Power of Women
When Tamron Hall was in high school, she dreamed of becoming a TV reporter. Today, she sits on the set of a nationally syndicated talk show with her name prominently displayed over her right shoulder
When Tamron Hall was in high school, she dreamed of becoming a TV reporter. Today, she sits on the set of a nationally syndicated talk show with her name prominently displayed over her right shoulder and with an Emmy Award sitting pretty on her left.
“It is still surreal to look back and my name is on this board, and it’s not the name of the network,” Hall says glancing over her shoulder before admitting that she never imagined her dreams would manifest quite this way.
“I don’t take it lightly,” she adds. “I could never have imagined [this], but there is not a moment of it that I will waste.”
With her daytime talk show now in its third season, the veteran journalist is looking back on her 30-year career in a keynote conversation during the Variety Power of Women Summit, presented by Lifetime.
Part of what makes the host’s interviews stand out is her candor and empathy, making her not only relatable to her audience (that she affectionally refers to as the “Tam Fam”), but also to her subjects.
The root of her interview style, Hall explains, comes from “watching other women and other people of color not be humanized in these very halls and rooms where I sit.”
Using the recent documentaries on Britney Spears as an example, she continued: “I cried at the end of it, and I couldn’t believe that those were some of the jokes on TV, that that’s how she was covered. … I left watching that embarrassed, and in shock, but reminded of how women have been marginalized and made into caricatures and memes — and Britney’s just one name.”
While Hall can’t right the wrongs of the past, she’s working to use the power of this platform to change the future.
“I am sitting here in this chair, so when I interview [someone], I will provide you the grace and the space to be a human because that’s what we all want. And that’s what we have not always seen afforded to women, afforded to Black women, afforded to people of color.”
The “Tamron Hall Show” has been that safe space for people like Billy Porter to come on to discuss his HIV status, or for a supermodel like Tyra Banks to open up about her insecurities, or Variety‘s Power of Women honoree Amanda Gorman to do her first daytime interview. Another powerful interview took place last season with actor Michael K. Williams, who discussed his struggles with drug addiction.
Hall tearfully paid tribute to the late actor after he died last month, growing emotional recounting her interactions with him in this interview.
“I was blessed enough to have an experience that reminded me of my purpose and why I’m doing this show and why I will keep on doing whatever I can to make people feel that they are welcome to the table,” she said.
Hall’s path to this marquee moment hasn’t been without its ups and downs. After becoming the first Black woman to anchor the “Today” show, the veteran journalist was fired. But the sudden shift ultimately turned into an important lesson.
“After I got fired, I said to myself, I was never going to go into an office and grovel for a job again,” Hall recalled. “I did that and I would never do it again. I went in with a list of the accomplishments that I thought mattered. And not that they didn’t, but they weren’t of value that day. But they have value today.”
“We’re all going to get knocked down on the mat. It takes a little longer to get up sometimes, but you do,” she continued. “And when it was time for me to get this talk show — which if you’d talked to 27-year-old me, I’d be like, ‘I’m so ready,’ I wasn’t ready.”
But through decades of hard work, listening, learning and sometimes getting knocked down, Hall is finally ready to have the tough conversations her audience deserves and to fight to tell stories the way she wants to tell them. “I hadn’t lived perhaps enough, but now I am where I’m supposed to be.”
For more about the life lessons Hall has learned from her career, watch the full interview above.