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I actually just wanted to start off by asking you about boxing, because I know that you.
You know what? It's interesting. I have not had an opportunity to get back into the gym, as you well know, due to the pandemic. And I feel a tad bit out of sorts. I turned 50 a few. I guess it's now two months since I turned 50 and I can't wait. That is something that I missed because it is such a metaphor for my life, not just my professional life, but my personal life. And I miss it.
I miss it terribly. So you've got to come to the gym when we can finally get in the gym again.
What do you mean? It's a metaphor for your personal life. Do you like hitting things?
Not. Quite the contrary. I'm used to being bad against, you know, like you don't. Jerry, when you get in the ring, someone is always the underdog. You know, there can only be one winner when you get in a ring or get out of the ring. At the end of the day, you start to read and see things that paint someone like you as being the underdog. And does that stuff come out for you when you're boxing?
It doesn't come out? I'm not I mean, it's not a therapy session, but when you are boxing, your focus has to be on each move. And life is so it's a blessed life is less about punching and more about the pivot. And in boxing, I know that people think the strongest or the person with the mightiest punch leaves the ring the winner. But it's not. It's often the counterpunch. It's the pivot. It's the turn.
It's knowing when to duck. It's when to stick and move. And that's so much of life for me, knowing when it's time to move and knowing when it's time and the space is open for you to stick it. I love that that is a metaphor. That's great. I wasn't expecting, like an actual metaphor. That was genius.
You're in your second season and it's a Thursday. Does that mean that you just shot and filmed two episodes, two shows?
And I just filmed an acceptance speech for an award that I have received that I'm so honored to be the recipient of the Black Women in Media Media Person of the Year award. So I taped that virtual acceptance speech. That's all something new for all of us. And I just got into my home and ran in and opened an Amazon box of new toys for my 18 month old. We're trying to keep them stimulated in this very isolated world that is now his existence.
So I opened up a hedgehog that encourages you. It's a sensory hedgehog game and a tambourine, which he is now downstairs learning Shake, Shake, Shake songs. And now I'm upstairs talking to you.
I think you're going to maybe regret the tambourine. Tell me what you've learned from your first season of doing the show and what big lessons you're taking into this second season from that.
Oh, wow. When I first pitched the show, I went in with the idea of having a show where you could have a conversation about any and everything. That's how I grew up. I grew up in a very open household where there was no question that was off limits. So for me, when I launched the show, I said, OK, let's talk about it. There should be nothing off limits. We should be able to have a conversation each and every day.
What I underestimated was the amount of time that had passed between the last traditional talk shows and the fun variety daytime shows that we all love. So I think that's the biggest lesson that I've learned is, again, going back to you, asking me about boxing. You cannot give in to. The voices who are unconvinced, you know, and I think that's what I've learned in the second season, to lean in on my instincts, to lean in on my Kivett.
To lean in on 50 years of being a woman and watching a lot of TV. When you say that's really interesting, don't give up, don't give in, rather to the voices, who how did you present? Don't give in to the voices who don't get it.
The intention is that, you know, listen, getting into syndicated TV, the one of the first things you're given, I should say, is the list of people who did not last past the first season. And then you're given the list of the people who did not get past the second season. So the entire design of it. Is to discourage you. You know, no one really. Said, yes, this will work. Why would they try to discourage the people involved?
I think it's because so many shows have failed with huge names, with huge budgets and finding that secret sauce, finding that right mix has been elusive for some time. By no means did we reinvent the wheel here. I just followed the template from people that I've admired my entire career. Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore, of course, Oprah Winfrey. Our show happens to air on the own network. Can you imagine how that felt for me to get the green light that the show would air on the Oprah Winfrey Network, but also Phil Donahue?
All of these shows that I've watched and grown up with, both professionally and personally, added to my confidence that we are capable of having conversations every day with each other. Going back to just recently the non binary show we did, I had people who were members are members of the LGBTQ plus community, say to me that they don't fully understand the non binary journey. People of a certain age over 50 have a couple of friends who are over 50 who always thought, you know what, I'm gay, and that's where it ends.
