Hoda Kotb Tells the Career Rejection Story That Was ‘Like a Knife in Her Heart’

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Kayla Blanton
·3 min read
Hoda Kotb Tells the Career Rejection Story That Was ‘Like a Knife in Her Heart’
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  • A college professor once told Hoda Kotb she wasn’t cut out for broadcast journalism.

  • “I remember it so vividly because it was like a knife in my heart,” she said.

  • Although she got career rejections starting out, the Today star was given a few chances to succeed and that’s all she needed.

Over the last few years, Today’s morning show has grown incomplete without the twinkle emitted by Hoda Kotb’s cheerful smile. It’s hard to picture anyone else in her role because she’s so dang good at it, but believe it or not, someone once told her she wasn’t cut out for broadcast journalism. Thankfully, she didn’t listen.

“I actually had a college professor who basically said, ‘Look, it’s a very competitive field and I’m just gonna try to save you some heartache. There’s a lot of people there and I just don’t know that you’d be one of the people who would make it in that industry,’” she revealed in a new interview with E! News. “I remember it so vividly because it was like a knife in my heart.”

But it didn’t stop her from following her dreams. In fact, it emboldened the tenacious quality that led her to accomplish what she has today. “I used to play high school basketball, so I believed until the buzzer hit that you could win. I believed that with everything in me,” she explained.

“I didn’t really think of the odds. I just went into that same weird mode that a lot of people go into because either you’re stubborn or you’re stupid. I just thought to myself, ‘I really like this and I want to try it and there are a lot of people who are going to say no, so it’s like you either trust your inside voice or all the outside voices.’” (Coming from a woman who wrote two best-selling books full of inspiring quotes, that should probably be one of them. )

Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images
Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, Hoda trusted herself. And although she got rejections starting out, she was given a few chances to succeed and that’s all she needed. To start her off, Stan Sandroni, then-news director of Mississippi’s WXVT gave her a local news reporting gig.

“I didn’t have talent. I didn’t have experience. I didn’t really have the TV look. I had none of the things you need in our industry... I was zero for zero,” Kotb recalled to E! News. “And even after all that, he hired me. I’m still to this day stunned.”

In a January episode of Today with Hoda & Jenna, the 56-year-old revealed the second boss who totally changed her career by giving her a “big break” on NBC’s Dateline in 1998. “It was Neal Shapiro,” she told Jenna Bush Hager. “I will tell you right now, I was not good enough. I really did not have the qualifications. I wasn’t as good as any of the correspondents. And for some reason, that guy, Neal Shapiro, took a risk.”

Since then, Hoda has won multiple broadcasting awards for her work, including three Emmys and a Peabody. So, it’s safe to say that her college professor was wrong.

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