Nancy O'Dell Interview
NANCY O’DELL INTERVIEW
By Mandi Pimental
Nancy O’Dell is one of those women who you simply love to adore. Her sweet, southern, girl-next-door charm radiates through every aspect of her life. The Emmy Award-winning entertainment journalist, and star of Entertainment Tonight, talks to Runway about her fashion favorites from the red-carpet to running errands, her current projects, and the simple joys of being a mom. O’Dell leaves us all inspired with her positive spin on living in the moment while chasing your dreams.
Thank you Nancy, for taking the time to speak with me today. Runway is honored to have you as our Fall 2014 feature.
I am so honored to be on the Runway cover! Thank you!
We must start with your style! You always look gorgeous, from the set to the red carpet; your style is effortlessly glamorous. Is there anything specific you look for when choosing your pieces, or is there a favorite designer that you love to wear?
Thank you again…very much. When I choose clothes, I tend to like fitted, structured clothing and that’s in both my personal life and my work life on-camera. A more tailored look with clean lines makes the clothes look neater and more fashionable. And I feel that way whether I am wearing something casual or dressy. For the show, I wear a very classic look. In my personal life, I like clothing that has a little edge. For example, I wear a lot of Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone in my personal life. I'm also always looking for clothing that is comfortable, so a must-have for all year round is a good pair of black leggings. Leggings can go with most any top and they are so comfy. I also think a little casual dress is a staple, as it is so easy to slip on. You can even wear it with flip-flops and still look fashionable. Parker makes great little dresses. Other designers I love are Maje, Milly, ALC, BCBG, Rag & Bone and I splurge on Alexander McQueen!
You get to see thousands of gowns come down the red carpet each year. Which designer do you believe hits it out of the park, time and time again, when it comes to making a woman look and feel her best?
Zac Posen always designs amazing red carpet dresses, as he embraces a woman’s body and her curves. Zac custom-made a gorgeous red gown for me for the Met Gala and I felt like such a princess in it. Another favorite designer of mine is Carmen Marc Valvo. His gowns have that tailored look, which I love, and they are usually classic, yet have a little different something to them. Elie Saab is another favorite. I’ll never forget that gorgeous gown he did for Halle Berry when she won the Oscar. Also, I think Jason Wu, who hit it out of the park when he designed First Lady Michelle Obama’s one-shouldered white chiffon inaugural ball gown, just keeps the home runs coming on the red carpet!
Which interview have you been most inspired by, and would you share what it was that inspired you?
That’s an easy question to answer- Oprah! I have always admired her as a journalist as well as her positivity and strength. But what impressed me most about Oprah was what happened when the cameras stopped rolling. She is who you think she is. She never waivers from being that same lovely, positive person that people see on TV.
In addition to being one of America’s most beloved journalists, you are also a top-selling author. “Full of Life” debuted in the top three of motherhood books, while your children’s app series “Little Ashby” is doing extremely well. Are there any other literary plans on the horizon that the readers can look forward too?
Little Ashby: Star Reporter is a literary project very near and dear to my heart. I was so excited when it debuted as one of the top Apps on ITunes. As a result, we turned the App into a book and I certainly plan to do more Little Ashby books in the future. I always say I decided on my career as a reporter because it is ever changing (the people, the subject, the places), and therefore, I am always learning something on every interview. I love to learn and so do kids, especially if it is fun. Kids can't just travel around the globe in reality, but they can via an App or book! And that is the reason why I created the little reporter character, Little Ashby, and her FUNtastic crew. Little Ashby allows little ones to be able to go on adventures, exploring all the places in the world while learning so much in the process. As far as telling stories, one thing many people don’t know is that I love to produce shows as well. It gives me even more freedom in the way a story is crafted. I have a new show in the works, which I am producing for the ReelzChannel. And I’ve produced for HGTV, as I am obsessed with furniture and all things home. I think I love interior design so much, as it truly is another way of telling a story. Furniture and homes have meaning, history, and thus stories of their own.
