As seen on TV

Tamron Hall: I’m not channeling anyone

 
D Dipasupil / Getty Images for GLAAD

Tamron Hall made history early this year when she became the first black woman to coanchor Today’s news hours, joining Natalie Morales, Willie Geist and Al Roker on the morning show’s plush orange sofas.

In an instant, the journalist — who is serious and to-the-point on MSNBC’s NewsNation, and a compassionate listener on Investigation Discovery’s Deadline Crime With Tamron Hall — added fun-loving and chatty to her on-air-personality arsenal. Each of those identities, she says, is uniquely Tamron.

“I’m not channeling anyone. Why would I?” Hall, 43, asked one recent Monday morning before taking the chair of Today’s Take, the 9 a.m. hour of Today. She had just finished applying her makeup and affixing eyelashes. The flat iron she used to curl her pixie was still warm.

“I wasn’t raised to be, or channel, people. … I’m trying to have a unique experience with my viewers and my colleagues here.”

Clearly, Hall doesn’t allow her image to be defined. As a headliner of three successful news shows, Hall must appeal to a broad audience.

Yet, if Hall reminds TV viewers of Mary Jane Paul, Gabrielle Union’s character on BET’s Being Mary Jane, there’s good reason. Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil spent a few days shadowing Hall when she was creating the character. Like Paul, Hall is curt but polite and firmly noncommittal about any questions her fans or 115,000 Twitter followers might have about what really makes her tick.

For example, the self-proclaimed fashion-lover says she doesn’t have a favorite designer.

“I like what I like,” says Hall, wearing a peach sheath with flowing built-in cloak by industry-insider-fave Adeam.

Yes, she has a boyfriend, she says, and then throws out a pearl from The Rules: “I’m single until I’m married.” She offers no room to ask any questions about her rumored relationship with MSNBC colleague Lawrence O’Donnell.

The website Gawker praised Hall for bringing the “human party” to Today. With a little more than five million viewers, the NBC show is second to ABC’s Good Morning America in overall ratings. But according to Nielsen Media Research, Today is No. 1 among 18-to-49-year-olds, the young parents and professionals who are the target audience for Today’s Take.

It’s a little after noon now, and Hall is wrapping up for the day, which started at 4 a.m. — well, at least at 30 Rock.

She’s off to edit film for Deadline Crime, a project near and dear to her since her sister’s 2004 murder in Texas. Police suspect it was a domestic-abuse case, but it was never solved. Will she ever tell her sister’s story on the crime-magazine show? Possibly, when the time is right.

Before she slips into her flats and grabs her green “everything” bag, Hall says:

“I take it seriously that it’s a privilege and honor to be a role model to young girls, both black and white. It’s not something I take lightly.”

Elizabeth Wellington

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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