Your Journey is Your Own
With Marisa Brahney
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi! I’m Marisa Brahney. I’m a television host, proud mom and wife, and Jersey girl. I have two toddler sons, Kennedy and Ashton, and they are the little lights of my life! I am also mom to a precious daughter in heaven, our first baby Charlotte, who we lost unexpectedly due to complications at birth in 2014. My husband Tony is the BEST dad and partner—I’m blessed to have such a supportive, loving man by my side to do life with. We’re thrilled to be currently expecting another little girl.
You had a career as a TV news anchor & reporter for 15 years and recently had a career transition out of TV news. When did you know you wanted to be an anchor?
It was really all I wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I think I was about 8 or 9 when I really got into it. My parents always watched a lot of news when I was growing up, and we used to watch The TODAY show every morning and thought Katie Couric had the BEST job! I always found it so thrilling to see the anchors and reporters getting a chance to meet and talk with so many interesting people, share their stories and be a witness to history. That was always one of my favorite things about my job. It’s a privilege and responsibility to do that that I am honored to have had for so long. I recently left the news business, remaining in television but in a different capacity. I wanted to have more time with my family and more flexibility in my career path. I’m working as the national brand rep for Cuisinart on QVC and as a guest on various outlets doing segments as an On-Air Lifestyle Expert. I’ve also launched a new website and blog and I’m contributing to a mom-focused website here in New Jersey. It’s a new realm, especially for QVC, where there are a lot of variables to make the cooking demos I’m doing flow seamlessly. It has been a fun challenge making this shift and I must say, the unpredictability and adrenaline of live TV remains a constant adventure!
Were you scared to be on camera?
I’ve never been known to be camera shy! I was always like the little ”reporter” giving the play by play of what was happening in our family home videos…there are some really embarrassing ones in the archives (Mom, don’t ever let them get out!) With that said, when I first started in the business, I was barely 22, very green and had NO idea what I was doing. Being comfortable on camera, thinking quickly on your feet and being able to articulate key points with ease and authority, while still letting your personality come through naturally is something that does take time and a LOT of practice.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Absolutely. The business I’m in is extremely subjective. A mentor told me long ago that you can come to work and do your absolute best every day, knock it out of the park, and there will still be a manager or a viewer who, for whatever reason, just doesn’t like you. Something about your voice, your writing, your presentation, your style, your look, or even the way you say ONE particular word can turn someone off! And I’ve definitely had my share of that over the years. I’ve been told I’m too young, too old, look fat, use my hands too much when I talk, had my clothes picked apart, been referred to as “just another blonde”—you name it! Social media has made it far more easier for people to criticize your every move and that definitely comes with the territory of being on television as a public figure. Sometimes it’s really hard to rise above negativity, incorrect assumptions and personal attacks. I’ve grown to have a much thicker skin over the years, but certain comments still sting, especially when you are passionate about what you do and take pride in your work. But I try as best as I can to let things roll off my back and keep my eyes on my own goals, be confident in just being ME, be grateful for the journey, and lean on the people around me who love me and lift me up—and I’m lucky to say there are a lot!
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
I’ve been so fortunate to have many! Over the years so many women in my business have taken time out of their busy schedules to critique my stories, help me learn, and share tips of how they navigate work and being a wife and mother and all of the things that this industry can throw at you. I’ve had people pass along resumes for me, connect me with managers and help me settle into life in a new city. I think the biggest thing they’ve taught me is how rewarding it feels to pay it forward. I’ve done the same in return for others, and it brings me so much happiness to see someone thrive going after their dreams. As an intern, I worked at Dateline NBC and will never forget how kind, inspirational, smart, and down to earth Hoda Kotb was to all of us college kids. When she knew I was interested in being a reporter, she let me tag along on shoots, sit in on script writing, and even hooked me up with a photographer to help me shoot my demo reel. To see her success and her journey as a woman and mom all these years has been nothing short of incredible—and for me, confirmation that kindness, humility and willingness to help others does in fact pay off in a big way, both personally and professionally.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
It is a work in progress, to put it mildly! It’s my biggest life challenge at the moment because I’ve always struggled with trying to do take on too much and be all things to all people. I love being busy and involved, active, taking on challenges and spending time with family and friends whenever I can. But over the past year, since having our youngest son, I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort to SLOW DOWN and be okay with saying no. Putting our family first is most important to me. Down time and those slow kind of days at home as a family are so wonderful and so important for us all, so I try to keep at least one weekend a month totally “unbooked” for family time with just us. And despite crazy schedules that make it a big challenge—we do eat dinner together every night. No phones at the dinner table is a rule. We talk about our day and enjoy the meal, in the midst of the chaos of feeding and cleaning up after two toddlers.
