For Ainsley Earhardt, co-host of Fox’s hit morning program “Fox & Friends,” there’s no greater gift than waking people up each morning. “I have the honor of being one of five female co-hosts who bring Americans the news each morning,” says the veteran television personality. “I don’t take that for granted.”
As a young girl growing up in South Carolina, Earhardt dreamed of living in New York City and prayed she would one day get there. Now, she looks back on her childhood with not only a sense of fondness, but also appreciation for the traditions and cultural experiences afforded to her by her Southern upbringing. “I realize now how fortunate I am to have the best of both these worlds,” she says.
BELLA NYC had the opportunity to chat with Earhardt about work, family, and sharing childhood traditions with her daughter.
At one point you considered becoming an orthodontist. What made you switch to journalism?
I worked for an orthodontist in high school, and he hoped I might eventually take over the practice. I wanted to go to New York and become an actress, but his enthusiasm for his profession made me decide to follow his path.
I struggled with chemistry in college—Florida State University—and realized it wasn’t for me. After watching an interview with Leeza Gibbons, a journalist and a Southern girl who attended the University of South Carolina, I applied to their journalism program. When I got to USC, I focused on my career and fell in love with journalism school. It was the right fit for me and I’ve never looked back.
Tell us about your journey to “Fox & Friends.”
I worked in two different markets (Columbia, South Carolina and San Antonio, Texas) in various positions before coming to New York in 2007. I joined Fox News as the overnight anchor and I worked the weekend shifts, but almost immediately, I was filling in for shows like “Fox & Friends.” I couldn’t believe they were asking me to do this national morning show. After the first time I signed off, I remember thinking, “This has been the best day of my life.” I hosted “Fox & Friends First” for three years, and at the end of 2015 I got the promotion to take the seat previously filled by Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
What sets your show apart from other morning news programs?
I have the best co-anchors, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, and the chemistry on the show is great. We’re not afraid to be ourselves, and we give each other time to talk about the things that are important to us. We rely on each other’s strengths, and I think the audience can see that.
You have to be genuine and be yourself on TV. The audience can pick up if you’re trying to be someone you’re not. In my 10 years at the network and 20 in the business, I have learned to just relax, breathe, and be Ainsley.
What’s it like to be a journalist during this interesting time in politics?
It’s been exciting; the news writes itself. I started on “Fox & Friends” last February when we had all the candidates getting into the race. Every day we would come to work and there would be some exciting story in the news.
Now, covering the first 100 days of the presidency is so important because President Trump is trying to check off all the campaign promises he made to the American people. It’s been fun as a journalist covering it from start to finish.
What was it like to interview President Trump?
Unbelievable! President Trump is easy to talk to. Even if you didn’t vote for him or agree with his politics, he’s very engaging. He does his research, so he knew a lot about me. He’s a smart businessman and I’m impressed with that. But I’m not afraid to ask tough questions; he’s a tough guy and can take it. I have also interviewed a few people from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and I’d still love to interview her.
How do you balance family life with your intense morning schedule?
I go to work super early—I’m up at 3 a.m. and at the studio by 3:50 a.m.—and while I have a lot going on during the day, I can do most of it from home. I have a great schedule that allows me to be with my daughter, who turned one a few months ago, all day long. It’s like being a stay-at-home mom but working full time.
What are some of the fun New York things you like to do with your daughter?
Every week we go to the Diller-Quaile School of Music, which is a formal music school on the Upper East Side. Her teacher is an opera singer and we sit in a circle while she teaches nursery rhymes in a beautiful opera voice.
We also attend a Bible study fellowship weekly; while the parents are learning Scriptures, our kids are downstairs learning Christian songs and the children’s version of the lessons we’re learning.
Plus, we have an annual pass to the Central Park Zoo, and we go to children’s museums and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love being able to teach my daughter about artists like Monet and Renoir, impressionists I grew up learning about, and then being able to see their actual work.
What was the inspiration behind your New York Times Best Seller, “Take Heart, My Child: A Mother’s Dream”?
Growing up, my father was in charge of breakfast and getting the kids ready for school, and he always had a Scripture or a poem next to our cereal bowls. At the time I thought, “Can’t we just eat in peace? Why must there always be a lesson?” Looking back, I’m grateful for those notes.
I thought about what I wanted to share with my daughter and the messages my father shared with me that were most important. I want her to know that no matter what she is loved, but that I expect her to work hard, be a good person, and love other people. And that she will fall down but I will be there to pick her up and love her through it all. That’s what the book is about.
I also have a new children’s book coming out November 7th entitled, “Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me.” It’s from a parent’s perspective—it’s what my daughter has taught me.
Will you carry on the tradition of leaving notes for your daughter?
Definitely. I encourage every parent to do it, too. Show your kids you love them and go the extra mile to leave a little note. I’ve learned to never stop talking to your child, even if she’s not listening at the moment. When I was in situations where I had to make tough decisions, I had my dad’s voice in my head telling me what to do.
Looking ahead, are there goals you’ve yet to tackle?
I think I can finally breathe for the first time in my life—there’s no other job I want in my profession. This is the pinnacle for me. I have a healthy, beautiful child; my dream job; and I live in the city I love. If this is it, I am perfectly content. I could write on my tombstone, “I had an awesome time getting here, and I am so blessed and grateful.”
Some of Ainsley’s favorite passages in the book:
Before you were born
Before you came to me
I dreamed a love song
By a polka dot tree
May you never grow tired
Of stretching your branches
Dare to be different
Don’t deny second chances
And when winter comes
And leaves fall and fade
Take heart, my child,
Don’t be afraid
May you strive to be happy
Change your course if you’re not
Embrace the world’s colors
Colors others forgot
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