And they said, you know these kids and actually you wait a minute, you're LGBTQ and you are admitting to me that you don't quite understand. Wow. There are days where I have to take a step back and pause and fully absorb what this journey means for someone else. I gave the example of the anniversary of Stonewall. I was giving a speech and I said something to the crowd along the lines of We are all brothers and sisters. And I paused and looked out at the crowd and I felt like a relic and 50.
Wait a minute, Tamron, you got to catch up. You know, that's what you said 15 years ago. That's not what you say today, because at the end of the day, you are. You are. Not being as inclusive as you might think you are with that one statement when you were giving that speech and you realize that in the middle of it. Did you react? My body reacted, I went into a full panic, my heart started to race, and I was horrified that here I am, I have the honor of being on the stage at this phenomenal event.
And I've had this slip up. I've had this moment where I wasn't as cool and as aware as I believe I am. My intention was not to, of course, not recognize the non binary community. It was just out of habit, out of sincere habit of saying we're brothers and sisters. And in that moment, I realized that that's not what you say. And here I am, a journalist, someone with a diverse background, someone with a friends circle that is extremely diverse.
And I slipped up and I thought, OK, let me use my show to educate people, but also admit that that slip up did not mean that I wasn't aware or sympathetic or understanding or an ally. And that's something that we try to tackle in our show, just as we did with the conversation of women of color and white women, these means about Karens or the trope about angry black women. I really want to ask you about the Andrew Gillham interview, which you kicked off your second season with.
And we're getting our first look at evidence from the overdose emergency involving former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Guillen.
And we're talking about a very messy hotel room with drugs scattered everywhere.
Local news reporter. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got that interview to happen or how you mustered up the courage to ask really difficult questions of a person who is in a really vulnerable state? There's one point at which he's crying and he's off camera and you say he's crying off camera. So really take us through that interview a little bit for anyone who hasn't seen it.
Well, first, thank you for that compliment. I really appreciate that you recognize how difficult of an interview that is for a journalist, especially in a show that is an entertainment show. The minute I saw his post on social media, I knew I would be the right person for them to share their story with.
What did that post say that made you think that? It wasn't what he said, it was what was not there. His wife, he referenced her, but she wasn't in the picture. And I felt that the story or the complete picture had to include her. And I assumed that many people were going after him and wanted to hear his part of the story. And I felt that after a steady diet, twenty five thirty years of journalism where the woman was always the also ran, I wanted to approach it very different.
And do you think that you approaching it that way enabled you to get the interview and her trust?
I do. I think. And I thought at the time, getting her trust was very important as he seemed ready to speak based on his social media post, something she had not done.
What about that interview surprised you the most?
Everything, and I don't say that lightly. I was stunned by their openness when they revealed that from. Really, day one, they had what she referred to as a covenant in their relationship that others were unaware of. I was floored. You and I both know that there were people on social media and in the rumor circle that assumed she was this wife who had no idea and nothing. She's blindsided. You know, she's in a corner wondering how did this all happen when in fact.
Prior to their marriage, as they revealed in the interview, Andrew shared with her that he is bisexual.
That was a really remarkable part of the interview, I have to say, I, I, I was stunned by that part. And then I'm wondering, you know, you spoke about kind of bringing unlikely people together or tackling subjects that are uncomfortable, let's say, friendships between white women and black women or or this bisexual marriage that nobody knew about this very publicized political marriage. Do you feel any sort of responsibility as a host and as a journalist to heal or to bring people together as a part of your mission?
No, because that's a mission. I would fail and I'm on a daily basis trying to heal myself. I I have a tumultuous relationship with my biological father that I've never spoken about. I have siblings I've never met. I'm a work in progress like anyone else. I don't say that to make me relatable. I'm not that host that is prepared to reveal every painful experience. That I've encountered to help someone else, that's not my center, that's not my focus.
I simply and honestly would like to provide people a platform and a place to share their story.
Do you think of yourself as someone who asks questions that other people are afraid to ask? Yes, I do. Matthew McConaughey came on last week. He's written a phenomenal memoir. At the beginning of the book, he lists all of these different things that happened to him, two of which. We're very horrifying being sexually molested at the age of 18, knocked unconscious in the back of a van, the other was what he referred to as being bribed into a sexual situation at the age of 15.
