"Don't forget the graphic."
"Smile, so you don't have RBF."
"Get to the point, so you get to the fourth question."
"Sit up straight so your boobs aren't on the table."
"What's my first line again?"
"Be clear, concise."
"Not too much about New York or Black folk. This isn't a New York or Black audience."
"MRS degree. MRS degree. Don't forget MRS degree."
"We don't depend on men for survival."
"60s housewife. You have to say 60s housewife. If MRS doesn't stand out, this will."
"Remember to breathe."
"Oh sh--. We're live!"
"She's talking to me."
"SAY SOMETHING, D!!!!"
The build up for doing live TV is more scary than actually doing it.
I did a pre-interview with the Good Morning America producer yesterday. He asked me a million questions. The call lasted 30 minutes. All that chat has been boiled down to a segment that lasts 1:45. I'm in and I'm out. Fast and not so easy. As soon as I get warm, the segment is over. Warm is not enough. Hot. I gotta be hot.
In the green room, the producer rehearses the segment with me four times. I keep forgetting to mention the graphic. I'm talking too much. We're at 2.5 minutes. We need 1:48. Again. 2.20. Again. 1:48. Again. 2:00. It's fine. The fourth question is the advice. The good part where I tell women to shorten their lists. 3-5 must haves, everything else is about communication and whether you're compatible. Be "aggressive", ie, do something when you see a fine man. Say "hello", smile, ask a question or pay a compliment. And stop listening to all these doomsday statistics. You are one woman looking for one man. This is entirely feasible. I need to get this part in.
The producer's not gonna force the time. I just need to remember the graphic. "If you forget, it's not the end of the world, but my boss wanted the graph, so try hard," he says. What he means is: whatever you do, do NOT forget the graph.
I walk on set and there are three sets in one big room: a news desk, a half moon table, and a living room. There are 50 people: producers, sound men, cameramen, a director, other talent, the host. Fans. Kids. There's a gigantic window where people walking thru Times Square can watch from outside. It's a crowd. 50? 100? I don't judge crowd size well. And big a-- cameras. That are moving. I'm in the way. I move. Now I'm in the way of another camera. I move again. The graphics on the wall keep changing.
A lady who was in the green room with me enters the set. She came down after me, but she's going on before. She walks over to her set and takes a seat. She's a natural. She's done this a million times. I want to do this a million times too.
I'm up. I'm not seated on the side a junior producer said I would be on. Hold up. Which way do I point to indicate the graph? I look out into the 50 or so people milling around. I don't see my producer. I get distracted by Robin's shoes. Are those Sophia Webster?
The intro video is playing. All my directions are playing in my head. The video is wrapping up. It's almost time. I replay instructions in my head. "She's talking to me."
"SAY SOMETHING, D!!!!"
I talked. I almost forgot the graphic, but then the the wall screen moved rapidly and I caught it in my peripheral vision. I think, hey, look at that! That's cool, but I mention the graphic out loud and give commentary. I honestly don't know what I said, but the hosts are laughing and applauding. I smile because I've done something good. And, you know, no RBF. We're going to commercial. I missed the fourth question. Sh--.
I'm being guided off set by the producer. He says I did great. I'm disappointed. I say, "but I missed the fourth question." That's not hot.
Producer: "But you remembered the graphic!" He's happy. I hope his boss is too.
I check my Instagram. No one watching knew there was a fourth question. (Almost) Everyone's happy. I know from experience that social media will not hesitate to rip me a new one if I weren't better than good.
I get a text from my father, by far my hardest critic, and the only opinion I really care about. Weird that nothing came thru from him before now. He usually likes to text me while I'm on air live with instructions. Smile. Pause before you answer. Don't cut off the question. Don't nod out of nervousness because it might be something you don't agree with. Don't fidget. It doesn't matter that I can't see any of this until after the cameras stop.
His text reads: "outstanding." Period.
My PR sends me the link. I refuse to watch it. I hate looking at myself on TV.