Speaking of your app’s namesake, your daughter Ashby is just darling! Does she understand yet what you do for a living? Does she dream of being a reporter too?
I think she is just now starting to understand what I do for a living. Not too long ago, she asked me, “Mama, why do people stop and ask to take pictures with you?” She then proceeded to say, “I don’t understand. You’re just Mama.” I couldn't have loved more that she said that. She also had a little friend of hers run up to me the other day and say, "I saw you last night on TV.” To which Ashby replied, “Oh yea? Well, she’s my Mama!” She’s not quite ready to share me with the world and this mama takes quite a bit of pride in that bond. As far as her future as a possible reporter, she certainly has the story-telling skills. She makes up stories all the time and writes them in her journal. But right now, she dreams of being a veterinarian. She LOVES animals and loves every single one of them. If we see a dog or a cat, she wants to stop and speak to it and asks me a ton of questions about it. It is more than just a child typically loving animals. She told me the other day that she wanted to start a home for all the homeless animals in the world. So sweet!
You recently appeared on ABC Family’s new series, Mystery Girls, alongside Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth. What was that experience like, and how does playing yourself in a fictional setting differ from real life?
I had a great time on the set of Mystery Girls. I have known Tori for quite a while, so it was nice to be a part of her show. It was quite the stretch playing myself… ha ha. At least I didn’t have to study my character to do the part! The biggest difference is obviously, that it was scripted. In real life, one of the best things about being a journalist is you never know how the interview is going to go and you change your questions and the phrasing of them based on how it is going and on what the celebrity is saying.
As a journalist, author, producer, spokesperson, wife and mother, you have a lot on your plate. How do you find balance in it all? In addition, do you have any advice for mom’s who are also juggling kids and a busy career?
To be honest with you, I don’t know if life ever feels totally balanced. I’d probably describe it as a juggling act instead of balancing! (smile) However, one thing I have learned to do which I think helps me to feel more balanced is to live “in the moment.” My husband told me to always try to think about that and to do that. Because if I am with my daughter and I am stressing about something at work, then the stress is taking over that precious moment. I really try to enjoy the moment I am in and actually turn my brain off to whatever is adding the stress. I do want my daughter to see a strong woman as an example growing up. I want her to know that she, too, can go after her dreams and pursue a career that makes her happy. For that reason—being an example for her—I think that is a benefit of being a working mom. However, I make it a point to be at every one of her events… every soccer game, every recital, and every school performance. I remember my parents being there for everything I did and I want to be there for everything my daughter does. It’s one of the reasons I usually get up super early. Sometimes I get up as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m. and do paper or computer work in the mornings while the kids are sleeping. That way, I don’t feel as if it is time spent away from them. I also workout super early, as getting in exercise is a key to keeping things balanced. And here's some advice for busy moms: It is so easy to get exercise while spending amazing quality time with your kids. My daughter loves to play tag and my stepsons love to play dodge ball. So many days when I come home, we play tag or dodge ball with the whole family. We have a blast and I burn crazy calories in the process!
Philanthropy seems to be a big part of who you are. You support quite a few charities including Best Buddies and March of Dimes, as well as founding Betty’s Battle, in honor of your mother, that raises money and awareness for ALS. Can you tell us a little more about that organization?
Betty’s Battle is named after one of the most beautiful people who ever lived, my mother, Betty. It was formed in conjunction with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. MDA provided me and my family the wisdom we needed to handle ALS after Mom was diagnosed. They provided expert medical care, told us about the latest ALS research and clinical trials, and kept us informed about what might happen next and what equipment we would need. From the beginning, MDA told us they would be there for us every step of the way – and they were. My hope is that MDA’s Betty’s Battle will be able to fund the research necessary to find a cure, so other families don’t have to go through this like my family did. I want to humanize ALS, so people understand what it does both to those who have it, and to their families. ALS took one of the sweetest people who ever walked this earth. I want to do whatever I can to stop it from taking somebody else’s loved one.
