Growing up on the South Side of Chicago and then in San Bernardino, Calif., Kellee Edwards enjoyed going on road trips with her family. She had no idea at the time, however, that a career in travel journalism might be an option.

Edwards grew up watching travel shows with very few women and no African Americans. Her curious nature and love of storytelling led Edwards to pursue a journalism degree while working as a banker to pay her way through school.


Kellee Edwards is a multi-hyphenate achiever with a résumé that reads: Pilot! Television host! Journalist! Scuba diver!Her impressive achievements, easy enthusiasm for adventure, and strong advocacy for solo women travelers provide a standing invitation for all of us to stretch beyond how we would normally define ourselves. 


After the Travel Channel’s seven-year spell without a female host, Kellee Edwards stepped in front of the camera. But, as with most recent travel shows, Edwards’  Mysterious Islands is on the more extreme side than, say, Samantha Brown’s wandering through Tuscany or Buenos Aires. The show, which premiered in 2017 and takes you to—you guessed it—mysterious, often far-off islands, comes with a twist. Edwards, a licensed pilot, certified scuba diver, and former entertainment journalist, flies herself to the remote destinations.


Born on Chicago's South Side, Edwards is used to succeeding in environments that would be a challenge for others. As a licensed pilot, certified scuba diver, and seasoned mountain climber, calling Edwards the future of adventure travel would be an understatement. Her journey is a significant accomplishment given the overwhelmingly white male industry she has been called to pursue, but her success — which has been nearly a decade in the making — is by no means an accident. Edwards's love for exploration began the first time she saw mountains on a Greyhound bus trip from Chicago to California.


Describing herself as having the skillset of a Bond girl meets Laura Croft, Edwards is tasked with exploring the remote corners of the earth, uncovering unique cultural traditions and sharing stories of people in far flung places.

From mountaineering to skydiving, there’s nothing off limits for Edwards. She has explored Indonesian caves with thousands of buried bodies and trekked to an Alaskan island with a population of 22 people.



A life of adventure is thrilling in theory and significantly harder in practice. It takes real grit, a pinch of madness, and a wild heart. Kellee Edwards knows this all too well. She seems to take her travel advice straight from Indiana Jones. She’s been certified as a diver, a pilot, and spent years traveling the world with a camera and dream. 

That dream was to be the first black woman to host a Travel Channel show. And it’s not a dream anymore. It’s a reality. 

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Despite what social media might lead you to believe, Black people are still missing and underrepresented in the travel space. For Kellee Edwards, seeing pretty photos wasn’t enough, she did not see Black people on television talking about travel and diving deep into the global community. So with her passport – and her broadcast journalism degree in hand – Edwards set out to change the images we see of Black people and travel.