There are many people from small towns who dream of making it big in their own way. Tamron Hall is one of those people whose determination catapulted her to the television screen nationwide from her humble beginnings in a small town in Texas. For Hall, making it big meant connecting to the characters she saw on her screen as a little girl. It meant decoding the world around her, asking tough questions and always staying true to her roots.
Hall hosts News Nation on MSNBC weekly from 2-3pm ET and appears as a guest host on Today. The award-winning journalist says that news has always been a part of her life; the connection to people and their stories has always been at the heart of her passion.
Outside of the newsroom, Hall is well known for her signature style, but can find humor even in that. She enjoys hanging out with her girlfriends and admits to having a true love affair with food. Hall is also national advocate against homelessness, illiteracy and domestic violence, a subject that hits very close to home for the host, who lost her sister in 2007. She has been recognized by Day One, a New York-based advocacy group for victims of domestic violence, for her support of their efforts.
Here, the news host talks about the news industry’s landscape, her interests, and the importance of hard work.
EBONY: Is there a particular moment or story that led you to realize news was the way you wanted to communicate with the world?
Tamron Hall: I wouldn’t say there was a moment or story but like many families back then, my family had 35 channels, and we’d spend our evenings in front of the TV, talking about the evening news. My dad was in the army so what was happening internationally and nationally was always important to my family. The thread that has always connected my family was the news. Looking back, I’ve always enjoyed hearing about the lives of other people, their experience through their jobs, their lives and their children. It’s always been a treat to hear about others.
EBONY: How have you seen the news industry change over time, particularly in regard to diversity?
TH: If it’s a company that’s moving in the right direction, you will walk into their corporation and see more Black people, more women, more Latinos and diversity in general. News cannot be an isolated island to examine diversity. What I would counter that idea with is to look at the diversity in life, and hopefully we’re seeing everywhere that there is more gender equality and representation of different backgrounds.
I love the complexity of hip-hop and the blues, but some of the messages and images in music present ideas of what women should be, not what we are.
EBONY: What do you think are some of the most important topics in our country today that can help move the national dialogue forward?
TH: The economy. This is what we know this will move the election. This is the question that people will ponder when they go to vote in November. We have millions of people without work, people that are at an age when they may never be able to reenter the work force other than with part time or jobs that don’t fit their skill set. Immigration and our dependency on oil are also important topics, but the economy will continue to be at the forefront.
EBONY: You lost your sister in 2007 to domestic violence and are a known advocate against domestic abuse. Cases like this sadly continue to happen, and many go unheard, particularly in the black community. How do you think we can help to fully address this issue and begin to grow and heal?
TH: The best that I think we can do part in our community is try to counter some of the images of women we are being fed. I love the complexity of hip-hop and the blues, but some of the messages and images in music present ideas of what women should be, not what we are. A lot of the images tell young women that we are objects, we are up for grabs, and we can be mistreated, misused and traded.
I do believe more women in positions of spreading information such as journalists have to find a way to connect with younger Black women and say ‘look, I have TI on my iPhone and I love Jay Z and even Young Jeezy, but some of these messages the music sends has got to be balanced in your head, because this is not a way of life.’ This notion that you can have everything you want if you can drop it low enough and the objectification that we’re seeing I believe adds to low self-esteem in women which can sometimes contribute to domestic abuse. Then some women find themselves in situations where they are too afraid to leave or unable to find support. We are presented with a unique situation