The rest of the memoir, he never referenced it again.
In my interview with him, I said, I'm curious, why didn't you go into more detail? Good question.
Ultimately, you know, as a journalist, when someone says that's a good question, you know, you're always taken aback when I ask the question here. And so I wasn't afraid to ask the question. And I believe he saw that, which is why he answered honestly.
You're very forthcoming and about your life, like whether that's on Instagram or any the interviews on. Well, right. So it seems like, you know, it seems like you are. But I've also heard you say that people mistake privacy for secrecy. And you didn't share your pregnancy, for example, for thirty two weeks. So you have an interesting relationship to. You know, revealing yourself and keeping yourself private individual. How do you navigate those two things?
Because I think you you're constantly toggling between those two, as far as I can tell.
You're absolutely right. I am torn every time I post a picture of my son. I know that people are excited to see him and I like it. Mom, he does a little shimmy through a pumpkin patch. I put it on social media because you want to share your joy. But I also know, you know, the feeling of posting a picture of my son and someone in the comments section saying, why is this I, you know, so close in?
Does he have Down syndrome? That happened and it wasn't hurtful because if he were diagnosed with anything, he still might if he, you know, has anything that is a challenge before him, that's OK. Mama and Papa are going to work it out. He doesn't have or has not been diagnosed with anything like that, but that another human being would write that on his photo of just a Christmas picture was jarring. And that's why I. I have one foot in and one foot out.
I'm from Texas, I don't have that type of personality. I'm more inclined to want to find where you live versus delete your comment. So I choose not to put too much out there or the ruling Texas girl, you know, comes out. And all I can think about for the rest of the night is my husband is trying to call me down is who are they out of? I get to their house.
Social media has opened up this whole realm for people to tell their own story. For example, when you left the Today Show under what seems like acrimonious terms, were you able to turn to that to reaffirm your relationship with your fans and your narrative? Absolutely.
Listen, I like you. We've seen women especially come and go in this business, women of a certain age, certainly. And, you know, 10 years prior, 15 years prior, I would have been the person that you ran into at a store and maybe ask me or wondered to yourself, whatever happened to Tamron? Oh, there she is. Oh. Or someone might say, oh, I saw her at a festival. Oh, she look great or.
Oh yeah, she's married now. Your life would become the oh whatever happened to her. And there were many women and our men and women in this business that I greatly admire who were let go replaced and or let go or replaced and did not rebound in this business. I never said goodbye to the audience. I was the first black woman to ever host the Today show in the 62 year history and I wasn't able to say goodbye. I woke up the next morning very cloudy, very uncertain, and it was the power of my own social media that enabled me to connect with the audience, to say my goodbye and to say what I was doing next.
And people followed the journey. My social media following actually increased more rapidly off air than it had while I was on air, which I found so intriguing.
What did you take that to mean? That were you liberated to be a more honest version of yourself once you're off, the Today show wasn't liberation or I didn't feel liberated.
I felt that there was some part of that journey, people related to whether it was being demoted, being moved from a job, being forty seven and wondering what's next. There was some part of it that. Opened the door to a relationship that I always felt existed at one point in time I was doing. For I, was it seven shows on four different networks, there were days that I was on the nine o'clock hour of the Today Show, I ran over to do MSNBC.
Forty five minutes later and my show on Discovery idea was airing at the same time. So out West, the Today show would be on. I would be live on MSNBC and there inevitably be a deadline Klein marathon on Investigation Discovery. Three networks, one person. And I said to myself, how do I take all of this and build one show with these different relationships that I've had with people from being a reporter to an anchor? All of this and social media and the following and the reaction that I was reading was the the confirmation.
I guess is the best way to put it, the confirmation that I was looking for, that I maybe didn't even realize I was looking for when you went to staff your own show, you know, I noticed you you went out of your way to make sure that representation was important in the staffing in terms of who you hired.
