By Moonah Ellison & Sophie Fox-Sowell
Photography: Matt Monath
NYM: How do you balance such a busy life – between hosting multiple TV shows and having two children?
SG: It’s definitely a juggling act. My mom always laughs at me because my life motto, since I was a teenager, is “How hard can it be?,” that’s what I’ve always said. And sometimes you realize it can be pretty hard – but you figure it out anyways.
Sara hosts Open House, a weekly show on NBC that gives viewers expert advice on DIY projects from the industry’s top designers in interior decorating and home improvement. In addition to co-hosting New York Live with Jacque Reid, a lifestyle talk show that airs daily from Rockefeller Center, she hosts the Emmy’s and the Golden Globes. Did we mention she also writes, shoots, and produces a cooking segment at her house every Sunday called #breakfastwithopenhouse where she cooks breakfast for her family! How does she find the time to even take a breath?
SG: I think that over the years, I’ve loosened the restrictions and allowed myself to be proud of who I am and what I’ve produced. I’m in a really good place in my life, when you’re happy and your family’s happy and everyone’s working together, things are just good.
NYM: Is there someone or something that inspired you or helped you get where you are in your life?
SG: I think my mother did any amazing job keeping us strong and motivated and feeling like we could accomplish anything. I’m the youngest of three girls and she really instilled in us that we could do anything that we wanted to do. Even when times were tough and you’re in your early 20s and you’re thinking, “Am I really doing what’s best for my future, should I stick on this path?” No matter what, my mother was always behind me saying, “If this is what you need to be doing, then do it. You’ll figure it out.”
NYM: Are there any women’s issues in the media that you believe are not addressed?
SG: As a working mom, you have to be very aware of not saying too much about your children like, “Got to go do this,” or “Got to go take care of my kids.” I think you still have it in the back of your mind that you don’t want to be passed up for a potential opportunity because you have kids.
These days, women are putting off having kids to focus on their careers. But even after mothers return to the office, they try to stifle their maternal instinct and not mention the pink elephant in their child’s crib back at home for fear of getting passed up for a promotion, special projects, or extra work. Though if anything, shouldn’t having kids make women better multitaskers?
SG: Since I’ve had kids, I’ve really recognized my strengths and am aware that I am able to handle and manage things much more efficiently and effectively. Children challenge and help you realize what you are capable of.
NYM: What are your thoughts on young adults having so much exposure to the digital space?
SG: Technology is taking over—it honestly frightens me. The bullying that existed when I was young is one hundred times more heightened because of the exposure they have to the internet now. I think a lot of kids especially now hide behind social media and say things online that wouldn’t normally say. It’s powerful and can be very hurtful for children.
NYM: It’s a different world, but it’s still a scary world.
SG: There are going to be a lot more necessary conversations earlier in their lives because they’re exposed to so much more at an earlier age.
NYM: Where does education fit into all of that?
SG: [Ironically] my husband thinks that once our children are college age that everything will be done online. I hope the cost of education goes down. It doesn’t make any sense for schools to cost so much and for kids not to have any way to pay for it. Obviously, I want my kids to have an education—I just hope they don’t spend the next 30 years paying it off.
NYM: The environment seems to be weighing a lot on people’s minds nowadays – low water supply, climate change, resource conservation – is it something that you worry about?
SG: I don’t think it’s something you think about heavily until you have kids. We try to teach [them] how important it is to take care of your environment. Even at his age, our three year old knows not to leave the lights on when he leaves a room, not to let the water run when he’s brushing his teeth, to recycle. He knows all about recycling and about which bin things go in. They’re talking about those things in school too. [My son] goes to an excellent nursery school in Bronxville.
NYM: It all counts. What do you do when you want to come down a peg or two to zone out and just be in your own space?
SG: I put my headphones in and cook. I cook when I have to and I cook when I want to – so I cook a lot.
NYM: What is the food that strikes home with you?
SG: Now that I live in Westchester and have a yard, my favorite things are what come out of my garden. I have an abundance of tomatoes right now, so there are a lot of tomato dishes happening. I used to work for Jean Georges so I used to do a lot of French inspired dishes – but they require a lot of ingredients and a lot of time. And although I [still] love to cook, my cooking has gotten a lot simpler.
NYM: If there was thing that you feel as people, we all don’t do enough of in life, what is it?
SG: It’s definitely difficult to do, especially with two working parents, but one thing that I’ve done in my house is turn off our phones and sit down to dinner every night. I think it’s really important to be able to connect with your children, on so many levels –as far as children being able to have an open conversation with you. They say that if you have dinner with them every night, it forces them to check in. If we start doing this from a young age, hopefully we’ll have a closer family.