Samantha Zinn

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Samantha Zinn
Born Samantha Jane Zinn
(1993-08-15)August 15, 1993
Van Buren, Indiana, United States
Died November 30, 2020(2020-11-30) (aged 27)
Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States
Years active 2008–2020
Partner Todd Chandler (1998-2011)
Children 4 (two living)

Samantha Jane Zinn (August 15, 1993 - November 30, 2020) was an American actress. She was the daughter of Vote for the Girls franchise creator Ava Zinn and socialite Amanda "Mandy" Davidson. Zinn anchored WFTW's midday and 4 p.m. newscasts with Melinda Long and the NBC affiliate's 5 and 6 p.m. broadcasts with Lucas Ward.

Early life[edit]

Zinn was born in Van Buren, Indiana. Her mother was American socialite Amanda "Mandy" Davidson (b. 1981 d. 2014), and her father is American entrepreneur Ava Zinn, who is known for her launches of the popular web sites INNewsCenter and Vote for the Girls. They broke up when she was four, [1] reconciled when she was 18 and split up again when she was 20.

Zinn had a brother Thomas (b. 1997 d. 2006) and five half-sisters, Tiffani (b. Timothy 1999 d. 2021), Tabitha (b. 2003 d. 2018), Sierra (b. 2023), Lyssa (b. 2023), and a half-brother, Kenneth "Baby Kenny" Alvaraz (b. 2015 d. 2018) on her father's side and another half-brother, Kalvin (b. Kylee 2000 d. 2020) on her mother's side. With the deaths of Tabitha and "Baby Kenny", Samantha and Tiffani became the only remaining biological children of Ava Zinn as Ashli and Kalvin were adopted by Ava Zinn outright. Ashli and Kalvin both died on May 9, 2020 while Tiffani died on August 5, 2021. Until July 21, 2023, Zinn was the only child of Ava Zinn not born in Marion, Indiana.

Samantha Zinn wass also the paternal granddaughter of Margaret Zinn (b. 1943 d. 2002), maternal granddaughter of Marshall (b. 1947 d. 2002) and Janet Davidson (b. 1945 d. 1997), and previously the stepdaughter of Elisa Everman (b. 1979), Angie Willis (b. 1978 d. 2010), Christy Johnson (b. 1980), Kymberly Alvaraz (b. 1967 d. 2017), Marti McDaniel (b. 1970) and posthumosly Breeanna Sorensen (b. 1984).


Getting into the television industry[edit]

Zinn played her first role demo as a teenager. According to Zinn, her father, wanting her to focus on her studies and graduate high school and college before pursuing acting, and wanting to avoid the same mistakes her father and maternal grandmother made when they were growing up, and would not pay for Zinn's acting classes to record a pilot episode. The pilot ultimately was paid for by Jackson Steele, an uncle of one of the actresses (Morghan Steele) in the pilot. Zinn's video demo made its way to Your Debate host Rhonda Rhodes and Kathy Finklemyer, who were impressed enough by Zinn to invite her into the studio and work with them on producing a series. "The Blend", a talk show co-produced with Zinn, aired on WTOR-FDT (CBS 41). Zinn's peers jokingly nicknamed her "Kathy Funklemyers". It was Zinn's association with Finklemyer, who Zinn counts as one of her first mentors and Steele, whom Zinn and her father counts as her mentor, that helped her to land her first talk show at the age of 15. Zinn moved out on her own at age 16, during her senior year of high school, earning a living and supporting herself as a professional talk show host.

Early work[edit]

Before her days performing as a talk show host and producer, Zinn made a name for herself within the industry as a producer for other artists. Among her work for other presenters, Zinn produced her father's series in the United States. As a presenter, she produced and recorded solely under her nickname, Sammi Zinn. She would continue to do so until 2012.

