Tamron Hall’s journey to daytime success
GRIO EXCLUSIVE: Tamron Hall continues to build on her success in daytime TV. Here's why she's been able to make it work
If fortitude, resilience, and ability to pivot were a woman, she’d be Tamron Hall. First, in 2016, her good friend Prince died. Then, in February 2017, Hall, the stalwart anchor and correspondent for NBC for the prior decade, opted not to renew her contract. Despite having the experience, the work ethic, and the ratings, Hall was pushed out for then-Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, TV’s reigning mean girl, who NBC offered a mega million-dollar contract to host a daytime show.
“They made [Kelly] an offer she shouldn’t refuse. And they made me an offer I could refuse,” Hall told Good Morning America at the time.
She rebounded quickly, signing on to a syndicated show with The Weinstein Company. Consider how fast the world moves – in early 2017, that looked like a good thing, until allegations about Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct with women, including sexual assault and rape, broke in an explosive New York Times article in October of that same year.
Hall confronted Weinstein about the “horrifying” allegations and when the Weinstein Company was effectively dissolved, moved on to a Disney-ABC syndicated deal that ultimately turned into The Tamron Hall Show. Then in the midst of Hall’s first season, the world was hit with the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet the veteran journalist, who turned 50 last month, emerged triumphant, winning an Emmy and a Gracie Award for outstanding women in media, dedicating the award to Breonna Taylor in her acceptance speech. This week, the show announced its third season renewal. And, in a gutsy move despite those accolades, when the show’s first season ended, Hall let go of 20 staffers, which some media outlets likened to a “bloodbath.” As reported by theGrio, Hall said the changes were needed to improve the show.
“Like any other show, like any other product, people make changes and we did after the season had wrapped. Not during, not while. So this notion that I ran off securing bags, it’s not true,” she said.
Hall continued: “It is absolutely not and the notion that I’ve abandoned people, it’s not. I have a right, and every person who runs a company, owns a company, has anything that is yours, you have a right to make it better.”
Daytime TV is extremely competitive and has had its casualties. Queen Latifah, (who tried twice) Anderson Cooper, and Tyra Banks to name a few, are marquee names that tried to make daytime shows work. More Black women including Wendy Williams and multiple others on The Talk, The View, and The Real have joined the space but it remains even more of a challenge to hold an audience’s attention in a now-crowded field. So far, Hall has done it.
After months of broadcasting from home, she returned to the studio with a virtual audience and came out of the gate with big ‘gets.’ Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum revealed he’s bisexual on the season’s debut episode. Former Vanderpump Rules star Stassi Schroeder gave Hall her first interview about the racially motivated incident that got her fired.
And The Tamron Hall Show will now re-air on the OWN Network, a full-circle moment for Hall who first met Oprah Winfrey when she was 27. Often likened to the billionaire media mogul, it’s a fair comparison due to their combination of strong journalism skills and a focus on empowerment rather than dysfunction. Though the deal came about primarily due to the relationship Hall’s current executive producer, Candi Carter, had with Winfrey after working for her for years, Hall says she sees the deal as a stamp of approval for her work.
“I have a relationship with Oprah and I believe she would’ve passed on the show if she didn’t think it was a good show, Hall said in a phone conversation during a recent day of media interviews. “Oprah shared on my show in the beginning of the year that she believes in me and my team and believes in the work the show is doing — she’s been very supportive.”
Gillum’s and his wife R. Jai’s appearance was spearheaded by happenstance. Hall ran into Gillum leaving her hotel while attending the Tyler Perry Studio opening gala in Atlanta last fall. And she and R. Jai had a mutual friend in common.
“After seeing Andrew’s story trending, I felt it would be a powerful way to start the new season because so much of the show I wanted to bring to people was centered around ‘the conversation,’ sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes difficult, but always real,” Hall says.
The Gillum interview paid off in ratings and by going viral on social media, as did her interview with Schroeder, who denied she was a racist but admitted to being a ‘Karen,’ after she was fired from Vanderpump Rules for accusing her former co-star, Faith Stowers, of a robbery. After her interview with Hall aired, Schroeder said she was “unprepared.”
Hall responded by following up with a segment that Schroeder was fully informed about the topic and that she’d honored her request not to discuss comments Schroeder had also made about #Metoo, some of which Hall described as hurtful. Another reality star, NeNe Leakes, chose Hall to expand on her departure from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, crying while alleging that she was discriminated against and bullied while on the show.
Hall has never been unable to ask the tough questions. But one of the secrets to her success is in knowing just how to ask them.
“I would approach it just as I would want someone to approach me,” she tells theGrio. “I mean, I’ve had reporters asked me thoughtful questions about the death of my sister [Hall’s sister, Renate, was killed in 2004 in a still-unsolved murder] and then I’ve had somewhere I literally wanted to walk out of the room. Why? You’re so insensitive. I mean, you’re kidding me. It’s my sister. So I treat people the way I want to be treated. I know that sounds so novel. But, you know, I think sometimes we forget as journalists that we’re talking to a human being.”
Hall’s stumbling blocks along the way have led her to a good place. During her transition from NBC to her own show, she met and married entertainment executive Steven Greener. The two now have a one-year-old son, Moses. Hall’s personal and professional social media accounts are full of the kind of new mother moments anyone would share but after an initial announcement, she keeps her husband and marriage private.
On her show last year while interviewing Prince’s biographer Dan Piepenbring, Hall shared a flirty email she received from the late music icon before his passing in 2016, saying she had “hundreds” more. Though she hasn’t shared much about their friendship, she did say Prince was someone she talked to every day. But his most lasting impact on her life was to encourage her to take control of her own career, something he advocated in his own.
“When I was transitioning to my prior job, well before it was announced I would be leaving, he said to me, “why would you be waiting on other people when you can do it yourself?” That motivated me to get out there and pitch this talk show,” Hall shares.
He would certainly be proud. But when you are at the top of the mountain it seems there is always someone trying to knock you back down. Just this week, it was announced that Jeanine Diangelo, a former guest, is suing Hall for $16M. Diangelo is an anti-vaxxer who appeared on Hall’s show last with her son to talk about her choice not to vaccinate. Hall said she wouldn’t let her own son hug an unvaccinated child which Diangelo alleges led to their ‘embarrassment’ and emotional distress.
However that goes, Hall is well prepared to weather the storm. She’s done it before.
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