‘Today’ Show’s Natalie Morales On Becoming News Anchor: “I’m Thrilled To Represent Us!”

Last month, we reported on Natalie Morales being promoted to news anchor on NBC’s Today show.  Our contributing columnist will officially replace Ann Curry tomorrow for the country’s number one morning news show.  Curry, in turn, is replacing Meredith Vieira, who announced last month that she is leaving the show. We got the chance to speak to the newly promoted Morales about her new status, what her family thinks about her promotion, and how it won’t necessarily bid her more time with her kids.

You’re now the highest profile Latina in news today – congrats!  How does that feel?

Wow – I guess I haven’t really thought of it that way!  I’m just so proud.  What you see when you look at the Today show is true diversity and I’m thrilled that I can represent Latinas in such a positive way. I hope I am able to show my strengths in every way.  I’d like to do some high-profile stories on Latin and South America as well and perhaps interview the leaders in those countries.

Are you more nervous than normal? 

No, I think that we’ve had the last four weeks since Meredith made her decision public to prepare and get ready for this transition.  I’d be lying if I say I’ve been sleeping very well [Laughs].  There’s always that nervous anticipation but I think we’ve had a great chance to start already.  I’ve been filling in for the last eight years for Ann, so it seems like a natural thing to do, to get the promotion.

How did you feel when they told you about the promotion?

I was actually blown away.  I wasn’t aware that it was happening because I was in Brazil doing some stories from there.  There had been stories about Meredith contemplating leaving but I wasn’t aware that she’d made a decision yet or had informed NBC.  When I got back, my boss told me.  It was one of those really surreal, out-of-body moments.  And then there’s the bittersweet aspect of it because in order to move up, it meant Meredith was going away and I’ve loved every minute of the last five years working with her.  I’m going to miss her dearly.

What did your family say? You recently wrote about your mother, did you mother have any advice?

My parents are my biggest fans – of course, as you’d expect your parents to be.  I couldn’t say anything to them because it was a closely-guarded secret for about a week and a half before we were going to make our announcement to the press.  For a week and a half, I just told my husband and my kids.  I knew that if I told my parents, they would put it out there in every way and tell everyone.  They were thrilled.  They’re so proud of me.

You once wrote about your mother for us in your column, Modern Mami.  Did she give you any advice?

The greatest advice my mom has always given me is to just be yourself and I think that’s the only thing you can do.  When you’re in a position like this, everything that you have will be challenged and you have to use every aspect of your intelligence and personality.  I think my parents know that I’m totally capable and can handle it, but they’ve always encouraged me to not forget where I came from.

Is this promotion better for your schedule when it comes to your family?

No, not at all! [Laughs] I think this will involve more travel for me because I’d like to get out and cover the big stories.  I know that Ann may not be able to do that as much now.  I’m excited about that though because I think that’s one of my greatest strengths – when I’m out reporting in a field.  That’s what gets your blood going when you become a journalist.  It will mean more sacrifice for my family life but my kids are getting a little older now.  We’ve worked it out with technology and Skype, e-mailing and phone calls.  They understand the nature of the job.

What kind of outfits will you wear on the show?

I think that what I wear now is pretty great.  I don’t plan to change my wardrobe.  I’m pretty simple – I’m kind of a J.Crew girl.  I like to wear things that most people can go out and buy because I get a lot of people who ask me, ‘Where did you get that dress?’ and I’d like to be able to then say, ‘I bought it here’ so they can then go buy it.

Do you have any idols that you look up to?

Meredith and Ann, clearly.  I think both are great examples to women – especially women in our industry.  It’s a hard business to break into and they’ve always been encouraging and wonderful mentors.  And every working mom – every mom in general who is managing it all and trying her best.