Nancy Chats with Working Mother!

Celebrity Mom Q&A: Nancy O’Dell

The engaging host of TV's Entertainment Tonight talks to us about work and family—and two must-have pieces of apparel.
By Lela Narg

What’s a typical workday like for you?  

I get up sometimes as early as 4 a.m. I like to get emails and exercise out of the way in the morning. Every weekday at 5:30 a.m., I join an E.T. conference call to learn all the day’s entertainment news. I'm in the office fairly early, then it becomes a mad dash to get the show done before it feeds out on the satellite. That time is pretty insane between formulating ideas, content writing, voiceovers, radio, getting camera-ready and on-set interviews. After the show is done, there are other meetings. When I get home from work, I just want to spend time with the kids [daughter Ashby, age 7; and stepsons Tyler, 18, and Carson, 15] and my husband [actor Keith Zubulevich].  

You developed a set of apps about a cub reporter named Little Ashby. Do they relate to your own experiences?

I created "Little Ashby: Star Reporter" because I want kids to have that same opportunity to travel the world as I have for my job. And I saw how much my daughter was learning via educational apps [these are named for her]. There are so many great educational apps out now, so I don’t mind her spending a bit of time with them after her homework is done. Plus, I want her to learn about technology at a young age so she's not intimidated by it.

You interview celebrities for a living, and you're one in your own right.

Well, thank you, that is very flattering! I never really consider myself a celebrity. In fact, my husband laughs at me when I ask him if I have something funny on my face because I want to know why people are looking. He says, “You always forget you are on a national show, don’t ya?”

How do you stay connected as a family?

My husband and I make a point to text throughout the day, even if it's a simple “I love you.” And we work out together. We try to have a family game night at least once a week—we love the board game Awkward Family Photos. We also spend a lot of time outdoors, whether playing a game of tag or riding bikes together. And my daughter and I read pretty much every night. We have these short story books called You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You. The parent reads a line, then your child reads a line, and the stories all rhyme.

Has journalism changed for women—especially mothers—since you started?

Definitely. They are many more opportunities for women, both on camera and behind the scenes. In fact, I remember when I first started out, a local news director told me not to go into journalism as reporter jobs [for women] were few and far between. Glad I didn’t listen to him! The toughest thing about being a journalist as a mom is that you have to go to where the story is, when it is. So my schedule is very sporadic. One thing I won’t do is miss one of my children’s events. One huge thing I remember about growing up is that my parents never missed anything I did, whether it was a basketball game or a recital. That meant so much to me, so even if I have to say no to a work assignment, I am gonna be there for my kids. I won’t waiver on that.

Nancy’s Busy Mom Style Tips

Own a great pair of leggings. They are so comfy, yet so stylish. Great for travel or a kids’ event at school.

Treat your hair. I often wet my hair, put deep conditioner in it, comb through it, and pull it back in a bun. It looks sleek and stylish, but I am getting a deep conditioning at the same time. I have found a fabulous conditioner in RUSK Deepshine Color Hydrate Conditioner—I'm proud to be their spokesperson!

Own a great pair of big sunglasses. These are awesome for busy moms. They look chic and save you time—you don’t have to put on…eye makeup. Invest in a designer brand or stock up on several inexpensive pairs at Target. I keep sunglasses in my car, at work and at home.