Before we wrap, let’s get back to fashion. As a wife and mom, what is your typical casual, weekend-wear?
Sweat suits and workout gear! And the good thing is, nowadays you don’t have to look frumpy in them. There are so many fashionable choices out today when it comes to casual clothes. For example, I found the most stylish, beautiful lounge pant and jacket by Anna Kouture. And then there is Lulu Lemon for workout attire. They have so many cute choices. I will put on my Lulu Lemon workout pants and jacket when I wake up in the morning, go run my errands while feeling put together in them and be all ready for a workout or to play with my kids outside when I get home.
Any favorite Fall fashion trends you are looking forward to this season?
Mini-Dresses, 60’s style, are a big Fall trend. And I love mini-dresses as they make me feel so flirty and fun. Wear them with tights and you have a totally mod look. You are also going to see a lot of sportswear this fall. No, not workout attire but pieces like cute shorts. You can even make the look work for the office by pairing silk shorts with a blouse or blazer. I also love all the skirts we are seeing which are ankle-length but sheer from the thigh down. It appears as if you are covered up, but you aren’t really. Again, it’s classy yet sexy at the same time. Pastel colors are big this fall as well.
As a spokesperson for Rusk, a trendy hair care and style line, can you tell us about your favorite products? And how do you keep your hair looking so healthy?
I have been obsessed with RUSK products ever since I first started in entertainment. So the relationship with RUSK for me to be their spokesperson came naturally. They create products which are both amazing for styling and for the health of your hair. I’m loving RUSK Deepshine Lustre Advanced Marine Therapy right now. My hair gets so damaged and dried out from all the styling I do on a daily basis, but when I put this product in, it is like magic. My hair comes out feeling super healthy, moist and shiny. It’s a miracle product! Speaking of miracles, I also love the RUSK Multi 12-in-1 Miracle Leave-In Treatment. It addresses all of my hair needs like adding shine, smoothing, controlling frizz, and it seals my hair color. Plus, it’s lightweight and doesn’t weigh my hair down!
What are three beauty items you can’t travel without? As well as three “mom-essentials”?
- Beauty items for travel:
Leggings for style and comfort- You gotta be comfortable on a plane!
Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Compact Powder-It is inexpensive, yet gives you a beautiful finish. It’s in this great little compact with a mirror built into a separate compartment, which is helpful on a plane.
RUSK W8less hair spray - I never go without this in my purse. Sometimes I have to go straight to an interview right off the plane. W8less gives me hold, but doesn’t make my hair crunchy and unbrushable. That’s important when you have to go all day!
Kleenex- Gotta have that for those little noses!
Hand-Sanitizer - Think of all the things you touch in an airport. I love Cleanwell, which kills 99.9% of germs yet contains no harsh chemicals.
iPad - You have to have some entertainment for the longer flights. There are so many fantastic educational apps that are so much fun for kids when they are learning!
Lastly, any encouraging words for those looking to follow in your footsteps?
I would love to share encouraging words for those wanting to pursue a career similar to mine. In this business, and in pretty much every business, you are going to have so many people tell you that you cannot achieve what you are setting out to do. Don’t listen to that. I tell everyone to go after the career they want to achieve and that if they are willing to put in the hard work, chances are they will be very successful. Recently, my alma mater, Clemson University, honored me with an Honorary Doctorate, and I gave the commencement speech to the graduates. I told them “don’t ever let anybody ever tell you ‘no.’” I remember when I first started working as a reporter for a local station, a news director at another station told me, “You don’t want to be a journalist or news reporter. They are all a dime a dozen, you’ll never make it.” I am glad I never listened to him, because if I had, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I love what I do. Always pursue what you want to pursue and don’t be afraid of failure.
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