2015 Honoree

Tamsen Fadal

Emmy-Winner, TV Anchor, Producer, Author

“Regardless of the hot-button issues that get people so fired up, it’s actually pretty non-partisan to believe that women at least deserve the same equal access to health care as men.”

Who inspires you the most?

Unequivocally my father, Jim Fadal is my greatest inspiration. I watched him lose my mother to cancer, but go on to raise my brother and me on his own, and all the while, never giving up on love and living life to the fullest. He is, without a doubt, my hero.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty [depending on age] years ago?

What I now know is being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, that it’s okay to be by myself and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. A decade ago, I couldn’t have imagined life would look so bright living by myself. We’re conditioned to believe we have to find a partner in love to have a complete life and I now that isn’t true. After I got divorced, I finally understood a valuable lesson that my father imparted onto me. “It’s better to be alone than lonely with someone.” That’s not to say that I don’t believe in love and that I won’t fall in love again, but I know now that my happiness isn’t dependent upon someone else.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough _______.

Friends and people who have a positive influence in my life.

What City best describes your personality?

The city in which I live, New York, no doubt about it. I’m excited to wake up every day here and feel the energy of the city. New York is perfect in the way that is imperfect. It’s gritty and loud and tough, and sometimes I’m all of those things, too. But for all of it’s flaws, it’s also the center of the universe. There is power here. And passion. And the only place that’s ever felt like home to me. In other words, I have a couple of great favorite quotes about this wonderful place. First from John Updike: “The true New Yorker believes that people living anywhere else have to be in some sense kidding.” And second, from former Mayor Ed Koch: “New York is where the future comes to audition.” I came here to audition and I found myself and found my home.

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

Many days I’m affected by the news I’m covering, and on those days I just want to unplug from the world, curl up in a cozy pair of flannel pajamas, spend time with my Chihuahua, and eat comfort food – real New York pizza. But even on those dark days, I never forget how powerful those stories are and I’m grateful to be able to give them a voice and an audience to help bring about awareness and ultimately affect change.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

The wage gap has to close. To see women work as hard or harder than some men and not receive equal compensation is absurd. It happens across the board, in every profession. And a large part of that continues to be attributed to the way certain men treat women and look down upon them. Take Carly Fiorina, for example. One of the most powerful businesswomen on the planet. And all that the top Republican presidential candidate can think to do is insult her face? Women won’t get equal treatment and equal pay until we convince all of society to shut down those negative actions and attitudes. As for the media, it’s easy to paint with broad strokes. It’s easy to say the media as a whole is or is not doing something fairly. But because I work under that umbrella of the media, and I believe we do our very best to put on a product that is fair, balanced, and intelligent, the best answer I can give is that responsible media outlets do present women fairly. But there are plenty of others who continue to objectify women and treat them as lesser persons than men.

Although there is supposed to be a separation between Church & State, religion still seems to govern many political decisions regarding women abortions, birth control, etc. usually from men. What is the best approach to shift power over women¹s bodies to women?

Well, standing up and letting our voices be heard, first of all. Regardless of the hot-button issues that get people so fired up, it’s actually pretty non-partisan to believe that women at least deserve the same equal access to health care as men. The key, though, is having the right allies in power. And being pro-active, not re-active. Educating yourself on who stands where on the issues. And if you don’t like it, get the word out about it. There are great educational tools and opportunities for women to really get to know the issues. The National Women’s Law Center, for example, is a great resource. Bottom line – allies and education.

What is your best read? Favorite character you would most like to be?

I have a hard time selecting just one favorite book, I’m an avid reader with a full bookcase of well-worn books. I lean toward stories where I’ll learn something, I’m always on a quest for knowledge. I’m always reading at least two books at once, right now I’m reading ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’, by Greg McKeown with an eye toward further streamlining my life. I’m also reading ‘One Last Thing Before I Go’, by Jonathan Tropper, I’m a fan of his humor and outlook on family. Of course I must recommend ‘The New Single’ my latest book and the one I’m most proud of! As for my favorite character, I’m going to go with Elphaba from ‘Wicked’. She’s so strong, noble and unique. And actually does what’s right.

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men? Are sexist jokes problematic, and how do you feel about people¹s view that women should just ³lighten up² about them?

Women are serious contenders for President of the United States in this election and that’s long overdue. And there are heroes from younger generations that are changing the world for the better every day, like Malala Yousafazai. In fact, no one on the planet, I think, is doing more for global women’s rights than Malala. And to that end, education is the key to gender equality. The more we educate young women that they are equal to men on every level and they don’t have to accept sexism in any capacity, the more they’ll work to change the world.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

The best decision I ever made was getting into my little used car and driving from Florida to West Virginia to take the very first TV job I was offered in Oak Hill, West Virginia. I sent out at least 50 tapes and WOAY-TV was the first to respond, so I said yes to my first TV job where I was the producer, the reporter and the anchor of the evening news. It taught me how to be independent, how to be bold and how to learn that I can do anything I put my mind to.

My worst decision was not believing in myself and spending too much time trying to be someone I was not. I struggled with an eating disorder for a long time early on in my career because I thought I needed to be thin to be successful. Over time, I have learned that I am happy with who I am, that it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect and to love myself exactly as I am. To believe in myself has been both liberating and empowering.

Within the past few years, social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

I love social media. Both as a marketing tool and as a way of staying connected. And those two things are not mutually exclusive. The really great aspect of social media is engagement. People love to be in on the conversation. Sparking a great debate or a great joke on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter is really empowering and a great way to connect with others.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie.

“You’ve got this.” Those are some of my favorite words from one of my favorite people, right now. If I’m ever doubting myself or nervous about walking into a new situation, those three words seems to lift me up. Simply, “you’ve got this.” And I do.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I would be the world’s leading hero at multi-tasking. I would do ten things at once, stay totally cleaned, and de-cluttered and organized at every moment. Although I’m not sure multi-tasking is “technically” a superpower, as a woman we are often expected to be able to handle multiple things at once, thus the extra boost of “power” would come in handy.