This story is part of, our podcast featuring interviews with actors, artists, celebrities and creative types about their work, career and current obsessions.
When award-winning broadcast journalist Tamron Hall and the crew of her nationally syndicated daytime talk show returned to the studio after working from home because of the pandemic, Hall knew she wanted to take a different approach. The times, she felt, called for a shift from an entertainment-centered show to more of a news — and news you can use — focus.
“When we returned to the studio after two years of being at home, I saw the show as a bellwether, much like sports right after the Boston bombing or right after 911,” Hall said in an interview for CNET’s I’m So Obsessed podcast series. “Because if you turn on your television and you see [the Tamron Hall show] and you see people smiling and laughing and talking about what we survived, what we’re still going through — and you see that common thread, it’s of value.”
That shift isn’t all that surprising given that Hall had a decade-long career in cable TV news, joining MSNBC and NBC in 2007 and then becoming the first Black woman to co-anchor the Today show, from 2014 to 2017. Her news focus led ABC News last year to announce it was overseeing the show — it had been syndicated by Disney-ABC since its launch in fall 2019. In November, ABC News President Kim Godwin announced that the show would be renewed for a fourth and fifth season through 2024 and described Hall as a “breath of fresh air in daytime.”
The shift has also led the Tamron Hall Show, currently in season 3, to be nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Informative Talk Show and Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host. The awards will be announced June 24.
As she gets ready to host her 500th episode, on May 12 — with guests Arsenio Hall and Kim Fields — Hall talked about some of the candid conversations she’s had. They include hearing from the commanding officer of the floating hospital ship sent to New York in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to talking to Oscar-winning actor Halle Berry about how she needs to keep fighting for roles as a Black woman in Hollywood.
“To hear her say, ‘I’m Halle Berry, but I still walk in and there are some people who still see a Black woman,’ not as a compliment, not as an additional wonderful thing about her and what she can bring to the table. But instead [it’s] something that makes them not want to invest in her project,” Hall said. “That was very, very shocking and very vulnerable of her to do.”
Hall said she doesn’t have an agenda in terms of the topics of those conversations. Instead, she says she’s just curious, which is why she talks to a variety of people — newsmakers, entertainers, everyday people — about the things that matter to them.
“One of the things that I love in people, and I aspire to have every day in my life, is curiosity,” she said. “I don’t approach our show with, ‘This is what we should be talking about because I am now putting my agenda on you.’ There are so many things I don’t know about every day, that turn into powerful and productive conversations.”
We also talked about her current obsession: her 3-year-old son. “I’m obsessed with my son in that true maternal way,” she said with a laugh. “He’s a fascinating thing. I sometimes think I underappreciated that part of the journey. I knew I’d love him and it would be unconditional love. But to watch the human mind develop and grow and wonder what he will develop and grow into is fascinating.”
You can listen to my entire conversation with Hall in the podcast player above. And subscribe to I’m So Obsessed on your favorite podcast app. In each episode, Patrick Holland or I catch up with an artist, actor or creator to learn about work, career and current obsessions.