Deborah Roberts is an award-winning ABC News Correspondent for "20/20," "Nightline," "Good Morning America" and "ABC World News Tonight with David Muir." A media veteran, Roberts is a highly respected journalist who has traveled the world in her reporting. She has also served as a substitute anchor for Good Morning America, World News Weekend, and 20/20, as well as a co-host on "The View." Roberts' long-form reports on 20/20 have consistently produced extraordinary narratives such as an intimate profile of first lady Michelle Obama, first daughter Ivanka Trump and an in-depth investigation into abuse within the Amish community. She has reported from Africa on children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS crisis and was part of the historic coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Roberts has been awarded multiple Emmy awards for her international and national coverage of world events, including her poignant reporting on an Ethiopian American woman's emotional journey back to her African village to discover her long lost mother. Roberts is author of "Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom For Modern Times," a book written with her husband, Al Roker. She makes her home in Manhattan with her husband and two children. A lifelong fashion enthusiast with a commitment to wearing, supporting and uplifting emerging designers, Deborah is steady in her style confidence while embracing talent. We’ve been fortunate that she embraces the AUDRA brand and what it stands for and we’re pleased to share our latest Conversation with Deborah Roberts.
As a journalist, integrity, objectivity, and storytelling are at the forefront of your work. Where do you derive your innate curiosity and commitment to observe and uplift people’s voices?
I have been a curious person since my childhood growing up in the Deep South. In my large family, I struggled to be noticed and heard. I was a talker from the start. Somewhere in the midst of the family chaos I discovered a gift for speaking and relating to others. I also learned from my caring and gentle mother the power of empathy which is key to connecting to other human beings. Over the years, those feelings of compassion and sincerity have helped me build trust and open doors when I’m reaching out to people from all walks of life, especially when I’m doing my work.
Passion drives purpose, and you wholeheartedly embrace your work. How did you come to identify the importance and values of passion-based work?
I discovered early on in life, perhaps in high school, that passion was a kind of super power. When I was excited and dedicated to something, whether in cheerleading or a civic organization or the church choir, I excelled and people seemed to respond positively. Later when I found the world of journalism and felt passion about discovering and imparting information, I truly felt a sense of joy and meaning. I can’t live my life honestly and with any sense of purpose without passion. Work never feels like work for me when I am driven to tell a story I’m reporting on. And my heart sings feels when I throw myself into a fun activity with my family. Passion is the fuel of life.
How are you honoring the crucial moments for yourself to rest and regenerate in this current climate of life?
Sadly, I haven't done as much self care as I could over the last few months. During the pandemic and this time of a racial reckoning, there have been so very many stories to tell. Stories of suffering and inequality and discovery. I’ve never felt more useful and responsible as a journalist and a woman of color. As we figured out ways to work and broadcast from home, my drive and passion to help report these critical stories took over. And of course, the lines are blurred at home as I often record my audio in my bedroom just after dinner or conduct a zoom interview on a Saturday afternoon in the living room. Fortunately, however, I am a dedicated fitness buff. So I make time to go for a morning run or to squeeze in a strength training zoom workout 4-5 days a week. But I could use a bit more quiet time to meditate or just take a hot bath. Soon, I promise myself.
You're about to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary (congratulations), and you’re a proud mother, sister, friend, active community member, philanthropist, author, and award-winning journalist. Each of these parts of your life is rooted in relationships. How do your relationships shape and guide your day-to-day from work to your personal life?
We will celebrate our 25th next month and it’s an exciting time for us, even though we are spread thin and exhausted at this moment with little time for those romantic dinners we love so much. But my husband and I treasure our relationship and the others in life that we hold dear. One thing that this challenging time has reinforced for me is the value of treasured relationships. My husband. My children. My closest girlfriends. Connections with these key people in my life are my sustenance and the only thing that keeps me sane and centered.
Relationships and intentionality are pillars of the AUDRA brand, and you value both of these, particularly how you choose to make statements in the way that you dress and who you are supporting. How do you emphasize your style through your commitment and engagement with designers and fashion brands?
I have always loved fashion. My mom and my sisters and I sewed our own clothes growing up and I remember marveling at the looks on the McCall’s patterns. And later, in high school, when I was able to buy my clothes at Casual Corner with my own money earned at McDonald’s, I realized the power that my outfits had to shape my mood and to project an attitude about who I was or wanted to be. As I got older I thought of fashion as a way of conveying my serious and professional side. But as I became more comfortable with myself I learned to have fun and use my sense of fashion as a way to project elegance, mischief, sexiness and professionalism. I am not afraid to go high or low with designers. And I absolutely love wearing something eye catching from an emerging designer, like Audra. When I recently snapped a casual picture for Instagram in one of her fun summer dresses, totally on a whim, my comments lit up with questions about the details of the dress. I was delighted about the compliments but happy for the recognition for Audra.
What we wear has the power to tell an unspoken story to the world. You’ve been a longtime devotee to fashion and embrace your storytelling through what you wear. What are the tenets of your personal style expression to the world?
I like feeling pretty, strong, confident and comfortable. But I also like feeling a bit daring at times. I can say any of the above with my outfit. A fedora with a pair of shorts can signal a playful side. I’m not always making a statement, consciously. But I do dress for the mood that I’m in. Sometimes it’s chic and sometimes, just cozy or comfortable. But often, it’s both.
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