I don't think of myself as being famous -- recognizable because of I'm on television so much and my sports background and now Good Morning America.
We're grumpy sometimes in the morning.
My mother swears that I told her at a very young age 'I'm going to be famous.'
In all honesty I wanted to be a professional athlete. I knew that I always wanted to do something on a grand stage. I didn't know exactly what it was. At first I thought it was going to be athletics but then there's something about talent you gotta have.
I knew I wanted to be in broadcasting and I knew I wanted to be in sports broadcasting which is going to be very limited as a woman of color. I knew there weren't going to be that many opportunities.
I wanted practical experience so I went to the local radio station. You haven't lived till you scratch a little Merle Haggard on a Saturday night.
I was more worried about the first job than anything else. I really truly believed everything could fall into place from there so I went to a small station in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, making $5.50 an hour , then went to a bigger station in Mississippi, which is my home state, and then Nashville, Tennessee, then Atlanta, Georgia, and then ESPN.
I was always asked to do news everywhere I went. I'm like 'Oh you think because I'm a girl I can't do it.' So it became this badge of honor that I was advanced at ESPN. Plus sports was just like breathing to me.
I talked to Billy Jean King about leaving ESPN and I thought for sure that she'd say 'Oh, you're crazy, you gotta stay,' and she's like 'What are you, an idiot? Go.'
You have to see the big picture. I'm a big dreamer, but you have to focus small. That is what I learned through sports.
Fun. Hmmmmm. I knew there was something I was missing.
I'm a Pilates fiend.
I didn't have anyone who looked like me, who was in the field that I dreamed of being in.
My father was a pioneer. He was a Tuskegee airman. That's a pioneer. My mother being the first in her family to go to college and then to go on to be -- she was the first woman to serve on the Federal Reserve Board and she was the chair of the Mississippi State Board of Education. So I came from a long line of firsts. So when I said I wanted to be a sportscaster, no one blinked an eye.
ESPN tried to hire me earlier before, like in '87, and I turned them down because I didn't feel I was ready and then I went to a major market in Atlanta and then they asked me again and I happily took the position and that was a first time I was like, hmmm, first black woman hired at ESPN. If I don't do well, they're not going to hire another black woman for a long time and that was the first time I felt a little bit like okay, it's not just about me, I have to do a good job for myself and my family but for others who would want to work here one day -- if I don't they would use me as an example so we tried but it didn't work.
There was a lot of press about being the first African American woman and that was pressure. That was the first time I ever felt pressure in my job.
Fortunately we do have a wardrobe consultant. In the morning I bring one thing in and Diane is very good because she has her dressing room full of clothes and so she'll dress around what I bring in.