While many of us have been suffering through the third hour of Today Show for the past few months or tuning out altogether, beloved host Tamron Hall is on to better things and living her best life. About a year ago, Hall abruptly left the NBC network when news broke that the popular Today’s Take segment once hosted by Hall and a selection of other co-hosts was being replaced by The Megyn Kelly Show. Viewers apparently haven’t been the only ones suffering, as early ratings of the show were not favorable and Kelly continues to stumble through dark show topics which weirdly contrast with the morning’s positive vibe, her own awkwardly robotic nature, and incidents of passive aggression towards celebs like Jane Fonda. Hall recently sat down for an interview with Washington Post’s Jonathan Capeheart for his podcast “Cape Up” to talk about her experience learning how to be “unapologetically black” as a journalist.
When asked how she is able to connect to so many different kinds of people, Hall answered that comes from her very inclusive family hailing from Luling, Texas:
“People sense that I am very authentic to who I am but will always embrace who you are as well.”
When reflecting on stories passed down of her grandfather building up a reputation of respect that he demanded in a time of racism and terrorism by the KKK in the South, Hall says she’s taken many lessons from her grandfather’s legacy:
“Life is complex and you can demand respect and not get it and sometimes you demand it and you get it. That’s part of the tapestry I hope to bring to my profession and who I am as a human being and beyond anything we do on TV.”
When Hall was asked to give her definition of what it means to be “unapologetically black” she says it’s more about being proud of your culture without diminishing any other culture:
“Some believe, if you are too pro-your-community, you’re anti-someone else’s. And we will shrink away from those conversations.”
“We want to be at the table because of our talent, because of our hard work. We never want to be at the table because we are black. And so sometimes, we shrink away from those things that make us special because of who we are as black people.”
She notes that however being “unapologetically American” is more complicated because of the melting pot that the country is supposed to symbolize appearing differently to everyone:
“No party, no race owns our military. No party, no race owns patriotism. It means everything different, and everything similar to all of us.”
“When I say that I unapologetically love this country, you can love something or someone, and see all of their flaws, and see all of their beauty at the same time. That’s love. That’s the unconditional love of this country that my father fought for.”
“As black Americans, whether it’s through the Black Panther movement, whether it’s the civil rights movement, we’ve been painted as being un-American. The fact of it is, there are American laws that have been used to oppress us, but we still love this country.”
“When Colin Kaepernick takes a knee, why can’t we say that is not against America, and listen to what he has to say? You may not agree with it, but to drape yourself in the flag and say he’s a bad, evil guy, that’s just to me wrong.”
The 47-year-old went on to reflect on her earliest experiences in journalism taking place while she attended Temple University in Philadelphia and was offered an internship opportunity by boxer Joe Frazer who had connections with black-owned cable television distributor Wade Cablevision. She eventually went on to cover local college sports but said even then she had some demands:
“I said I would love an internship but I’ve gotta get paid and that’s why I did not work at my student radio station because it was like, ‘You didn’t get paid?’ And I was like, ‘Oh that’s cute, but I need to get paid.'”
Hall went on to build a name for herself as a journalist in Chicago doing consumer reporting before being offered a spot on the TODAY Show (an opportunity her mother predicted almost a year to her date of hire) sometime later. She recalls a moment when former co-anchor Savannah Guthrie told her to take a mean spirited tweet that referred to her as “Token Hall” as a sign that she had made it to the big leagues:
“That was the hard and real awakening I had entering this world of national newscast.”
Hall also took some time to reflect on being hired at the leading morning news show and being the first African-American woman to host an hour of the TODAY Show as well as the first to anchor Nightly News when filling in for Lester Holt noting that she was “blown away”.
When asked how it felt to leave the TODAY Show she answers with no hesitation:
“Great. It felt great. It felt great to have an opportunity to pursue my next chapter. It felt great to decided what was best for me.”
“There’s a saying about there’s a reason that your front windshield is way bigger than your rearview mirror because the past is supposed to be small and your future is supposed to be large.”
“What’s relevant to me is I was able to choose my next step.”
Hall is determined to mold her career in a way that suits her own satisfaction and says it’s not because she’s at a loss for job offers:
“I could have been back on TV the next day.
”What I hope is a wonderful return to television in the way I want to return.”
You can listen to the full podcast and Hall’s thoughts on being the next Oprah as well as what she believes gets in the way of most people’s dreams here.