Whether hosting MSNBC's "NewsNation", guest-hosting "The Today Show," or anchoring NBC News and OWN's "Dateline," Tamron Hall prides herself on telling the untold or forgotten stories. This Sunday, the award-winning journalist adds another platform upon to do just that. Premiering at 9/8c on the Investigation Discovery channel, the Texas native's latest show, "DEADLINE: CRIME WITH TAMRON HALL," gives a voice to unsolved crime victims' families.
Sadly, being touched by a heinous and unresolved crime is something Hall knows all too well. In 2004, her older sister, Renate, a victim of domestic violence, was murdered, and the killer was never brought to justice. EBONY.com caught up with the busiest woman on television to discuss the passion behind her latest show and what she feels is the calling on her life.
EBONY: Congratulations on your latest show! On "DEADLINE: CRIME" you're dealing with an issue that's really close to your heart. How did the idea of the show come about?
TAMRON HALL: Well the idea for the show wasn't something that I had planned or was in the front of my mind at all. I actually had a meeting with the head of Discovery Communications and we were talking about different concepts and different ideas. I had been doing "Dateline" on OWN and we talked about some of my interests and the story of my sister and her unsolved murder entered the conversation. We were talking about family and our backgrounds and it just kind of grew from that moment.
EBONY: You've talked a lot in the past about your sister's tragic death and have been a spokesperson for domestic violence awareness and now with this platform to bring awareness to other unsolved crimes, has this show helped in your own healing process?
TH: It's less about my healing and more about many of the families we come in contact with. A lot of the stories that I personally cover for this show are families who have unresolved issues. I speak with one of our families, a mother and father whose daughter was tragically murdered on the front lawn of their home. This man was a semi-truck driver who broke into tears feeling helpless that he could not protect his daughter, his only daughter. And I related that so much to my father's dealing following the passing of my sister. It's about my father, my siblings and my sister's children. My sister had two sons and her youngest son is now a father and his child always asks when will he meet his grandma. [This show] is about the families' experiences.
I didn't want people to believe that I was somehow using my sister's death for a show because that is insane. That's what someone on Twitter said to me and I've not thought one time about that. I think about all of the families who have lost someone. It's layered. It's deep and the [Investigation Discovery] audience really gets into the stories from that perspective. They're not looking at the crimes, they're looking at the family, the names, the impact behind the crimes and I really think that's what engages that audience and pulls them in.
EBONY: Yes. And Twitter can be so great at times but can also just be terrible. Many people know that John Walsh launched "America's Most Wanted" after suffering the loss of his son and that show helped many families of victims of unsolved crimes.
TH: Oh, I shrugged [the comment] off, I just think it's unfortunate. But I quickly shook it off.
EBONY: Good. So tell us more about the show, what kind of stories are we going to be seeing?
TH: Well, there are 13 episodes and we're going to be showing a number of stories that may be familiar from the headlines for a lot of people and we really dig in. I traveled extensively for the stories. There are also correspondents that we have on the show because I can't be everywhere at all times. So there'll be stories that [the correspondents] are interested in and I'm interested in, as well. I found myself in Three Rivers, Michigan in a blizzard in the dead of winter and for another story, we're in the heat of Miami for a tragedy there so we cross the country and look for stories that we felt would touch people. And we even revisit some stories from the headlines.
There's a particular case that was brought to our attention from an organization who'd noticed that the number of missing African Americans, men and women, children, they're not in the headlines as much as White children, and there are statistics that prove that, that the media does not balance its coverage when the victim is of color, so this organization brought a case to our attention out of Atlanta and we tackle that and we mention [the racial imbalance in media coverage of the missing]. So we take on a number of topics and headlines from more perspectives.
EBONY: What do you hope to achieve, not just with this latest show, but in your career as a whole? What do you want to be your legacy?
TH: I'm a journalist. I see it as a calling. When people ask me is there anything else I want to do in my life, I say, "it's this or black jack dealer in Vegas and I don't know how to gamble." [Laughs] This is what I do. This is truly what I was meant to do and I want to connect with people and connect their stories with viewers. And that doesn't matter if I'm on the "Today Show" or MSNBC or DEADLINE. It's all about storytelling, telling these stories to people in a compelling way so that they can empathize. It's something I've always done in my life that is applicable on whatever platform. I truly love listening and telling the stories of others and I've been fortunate to be able to do this since was 18 years old. I consider it an honor.
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