On this week’s In Her Shoes, editor-at-large Stella Bugbee speaks with Emmy-winning television talk show host Tamron Hall. Hall made daytime television history when she became the first Black woman to host the Today show in 2014. Now, the journalist hosts her own eponymous daytime program, The Tamron Hall Show, now in its second season. In this podcast episode, Hall talks about leaving Today, striking out and finding success on her own, and the lessons to be learned from boxing.
TAMRON: I miss boxing, because it is such a metaphor for my life. Not just my professional life, but my personal life, and I miss it.
STELLA: What do you mean it’s a metaphor for your personal life? Do you like hitting things?
TAMRON: Quite the contrary. I’m used to being bet against. When you get in the ring, someone is always the underdog. 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.
STELLA: And does that stuff come out for you when you’re boxing?
TAMRON: It doesn’t come out. It’s not a therapy session, but when you’re boxing, your focus has to be on each move. Life is less about punching and more about the pivot. And in boxing, I know that people think the person with the mightiest punch leaves the ring the winner, but it’s not so. It’s often not the punch. It’s the pivot. It’s the counter 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 to stick it.
Tamron talks starting her own daytime talk show after leaving Today and what it has been like going into her second season.
STELLA: Tell me what you learned from your first season of doing the show and what big lessons you’re taking into the second season.
TAMRON: When I first pitched it, I went in with the idea of having a show where you could have a conversation about anything 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. For me, when I launched the show, I said, ‘Okay, 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. I think that’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is again. Going back to boxing again, you cannot give in to the voices who are unconvinced. I think that’s what I’ve learned this second season — to lean in on my instincts, to lean in on my pivot, to lean in on 50 years of being a woman and watching a lot of TV.
Here, Hall discusses her recent hour-long interview with former politician Andrew Gillum and his wife, R. Jai, regarding scandalous headlines that ultimately ended the former Tallahassee mayor’s career.
STELLA: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got that interview to happen? How did you muster 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. Take us through that interview a little bit for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
TAMRON: Well, first, thank you for that compliment. I really appreciate that you recognize how difficult of an interview that is for journalists, especially in 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.
STELLA: What did that post say that made you think that?
TAMRON: 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 of 25, 30 years of journalism where the woman was always the ‘also ran.’ I wanted to approach it very differently.
STELLA: And do you think that you approaching it that way enabled you to get the interview and her trust?
TAMRON: I do. And I thought at the time getting her trust was very important, as he seemed ready to speak based on his social-media posts — something she had not done.
STELLA: What about that interview surprised you the most?
TAMRON: Everything. And I don’t say that lightly. I was stunned by their openness. When they revealed that, from day one, they’d 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. She was blindsided. She was in a corner wondering how all this happened, when in fact prior to their marriage — as they revealed in the interview — Andrew shared with her that he is bisexual.
To hear more about Hall’s career and the second season of her show, listen below, and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.