By Patricia Sheridan
Tribune News Service
Her television career started as a contestant on “Survivor: Australian Outback,” but Elisabeth Hasselbeck has demonstrated she is no flash in the pan. The 37-year-old was a co-host for 10 years on ABC’s “The View.” Recently, she celebrated her first anniversary on the couch at Fox News’ morning show “Fox & Friends.” An athlete in college, she married her college sweetheart, former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. They have three children.
Q: Do you miss the debates on “The View”?
A: We have such lively, thorough and extensive opportunity for debates on “Fox & Friends” that until you just asked me that question, it didn’t even pop into my mind. I feel quite fulfilled at Fox and without a doubt the participants in the debates are so qualified in their areas of expertise, so the extraction of information is more than fulfilling.
Q: It had to feel like an episode of “Survivor” sometimes on “The View” vs. “Fox & Friends.”
A: Every day has its challenges and rewards. I think the more of a wise risk you are willing to take – by that I mean, from past experience in the workplace, expressing opinion based on a combination of gut instinct, research and a nudge you may feel to just get your thoughts out – that there are opportunities. I feel blessed with having had really great employment and searching really hard for work that is as fulfilling and challenging.
Q: Did your parents nurture your competitive nature, or was it something you developed on your own?
A: I hear “competitive” a lot, and it can be a word that is given a negative connotation or positive, depending on who you are speaking about or what the subject matter might be. I think competition is a good thing. It’s a good thing in education, and it’s a good thing in business because ultimately the best arises from it. Good competition you will see on a football field.
Ultimately, iron will sharpen iron. My parents taught us how to work hard. We have all worked. I couldn’t wait to mow a lawn or turn 16 to get official working documents. I thought that was something to be proud of, and I still do. Being able to contribute to a great cause is an added bonus.
Q: You were a fine arts major at Boston College. Do you use that at home, or do you see yourself going back to art at some point?
A: It’s funny. I started as double major in biology and studio art under the pre-med department. I loved biology. I actually thought I was going to take that all the way. I wanted to do reconstructive plastic surgery.
You know, my path changed. I still love science. I mean, I get blood work from all of our doctor’s appointments, and I will really evaluate it based on percentages. I love the formation of proteins. I’m a bio-nerd. I am proud of that. I like healing, and I want to make things better. I’m a fixer, and by nature that could have been a profession I would have found great joy in, but it just didn’t go that way.
I loved design as well. My father is an architect. I think I inherited his hand and his eye. He had me by his side when I was little, and I would draw on the walls of his office. What I think is most relevant now whether you are graduating college, coming out of a summer of joblessness as a high school student who wanted a job and there wasn’t one available, or you are 57 and have a kid in college and one in high school and your boss just laid you off, there is a call for a resiliency in terms of a career.
Q: Is being on camera addictive for you?
A: No, that is the most challenging part of my day. Oddly enough, what gets me through is I think of my sister-in-law and I think of my very best friend when I look into the camera. In order to make myself more comfortable, I convince myself I am only telling them (laughs). What’s not hard for me is just being with great people.
But it is uncomfortable for me being on television. I actually get uncomfortable when my kids come home and say, “so and so said you are on TV.” or “I saw you on TV.” It is still a moment that will make me want to go for a second round of deodorant (laughs). I’m an artist at heart. I’m most comfortable probably designing a set, but I like information and I like communicating – That is what gets me through.
Q: How much prep do you do for the show?
A: We have as many stories as you can imagine that break overnight. Our job at “Fox & Friends” is to wake everybody up and tell them what’s going on.
Q: What was the adjustment like for you and your family once you became famous?
A: It is certainly not how I define myself. It is actually my least favorite word because I don’t think it expresses purpose. It doesn’t tell you anything about the person. I think they have adjusted with every step of my life. The second half of this game so far has been a little odd for them at times (laughs). Probably stressful when critique falls into the equation.
Ultimately, I have an audience of one. At night when I put my head down and say my prayers, the judgment is only there. I have to remind myself of it. I am never going to please (every)body. My parents have told me that from day one. I am only human. I am going to let people down, and that is the hardest for me to know. My goal is to not let anybody down, to do the best I can and work as hard as I can, and be as loving and forgiving as I can.
At the end of the day it’s “I hope I didn’t let you down, God. I just want to honor you.” I can’t let the judgment of millions define who I am. I am already defined, thankfully.