Why is that stuff important? I think it's obvious I mean, you are a white woman in the business, you know how it feels to walk into a room with all men. Imagine what it feels like to be a black woman and walk into a room with all white women. This isn't new to any of us. We all know it and we all know why. It's important. The best of any journey is when we can include more people. So when I started to staff the show, I really wanted that staff to reflect my friends circle.
What kind of conversations do you guys have on the staff that reflect this coming together of different perspectives? Can you give me an example?
Absolutely. Oh my gosh. Motherhood, womanhood, mom, guilt. We're doing a big show coming up on what is what is womanhood. You know, I remember when I had Moses, a friend said to me, welcome to the club. And I kind of pushed back and I said, I don't want to be in a club now. I'm in my womanhood is not defined by my motherhood. There are two very separate things. I'm independent. I've, you know, paid my own rent.
I've made my own way. I am a woman. I'm a grown woman, as Beyonce says. And so for me, it was and is important that we have these real conversations, which is why for over an hour and a half, my staff, which is over 40 percent women, the creative staff, maybe even more than that, maybe 60 percent. We had a very raw and real behind the scenes conversation about womanhood. And what does that really mean?
I heard someone the other day say something along the lines of she's a career woman. That was so jarring that in the year twenty twenty someone said career woman. But then I thought back to my faux pas at the Stonewall anniversary and I said, Brotherhood, sisterhood. That remark about career women wasn't meant to demean, it's just a reminder of how we are all very much a part of what we've been fed a steady diet for so long. Some of those things are good and some of those things are bad and some of those things are evolving.
So when you are with your staff and something like that comes up as a manager, how do you address that? Do you bring it to that person individually or do you raise it as a group question?
You know, so far we haven't had anything like that happen. But I believe if it did, we have a very communal energy. And I think with our environment, because I have worked in, you know, places, particularly at the network level where you are a part of a machine, we operate our show as best we can as a family. I mean, it's so you know, I think you're right. You use the word liberating. And I said it wasn't that that is exactly what it is.
It's liberating. You know, I know. And I'm sorry I said it wasn't. It is. It absolutely is. And maybe I'm fully I'm you're like a therapist to me now. I'm working it out in my head. Well, let's talk a little bit about beauty and fashion, because and I've seen your closet, so I'm envious.
I wish you could see the closet I'm sitting in right now.
You know, the kitchen thing. The kitchen table is awesome. I think that you are one of the more vibrant dressed. Let's just say you take more risks on TV. You have clearly a lot more interest in high fashion when you make a hair change, for example, not wearing your hair blown out.
It's like national news.
And, you know, tell me, like when you accepted your Emmy on Instagram, your hair was not blown out and I could tell that you were quite self-conscious about it. Is that because of the criticism that you receive in moments like that? No, it's because I had like a glass of wine and my mascara was running and I just want my child. I wasn't I was I was in a robe. That was why I was so self-conscious. And like, I think most women who, you know, on television or who are presented a certain way every day, I was more like vulnerable because of that.
I truly had had I think I was either on my way to have a second glass or maybe a third. I was about to shower. I just want my son to sleep. And I was more insecure. And I'll use the word insecure because you're in my bedroom. But my hair, you know, I kind of got over that a while ago. I don't think I'm more vibrantly dressed. I think Kelly Ripa is hands down the most stylish woman on television.
Do you have a go to power outfit or like a favorite, you know, Alexandria, because Cortez wears her red lipstick when she needs to go to Congress and feel powerful. What's your version of the red lipstick?
My version of the red lipstick is the color yellow. Or which I wore on my season two premier white, the color white for me. And. I think. It would be the Color Purple. I have three colors that I. When I'm feeling when I feel the need to have that extra exterior reinforcement is what I call it. Those are the three colors I go to. When you were growing up in Luling, that's a small town. Were you always glamorous?
Did you have that self concept even as a child?
Of course I wore braces for seven years. My nickname was Chicken Legs. I had poofy, frizzy, unmanageable hair that my mother wouldn't let me get a relaxer on until I was about 15. No, I was. And I was not a cute kid. My parents thought so, but I don't think anyone else did. Gangly and awkward.