What is your favorite meal?
This may just be the hardest question! I absolutely love to eat and cook just about everything and I’ve been fortunate to do quite a bit of that in my career as well as my personal life! I had a successful food segment as an anchor in New Jersey that let me taste my way through the state’s best restaurants, and now I’m constantly in the kitchen testing recipes for demos I’m doing on QVC and adding recipes to my blog. If I had to narrow it down, I would say homemade pasta, really good pizza, sushi, fresh seafood and a killer Greek salad are among my favs.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
I don’t know if overcome is the right word, but without a doubt, losing our daughter was the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through and continue to grapple with. Before we lost Charlotte, I was like many others—very naïve in thinking it was rare to lose a baby after a first trimester miscarriage, and certainly because of complications at birth. I was so wrong, it’s far more common than most realize. One in 160 babies in the U.S. is stillborn, and there are roughly 23,000 infant deaths per year. It’s not something people want to talk about, and because of that it can be very isolating. They call it the club no one wants to be a part of. I wish there weren’t so many other families who are missing their precious babies, but I’m thankful to have been connected with so many other baby loss moms through social media and support groups. They, along with my family and friends and counselors, have been my lifeline over the past 4 and a ½ years. In turn, I’ve tried to offer that same support to many others I’ve met since who share in this heartbreak. The trauma and devastation of losing our child is still with me each day. Though the harsh edges are softened with time, and I’ve been abundantly blessed in my life since our loss—grief and happiness do co-exist. There are still moments of sadness that catch me off guard, and I will miss my daughter for the rest of my life and always wonder who she would have been. I never shy away from talking about Charlotte or my experience losing her, because it’s such a part of my motherhood journey. With that said, I try to be mindful of not letting her death overshadow her brothers and the absolute joy they bring me in any way. I’m determined to live my life in a way that makes all my children, in heaven and here on earth, proud– and I lean on my faith to help me do that.
Where do you find inspiration?
Looking at life through my children’s eyes is the biggest and best inspiration I could ever imagine. Their innocence, excitement and the way they are constantly absorbing, learning, laughing and loving so hard reminds me of all that is good in the world. Every time I’m hitting a road block or rut in my day or week, taking a few minutes to just really take in and delight in the miracle of my babies re-sets my mood and shifts my perception.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are doing enough. Your journey is your own. You set normal for your family (I stole this one from a dear friend but it’s so true—what’s good and right for one family isn’t necessarily for another!) and doing what is best for you and your family is important. We are not all the same, but we do ALL need help (from each other, from God, from our families, from our co-workers, from our community). And most importantly, we’re all in this together! In a world where women can be so quick to criticize and tear each other down, we have to remember there are still so many women out there supporting each other. Let’s hold onto that. Lifting up and loving on one another is always the answer.
More About Marisa
Marisa Brahney is an Emmy award-winning television host who spent 15 years in the fast-paced, competitive world of TV news. You can currently see her as the national brand rep for Cuisinart on QVC. Marisa is a proud mom to sons Kennedy & Ashton, and daughter Charlotte, who passed away shortly after her birth in 2014. Since then, Marisa has been a passionate advocate for pregnancy and infant loss awareness initiatives that support families who’ve lost babies. She and her husband Tony are currently expecting another daughter and are thrilled to be adding another sweet babe to their family!