Good morning, sunshine! On Monday, February 29, Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt officially replaced former cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the network's morning show, Fox & Friends. Before Earhardt's long-awaited dream gig kicked off, Us Weekly sat down with the up-and-coming TV personality at Fox News' headquarters in NYC to discuss her new gig and more.
"I found out around the same time every else did," the Columbia, South Carolina, native tells Us in her Southern drawl. "I was so, really just so grateful. I just felt very blessed. I was sitting in [Fox News Chief] Rogers Ailes' office when he told me I was getting the job — and he has a corner office in this building overlooking 6th Avenue, the Avenue of the Americas — and I thought, 'This is the American Dream.' I walked through that front door almost 10 years ago and wasn't even sure if I was getting the job. And now, here I am being named the morning anchor."
Earhardt replaces outgoing host Hasselbeck, who tearfully said goodbye in January. "I hated to see Elisabeth leave Fox because she's a good friend of mine, but what a great opportunity," her replacement says. "I've worked so hard for this and wanted this job for so long." Former View host Hasselbeck, however, was incredibly encouraging during the interview process.
"We talked the night before I had to go and meet with Roger, and I called her and just said, 'Is there any advice?'" Earhardt tells Us. "She said, 'I wish you all the best and I know you'll do great in this role if he does select you.'"
And Ailes did hire her. "Then we talked on the phone. … She told me what her routine was, what her computer work was like, reading the newspaper articles, prepping for the show each morning," Earhardt says.
The working mom's ascent comes at what some would see as an inopportune time — she welcomed her first child, Hayden, with her husband Will Proctor in November — but Earhardt says that's not the case at all.
"I've worked so hard to get to this position that I will do everything to make it work," she tells Us. "I have a really good supportive family unit at home. We're all gonna make this work and make it a success . . . For me, to get my dream job, that is a gift I can give my daughter. We're in this together. It'll be fun when she grows up when we have special guests on the show. She can come along!"
Earhardt inherited her hard work ethic from her parents. "My dad worked three jobs to put us through school," she tells Us. "It's just really neat now that I'm a parent to see what we do for our children. It's not just about us. It's about representing America, representing the viewers. It's representing the American Dream."
After nearly two decades of working in news, Earhardt says she couldn't believe she's finally arrived. "I worked really late, long hours. Worked on the weekends. I was the beat reporter in Richland County, which was the county I grew up in, like covering hard news stories," she recalls to Us of her first gig. Earhardt came to Fox News nearly 10 years ago, where she started on the dreaded overnight and weekend shifts. Joining the TV personality in her ascent were some of the cameramen and behind-the-scenes folks who help make the news happen daily.
"We spent Christmas Eves together in the hallway eating turkey," she tells Us. "The entire crew, all the camera guys, all the stage directors, everyone behind the scenes. We've all been in it together." (According to Nielsen, Fox & Friends received a 24 percent boost compared to 2015's average for Earhardt's big debut on Monday, February 29.)
The cohost, who's just getting started, tells viewers that she'll be on top of her game; in fact, she'll be getting an additional hour of sleep each night thanks to her new gig. "It's an hour later than what I'm used to," she says of her wake-up call. "I used to anchor at 5 or 6 in the morning. So I actually have an hour more sleep each night."
Watch Hasselbeck's departure above.
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