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Natalie Morales Modern-Day Mom


You could say that Natalie Morales has done it all, from camera operator and editor to covering major news stories including presidential elections, school shootings, and the Iraq war to exclusive interviews with the biggest names in Hollywood — all with huge success. So don’t you dare say that she is on TV because of her beauty.  “I think looks certainly play a part in our business, absolutely,” says Morales. “But you have to have the goods to back that up.”


The Today show co-anchor and mother of two beautiful boys (Josh, six, and Luke, one and-a-half) gets up every day before dawn to do live TV. During our conversation, I discovered that what really motivates Morales is a nice long run and a loud round of karaoke. “I am uninhibited; when it comes to grabbing the microphone, I sing from the top of my lungs, whether you like it or not,” she affirms. But running is her favorite activity. “It’s an escape a relief. It’s when I write my best.”


Besides the 20-25 miles she runs every week, Morales is always on the run — Friday in New York, a weekend in Vegas to host the 2010 Miss USA Pageant, back to studio 1A in Rockefeller Center, and, since March, she’s also been the “Just the Facts Ma’am” on the hit NBC show The Marriage Ref. According to Morales, being on the controversial show has allowed her to find humor in her own marriage and the occasional silly spat, like who’s going to unload the dishwasher or refill the toilet paper roll, adding “It makes you look at your own arguments and be like, ‘Honey, at least we’re not fighting about something like that.”


Morales is appreciative for all her life’s blessings — a husband who loves her, two healthy and beautiful boys, and the “best job” as she describes it. But being a mother to Luke, her youngest child, has a special meaning. It took Morales and her husband, Joe Rhodes, more than two-and-a-half years to get pregnant. “It’s stressful on the relationship when you’re trying so much and it doesn’t exactly end up being the romantic experience you would like it to be.” Natalie was not able to conceive until she had an intrauterine insemination. “It’s important to do what you feel is in your best interest if you really want to have a child,” she points out, adding, “The best advice for women who are going through the same difficulties — if you feel it is taking too long and you are in your mid-thirties or so as I was, go talk to somebody, don’t wait. Sometimes doctors say, ‘oh don’t worry just wait,’ but if it’s been about a year and you are having trouble, go and see a doctor and find out what’s wrong or what’s happening with your body.”


The 37-year-old journalist, named by People en Español one of its Fifty Most Beautiful People for 2007, says she’s not worried about aging. “I just hope I can grow into my skin gracefully.” But if Morales had a magic wand she would definitely use it. “I’d be two inches taller — I would like to be 5’7.”


But even for someone like Morales who’s pretty by nature, waking up at dawn, having such a high profile career, and going home to a full house can have an impact on her beauty. What’s her secret? “Concealer. Working morning television you get very used to having concealer under the eyes. That’s the one thing, is not a secret, but you have to find the right concealer that works for you. But also I completely believe in hydrating, drinking a lot of water, and watching what you eat as well. I’m very sensitive to things and if I feel bloated, I feel terrible. And if I feel terrible I don’t come off as high energy as I should on TV.”


Morales is unquestionably a modern-day mom. “What allows me to do what I do is that I have a great support system, but you have to be willing to ask. We have to accept our limitations and know how to prioritize.”


Being with her family is Morales’ priority. “I love cooking, so we make dinner every night for my kids.” As a mother of two boys myself, I can’t imagine that there’s never chaos in Morales’ home. “It’s a testing moment for parents for sure,” says Morales. But I agree with her that being a mom it’s the most amazing thing. “You think that you can’t love a child any more than you do, but having two and seeing the relationship they have, that love intensifies.”


Having two small children also means you’re in for surprising moments almost every day, believe me, I know! So it wasn’t hard for Natalie to share with me a funny moment with her family. She explains, “We were staying at a hotel and Josh said he wanted to use the bathroom and he was taking quite a long time, so Joe, my husband, called him and asked him, ‘Are you ok in there? Are you making a poopy?’ And Josh answered, ‘No, Daddy, I’m here playing the tambourine!’ Where does he come up with that sarcasm at the age of 5?”


Morales’ path is definitely an inspiration for all women with aspirations, especially for working mothers like myself who some days might feel overwhelmed. Her advice: “Follow your passion and dreams in life. It’s what got me where I am in life today, doing my dream job and having my family.”   TANIA LUVIANO


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