, Chile died when she was so young, Guerrero says she never got to learn how to speak Spanish.

“I really felt the need to connect with my Hispanic heritage,” says Guerrero. “I look exactly like my mom. I feel like a Chilena. When I changed my name, that was it, I felt like I was home.”

It was in 2006 when she joined the staff at Inside Edition, and she’s been there ever since, covering more serious investigative news.

“Chasing bad guys and exposing them to an audience of 5 million people…has been such a joy,” says Guerrero. “I feel really good about the fact the majority of our audience is women, and I think it’s empowering to put a microphone in front of a rapist and demand answers. It’s absolutely the most important part of my job to demand credibility from people who are hurting others.”

She says of all her different careers, she feels most fulfilled as an investigative journalist.

“We do stories that really make a difference and bring people to justice,” says Guerrero, 48. “ Not only do I do stories that expose criminals, but scams as well.”

She says a recent story she did, which she is especially proud of, was outing a pedophile who was working as a children’s magician; he was arrested in November.

“We pretended I was a mom, we got some kids to come to a party, and I confronted him,” says Guerrero. “He had spent 12 years in prison for child molestation, and here he was around kids again, and because of that story he was arrested. We saved kids.”

She explains sometimes she’s on surveillance for days before she and the team catch one of these criminals.

“This is something I couldn’t do as a sportscaster or an actress,” she says. “ I go to bed every day feeling like I did something good, and to do it as a Latina is a bonus.”

She says her next goal is to host a show.

“Either where I can represent Latinas, in something like “The View,” says Guerrero. “ Either as a sole host or with a group, but I think it’s important for women to have a voice — we need to be heard… I would also like to write a book about my experiences in the media.”

She says there is a lot to tell about her experiences on Aaron Spelling’s “Sunset Beach” in the 90’s, as well as being a  cheerleader for the Los Angeles Rams.

“Some of my experiences have been wild –so to have a book — now is the time,” says Guerrero who just celebrated her 9-year wedding anniversary on Super Bowl Sunday, with Major League Baseball pitcher Scott Erickson.

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