So what caused you to find that in yourself? I don't have any idea that's I think you grow and you evolve and you learn your strengths, both exterior and interior. I think that externally and internally, I should say, no, I don't know. I, I think cutting my hair short was both empowering, but also, I believe, a part of my beauty identity. I have had people many times write me or ask me, why not grow my hair out or I'd be much prettier if my hair were longer.
I just did a match to Diana Ross and so many people. Why don't you grow your hair out? Why? I cut my hair when I was 18. My boyfriend at the time had a crush on the singer, Anita Baker. And I wanted to get as close to his crush as possible because I think I liked him a lot more than he liked me. And it was the best decision I've ever made for a man in my life. The relationship ended, but I got a signature hair cut out of it.
But I think my my identity is more for me in my hair than my clothing. But it's not. Whether it's natural or straight, it's more the push back, I think, that I've received because it is so short. In my limited experience, you're really good at being on TV, and I say that as someone who is very, very bad at being on TV.
At one time I had a media consultant tell me that the key to being on TV is to imagine yourself as the best clown at the circus. And every time I have to go on TV, I think of that. But you do not have that presence on TV.
So many newscasters, by the way, I think do have that. And when I was you told me that I started to see the entire newscasting experience, a totally different lens. But when I watch you, I really don't have that feeling. Is there something you do or tap into to psych yourself up or to be more authentic on air? Or is that just come naturally to you? You know what, I think it comes naturally to me every time I've tried to be someone or something else.
I feel phony, even someone will write a script with four or five puns and I'm like, I'm not reading that, I'm not going to read that.
And I think it comes from knowing that my I'm 50. So there are a lot of people who know me. That's a lot of years of friends that I've gathered, a lot of family members watching. And I, I think fear ending a show and having my mother or my aunt call me and say, Are you kidding me? That's B.S. or that's not you. And that is you do not want to southern women on a phone call as soon as you get off air saying we are going to call a family meeting because that person is not who we raised.
That's not you. But who is someone that makes you nervous? You've interviewed everybody, you've interviewed Barack Obama, just like everyone in the world who makes you nervous. Celebrities don't make me nervous or people are so-called real people do. Because they are not always equipped or prepared for the reaction to their story, and I know that a question that's presented in an awkward way for me or a reaction from me or a question that I forget to ask or I don't ask, can have a great impact on their life.
And I hope that. Very near and dear to my heart. They are I am their connection to the viewer, so I get more nervous because I want to take care of them, I want especially if it's someone who's sharing something traumatic or something difficult, I want to take care of them. I don't want to cross any lines. I'm not a therapist. I'm not there to fix someone's life and all of these other things. But I do get nervous when there's someone who doesn't have media training or there is someone who is sharing the most difficult part of their journey with me and the audience.
That's a tough one, because I've seen it backfire. I've seen people go into interviews thinking, I'll tell my story and they leave vilified or they leave regretting the interview going back to even though they are celebrities or people who live their life in public, I should say, the Gillham. One of the things I said to them is I hope this is an interview that when your children are in their 20s or 30s, you can air and show them and explain to them what happened.
Do you think you achieved that with that interview? I think did. Have you talked to them since then? I haven't. I sent them a thank you card, which is what I try to do with all of our guests. That's something I believe that I learned a lot from Oprah, but I learned from Stedman Graham, who in my early years in the 90s was a guest on a local show that I did. And he wrote a personal thank you card.
And I thought, I will write Henry, thank you cards. Now, granted, I didn't know that we'd have Evites and all of these other things. Now, that was in 1990. But I try to keep my promise to write as many handwritten thank you letters to the people who live their life in the public spotlight and those who don't. They all have one thing in common. They've come on our show, but I have not spoken with them.
But I hope that, you know, when their sons and daughter are in their 20s and they Google or whatever the technology is at that time and they're curious about their father's journey, they stumble upon my interview and they see someone who was fair. Mm hmm. I really think they will know that after your first visit, after your first season, you called Oprah for some advice. Can you give us any details what that advice was?
Not if I want to live. Well, now I really want to know.