2012–13: Early success and Evolution of Samantha Zinn[edit]

"There's so many mistakes my father made that I promised my grandma that I would never repeat once I graduated from high school. Number one, my dad's high school prom and her subsequent dismissal from IWU and if you were to see my dad and I together as father and daughter, you would clearly do not see that kind of relationship, but more like a sisterhood after a brother has a sex change. I did take a guy to my high school prom in my senior year fared 40 times pleasanter than than my dad's, which everybody knows (Ava, Samantha's father) what happened and eventually she stripped the title away from the prom date and give it someone else. Another thing was when I sat foot at IWU in the fall of 2013, I saw a reflection of my father, and it reflects what we're going through as a state here in Indiana. I just felt, with Mitch Daniels and the new energy he's been bringing, that it is time for some fresh hope and new attitudes. Then, in terms of me as a presenter, because I'd been presenting series about my own self-reflection I just thought it was time for me to start presenting shows about something ELSE!"

—Samantha Zinn interview by Lynne Jackson, Northeast Indiana Hot Seat (WXXC-FDT, INNCD 47), November 2013.

During another interview to promote Evolution of Samantha Zinn, she explained that:

I think this documentary was so different than my other projects. The last few projects I did, I spoke about my personal life as well as my father's and the things that I was going through for nearly 20 years now. However, since I've been attending IWU longer than dad did, I think you'll just see how my dad hasn't able to live the life she wanted to live, having to just say fuck it and give up on her dreams very easy, or when she auditioned for American Idol, she may have had it taken away from her and learned from that experience. What I thought were family problems are not family problems at all, and I think when I made documentary a little perspective kicked in.

2013-2016: Vote for the Girls U.S. and the controversy[edit]

In early 2013, Zinn became producer of her father's hit web site Vote for the Girls. As Zinn explained to South Bend host Melanie Wright, "My dad's hit site is called Vote for the Girls, a site that's similar to Vote for the Worst except that Vote for the Girls is about changing the minds of young women and teenage girls to stop voting for male contestants after my father had the boobs to audition in front of Idol producers, confront them about the boy bias and from what I've seen as a producer and as I've been in my 20's that we all think we're living on a straight path, but most of us aren't really doing that. And everything you thought you knew, the older you get, you realize, 'Damn, I don't know nothing about this. I better pay attention, I better listen and keep learning.' So I think that, that's what I've been realizing these past few years."

The web site and related videos clips often receive criticism, most often at her father for being misandrist and promoting feminism, with some critics going so far as to call her father as "The Gordon Ramsay of American Idol," "The Judge Judy of The X Factor," and even "Morton Downey Jr. after a sex change." In an interview for ______ Zinn joked about the site saying, "What a pleasure it is to degrade a man. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected men."

2016-2020: NBC 6 WFTW[edit]

In May 2016, Zinn joined NBC affiliate WFTW as a weekday afternoon anchor. Zinn became WFTW's youngest anchorwoman at age 23. She solo anchored the noon newscast and at 4 p.m. co-anchored with Melinda Long. Zinn also anchored the 5 and 6 p.m. broadcasts with Lucas Ward.

Personal life[edit]

At the age of 5, Samantha Zinn first met Todd Chandler in 1996 when the two were in preschool, when he asked her to dance. According to Zinn, she began dating Chandler at the age of 5. They had two children Alexis (b. 1999 d. 2012) and Allison (b. 2008 d. 2012.) Zinn and Chandler broke up in 2011, after almost 13 years. In 2016, Samantha quietly married Martin Becker and relocated to Fort Wayne. Her father followed suit in 2018 as well as her half-siblings in 2019. In a Facebook post by her father on November 14, 2019, and a month later that Samantha gave birth to fraternal twins: a boy, Albert Thomas Michael Zinn and a girl, Madison Leah Anne Zinn.

Zinn is said to be a loyal fan of Christina Grimmie and friend of fellow producer Morghan Steele.

When Zinn was 11, Laura Bakula had been babysitting her while her father began her gender transition. Ava Zinn reportedly didn't find out that her daughter was home alone until she called home the next morning and found out that Bakula had to leave because she had been battling cancer.[2] In 2006, after Bakula died of ovarian cancer, former WMRI-FTV anchorwoman Patricia Edwards confirmed that it was Samantha (then going by Sammi) who answered the telephone call from Sammi confirming the news Bakula was diagnosed with ovarian cancer: "(She) wasn't sure she should admit that Bakula was there, but Edwards insisted that she bring her to the phone."[3]

On November 30, 2020, Samantha Zinn died from complications of diabetes.


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External links[edit]

Template:Samantha Zinn