Nancy O'Dell on Landing Her Dream Job, Scrapbooking and Motherhood
As the host of "Access Hollywood" for 13 years before leaving the program in December 2009, Nancy O'Dell has shown she's a natural when it comes to hobnobbing with A-list celebrities.
And, starting January 2011, O'Dell will shift her red carpet duties over to "Entertainment Tonight," where she'll fill in and eventually take over anchor duties for Mary Hart, who is leaving the show after 30 years.
In addition to juggling a high-profile career, O'Dell, 44, is a wife, mother, stepmother and author. When ParentDish caught up with her recently, we decided to have a little fun with the woman who puts stars in the hot seat for a living by flipping the tables and asking her the questions inquiring minds want to know.
ParentDish: Congrats on being named host of "Entertainment Tonight."
Nancy O'Dell: Oh, my God, it is a dream come true. I will start in January as a correspondent and fill-in anchor until Mary finishes her last TV season, which I believe ends in May.
PD: What does it mean to fill Mary Hart's shoes?
NO: It is scary because she is a TV legend. I mean, "Entertainment Tonight" was the first show of its kind and it was Mary who helped get that started. She is such success, and so is the show, because of her. While it is intimidating, it is so exciting at the same time. I just hope I can do the program and Mary proud.
PD: How does a show like "ET" differ from a show like "Access Hollywood"?
NO: They both report on the same kind of news. Look, although I was at "Access" for 13 years, "Entertainment Tonight" is considered the king.
PD: Aside from a busy career, you are also a mom.
NO: I am.
PD: How is motherhood treating you?
NO: That is my most important and my most favorite job. Nothing compares to it. It is the most amazing thing. I feel like I am living my life all over again. My daughter, Ashby, is 3 ½ years old and she is now a real little human being. She is truly my best medicine. If I am having a bad day and just coming home, Ashby will run towards me and scream, "Mama, Mama" and then jump right into my arms. There is nothing better than that feeling.
PD: In addition to being a mom, you are also a stepmom.
NO: Yes, my husband (Keith Zubchevich) has two sons from a previous marriage. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Tyler is 15 years old and Carson is 10 years old. They are great brothers to Ashby. I am so lucky to have three great kids.
PD: When people hear the term stepmom, they think it's either a tough job for the woman or the woman is wicked like in those fairy tales. Is that true?
NO: I think it can be tough, but, luckily, my transition wasn't as tough as I thought it would be. You do have to overcome the child's thinking that this new woman, who is not their mother, is going to be in their lives. I met the boys when they were 5 and 8.
PD: So everything is cool?
ND: I think I overcompensate so they don't think I am treating them any differently than I do Ashby. I am always trying to show them an extreme amount of love so they know they are very important to me.
PD: How did you do it?
NO: We bonded by my making scrapbooks of their old photos and, as we were putting them together, I would have them tell me about their life before I met them. They call me Namommy, which is a combination of Nancy and Mommy. This project made them realize I value them, took an interest in their lives and really cared about what they were thinking when those pictures were taken.
PD: After leaving "Access Hollywood," you took some time off to be with your family. Have you sat down with Ashby to explain you're going back to work?
NO: She is probably going to sit down and talk to me because she is so mature. To be honest, I haven't had a lot of time off. I am working on a show with Oprah and was involved in a few other projects, so it's been busy. But I will say, I have every intention of taking my daughter to school every morning before I head to the office.
PD: You are also the author of two books, "Full of Life," a book of tips for expectant mothers, and your newest release, "Full of Love," which is written in conjunction with Creative Memories to explore the power of photo albums in raising confident, happy kids.
NO: Yes, I am a fourth generation scrapbooker and I have 100 photos albums. Family photo albums are so powerful in that they make kids feel valued, cherished and respected. When you save book reports, art projects and put them in a scrapbook, it shows a kid you care and you are taking an interest in their lives. It encourages good grades and positive reinforcement.
PD: Where did you find the time to team up with Florida Orange juice to create the Album of Hope Initiative with Creative Memories and a video contest that encourages families to tape record their mornings?
NO: It is two things we are actually doing. The first is called the Album of Hope Initiative with Creative Memories, which aims to inspire families to make the most of their mornings by spending at least 15 minutes having a glass of juice or breakfast with your family. The second is The Morning Squeeze video contest, which encourages parents to submit a video of their own morning challenges for a chance to win a family getaway to Florida.
PD: Sounds dreamy.
NO: What can be better than an all-expense family vacation where you can spend quality time bonding with the ones you love?
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.