Tamron Hall feels she’s heading into the “second prime of her life” as a first-time mother, newlywed and talk show host — the realization of a destiny she dreamed of as a child, growing up in Texas watching the local news.
The self-proclaimed “straight shooter” was in town recently to promote her nationally syndicated daytime talk show that debuts Monday. Based in New York and distributed by Disney, “Tamron Hall” will air in Chicago weekdays at 4 p.m. on WCIU-Channel 26 and 8 p.m. on The U, Channel 26.2.
“In my heart [home] isn’t defined as one place,” said the former Chicagoan. “It doesn’t feel like I’m visiting … from the moment I get off the plane.”
Hall spent 10 years at Chicago’s WFLD-Channel 32 before becoming a national correspondent for NBC News and an anchor for MSNBC in 2007.
“I tell people I got my soul in Chicago,” said Hall, noting her time in the city gave her confidence. “I was 27 when I moved here with my convertible white Sebring on a lease. I thought I knew everything!
“I look back [and see] I had to learn, I had to fail, I had to rise up again, I had to fail again to get to where I am [today].”
A lot of painful learning occurred in February 2017, when Hall, the first black female weekday anchor for “Today,” made headlines by abruptly leaving when a reshuffling of show and talent line-ups showcasing new hire Megyn Kelly seemed like a demotion for Hall.
“When your back is against the wall you feel it. And to pretend that you don’t is also damaging,” said Hall about her transparency during the ordeal. “I had to embrace how hard that was. And of course, I was embarrassed. I thought I was doing a great job!”
Describing honesty as key in her ability to heal and move forward, Hall was more focused on her own decisions and how she would react as opposed to worrying what others or the public thought.
“There’s a saying that your rear view mirror is smaller than your front windshield for a reason because looking back should be small. Looking forward should be wide and open,” said Hall. “And that’s how I approach difficult times and the advice I give to people.”
At age 48 and as the mom of four-month-old Moses, Hall is “more aware of what [she brings] to the table.” Despite the challenges facing female empowerment in the workplace, she’s “embraced the journey and the impact [she’s experienced by] trying to be [her] authentic self.”
Having spent the last two years on a cross-country speaking tour, Hall plans on staking the success of her show on the authenticity that was a draw for everyday people who attended her talks. She says she’s a student and a fan of past daytime hosts — citing Mike Douglas, Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, Rolonda Watts, Jenny Jones and Ricki Lake — but says above all, “I need to be myself.”
“I need to stand on my own two feet,” said Hall, making a clear distinction between inspiration and imitation. “If I’m going to create the show that I hope will make people proud, I need to seek the advice of people around the country. The show that the people want is the one I want to create.”
Hall acknowledges she isn’t going to veer too far from the traditional talk platform and will rely on her “unique perspective in the journey” she’s lived to make it distinctive.
“There’s nothing wrong with talk, I don’t have to reinvent it,” said Hall with a chuckle. “I’m not inventing an iPhone. I’m not giving us a new technology that never existed before!”
More than anything, Hall hopes to highlight the connections at the root of the human condition that are similar despite who the viewer is and where the viewer may live.
“That’s one of the things I hope to bring to the show, that just because I’m a black woman does not mean that I only relate to black women [even if] people would allow us to believe that,” said Hall.
Her experiences in a tough business have only sharpened her sense of self and fearlessness. “I wish I could say that I’m never afraid,” said Hall. “Now with my son it’s added pressure. … I have sleepless nights like anyone else. But I try to live knowing I’ll be OK no matter how this plays out. It will be OK.”