Dining at the White House with Queen Elizabeth, teeing off with Tiger Woods, traveling in Africa with Bill Clinton--Robin Roberts has a star-studded engagement book these days. But her appearance this past Saturday, May 5, in Chapin Auditorium made abundantly clear that celebrity has not gone to her head. She still relies on the trio of faith, family, and friends for her strength and stability.
Tiffany Quash, athletic administrative intern, arranged for Roberts's visit, which was the final event in the series As Women of Color We Can: Be Healthy, Be Strong, Be One. Roberts engaged in an informal conversation with Rochelle Calhoun, executive director of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association, and also fielded questions from the enthusiastic audience.
Roberts, who was a basketball star in high school and for the Lady Lions at Southeastern Louisiana University, spoke passionately about the importance of sports in the lives of young girls. "I am the proud product of Title IX," she said. "I wouldn't be where I am without Title IX. I learned so many life skills, like how to set goals. You can apply those skills in so many other areas of your life."
With humor and candor, Roberts reflected on the difficulties of breaking into ESPN as an African American woman in 1990, when women reporters were often denied access to locker rooms for player interviews. "I'd say a Hail Mary every time I went into the locker room, and I'm not even Catholic!" she said. But, she added, she made sure she was prepared. "I was very confident. I was passionate. I had done my homework, and I knew I deserved to be there." Still, she admitted, it was stressful at times. "I knew I had a small margin of error. I could not fail."
Roberts also talked about being coanchor, with Diane Sawyer, of ABC's Good Morning America, which includes daily 3 am wakeup calls and makeup sessions with her personal "Team Beauty." "You're never off the clock. You're working all the time. So it's important to follow your passion and work in something you love."
Asked for advice to fledgling journalists, she stressed the importance of developing good writing skills and being curious. She also talked about the importance of manners. "Manners played a big role in my house when I was growing up. My mother insists it's why her kids have been so successful. When I interview someone for a job, I look at how they act. Good manners are a sign of self-respect."
After the discussion, Roberts chatted with members of the audience as she signed copies of her newly published book, From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By (Hyperion 2007).
Watch the video (abc40 News - 14.7 MB)