Amy Robach is sitting pretty. Not only does she rule the sofa as host of the Saturday Today show, she's also a national correspondent for the NBC Nightly News, fills in on occasion for anchor Brian Williams, and is routinely described as the next Katie Couric. A mother of two, she's bombshell beautiful, radiating ambition during our chat at a Rockefeller Center café in Manhattan. But her good looks aren't always an asset; her outfits are scrutinized, and YouTube offers a montage of sexy Robach leg footage, set to classical music. Yet the 36-year-old anchor takes it in stride. "You have to learn to navigate in this industry," she says, laughing. Here, the lowdown on Robach's high-heeled climb to the network-news heights.
Q: You started out in local TV news, covering homicides, fires, tragedies. What was the worst of it?
A: I saw police dig up a murdered mother and baby, and it was horrific. You never forget the smell, the sight. Another time, I had to knock on the door of a house where a child had drowned. There's a knot in your stomach walking up to that door, because you know the reaction's going to be, "Get off my porch." But probably one of my most memorable experiences was when I witnessed my first execution. It was a lethal injection, and I don't know what went wrong, but the man's chest lifted up, and I could hear him gasping for breath. His pastor was behind me, and he started hyperventilating. It was so stressful and tense and awful. And then you have to walk out of there and give a press conference to the rest of the media, because that's how it worked at the time.
Q: Like Diane Sawyer and Deborah Norville, you were a beauty queen.
A: Yes, I still have to live that down. I was first-runner-up for Miss University of Georgia. Later, I won a county pageant and then was runner-up for Miss Georgia. So unfortunately, because of the Internet, my pageant days live on.
Q: How do you deal when people fixate on your looks?
A: One of the hardest things about getting into this career as a woman was learning to deal with sexual harassment, on a number of levels. When I first started out, I'd be interviewing the local police, and they would literally ask me the color of my undergarments. They'd say, If you want to know this, you'll have to tell me that. So to get what I needed, I'd make up a different color that I wasn't wearing--they're really beige, but I'm going to tell you red.
Q: You scored the first on-air interview with Rod Blagojevich. How?
A: I got a phone call at 8:00 at night from our producer, who said, "Can you get on a plane? We're gonna try to get Blagojevich. Are you willing to try?" He knew I was hungry, that I'd sit there for nine hours to see if Blagojevich would talk to me. So we flew in and were so nervous, because Blagojevich had already agreed to do the first live sit-down with Good Morning America; we were trying to steal their thunder. Finally, we were told, "You can have him for 10 minutes." We ended up getting an hour-and-a-half.
Q: Why did Katie Couric get so much guff when she scored her anchor gig?
A: I think it was hard for people to see a woman in that role, no matter who she was. But it's great that she's there--she has made it easier for the next woman.
Q: And that's you, right?
A: There's only one Katie Couric!
Q: How did it feel to fill in for Brian Williams on the Nightly News?
A: I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and I'd die happy.