Spotlight on Business Magazine had an open and candid conversation with Tomi Lahren, Fox News contributor and host of “No Interruption” and “Final Thoughts” on the digital streaming platform Fox Nation discussing everything with this small-town girl from South Dakota including her childhood to her life now in Nashville. Tomi shares some life lessons she has learned on her way to being the youngest political talk show host in history, along with her fearless outlook on life, her deep passion for her country and those that serve and protect it. But more importantly why Tomi believes that everyone needs to have a voice, especially other young women willing to speak their minds. She believes that everyone has a right to be heard even if we might disagree with their message and that at the end of the day it is okay to agree to disagree.
Spotlight: Tell us a little about yourself, what was it like growing up in South Dakota? What types of careers did your parents have? Do you have any siblings?
Tomi Lahren: I wouldn’t trade my childhood or upbringing for anything in the world. I grew up in the country on about 12 acres of land. I didn’t have kids my age near where I lived so I spent most of my time by myself, with adults or outside with my animals. I grew up with every pet you can think of. We had horses, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, hamsters, all of it. I always enjoyed being out in wide open spaces.
My parents both grew up on ranches and my uncle still runs the family ranch in Eastern South Dakota. Both of my parents worked and still work full time jobs. Some may say average blue-collar Americans, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as an “average American.” Our blue-collar workers are the backbone of this country. I was raised to work hard, pray hard, and not ask for anything from anybody. South Dakotans are proud yet humble people.
I am an only child and couldn’t imagine it any other way. I believe it was that independence that allowed me to excel to where I am today. I am very close with my parents who always encouraged me to go for gold and never hesitate to break the mold.
Spotlight: What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not keeping the people of America informed about political ongoings?
Tomi Lahren: I’m a pretty simple gal. When I’m not working, I enjoy going out in Nashville with my friends, listening to LIVE music and checking out of politics. It’s a good weekend day when I don’t feel the need to check Twitter even once. I do an unconventional job but when I’m not on air or working, I am just like any other 28-year-old. I am in a new relationship now with a baseball TV/radio analyst. He is based in Miami, so I have been getting down there every weekend I am able.
Fitness and lifestyle are also important to me. I run 5 miles everyday which allows me to blow off steam and get my mind into a good groove for the day ahead. I also enjoy spending time with my little rescue chihuahua, Kota.
Spotlight: You attended and graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2014 with a B.A. in broadcast journalism and political science. When did you first become interested in politics? Were either of your parents politically active when you were growing up?
Tomi Lahren: I have always been political and opinionated. That stems from my outspoken nature I was born with but was fostered by watching the nightly news with my parents. I have always cared about this country more than anything and always felt Middle America was largely ignored or lost in the shuffle. That is one of the main reasons I wanted to be in media. I have always wanted to give a voice to the forgotten Americans—those in small towns and small states that don’t get the limelight or coverage but matter just the same as those in big and urban cities. I’ve never much cared what the elites in DC, LA or NYC have to say, I want to know, understand and advocate for the things that matter to real people.
Spotlight: While at the University of Nevada you hosted and associate produced the university’s political roundtable show, “The Scramble.” Is this when you realized this might be a possible career choice for you?
Tomi Lahren: I have always known this was going to be my career path. I have never wanted to do anything else. The Scramble taught me how to put together a show, listen to opposing and diverse views and take a back seat when needed.
I discovered my voice at a very young age and ever since then, I’ve wanted to use my ability to explain, connect and deliver a message to the masses from a perspective that is uniquely my own. I don’t try to be something I am not, never have. I don’t try to talk over people’s heads or in terms they can’t relate to or connect with. I am a small-town girl with a fearless outlook on life and a deep passion for my country. Mix that in with my can-do attitude and my willingness to outwork most and I’ve enjoyed building a career I am very proud of.
Spotlight: What was it like to intern for South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem? What valuable lessons or insight did you take away from that opportunity and how have you applied that to your career?
Tomi Lahren: My internship with then Congresswoman Noem taught me more about what I did not want to do. I have little desire to be in politics. I don’t like the game of it all. That experience taught me I’d rather be on the outside, in the media, serving as a watchdog and a check on power. I’ve done that throughout my career whether it be at the local level speaking out against my Nashville Mayor or on the state level exposing California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Spotlight: What mentors did, or do you have now? You inspire many, but who inspires you and why?
Tomi Lahren: It may sound cliché, but my mentors are my parents. I didn’t grow up with money or status, but my parents gave me something far more valuable, work ethic and grit.
They, and people like them, inspire me. I am motivated by the ranchers, the farmers, police officers, factory workers, border patrol and ICE agents. I am inspired by those who work hard, ask little in return and sacrifice themselves to serve their country and community with honor and dignity. The fact I can be a voice for those people means the world to me and pushes me to keep going.
Spotlight: Tell us about how applying for an internship at One America News Network (OANN) changed your life? What is the biggest lesson you have learned along the way? What was your biggest surprise? What was your biggest disappointment?
Tomi Lahren: My big opportunity at OAN changed my life forever. I was looking for an internship and ended up with a job and my own show before I even graduated college because I took the initiative to go after it. I picked up the phone and called several times. I was hung up on the first few times but that didn’t stop me. The owner appreciated my tenacity and asked me to come in for a screen test. I was nervous and anxious as any 21-year-old vying for his/her first job would be, but I never let it show. I have a mantra that I am going to walk into any room and own it. I don’t let fear or insecurity get in my way and that is a habit I have sustained throughout my career and even in my personal life.
The biggest lesson I have learned along the way is to trust my gut feeling. I have trusted a lot of the wrong people throughout my career. That comes from my upbringing and my belief everyone is inherently good. While that may often be true, I’ve learned this industry will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t play smart and close to the vest with some aspects. That is also my biggest surprise, people I have trusted along the way turning on me when it was convenient or gave them a moment of spotlight. That is also the biggest disappointment.
My lawsuit with TheBlaze was a season of my life that was brutal to go through, but I would never change it or take it back. I learned a lot about who I am and what I can withstand. I also learned that the truth, integrity and what is right is ALWAYS worth fighting for, even when it comes at a price.
Spotlight: You are an amazing role model for women on both sides of the border for going after your goals and not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in. What advice do you have for females or any readers for that matter when it comes to going after your dreams and staying true to yourself in the journey?
Tomi Lahren: My advice to women is to never doubt who you are or compromise it for anything. Take away all the followers, the likes, the comments, the fluff and remember who you are inside. That is something that is NEVER worth selling out for. You may lose friends and followers by being 100% authentically and unapologetically you but I stopped worrying about that a long time ago. I am far more concerned with losing myself trying to please others.
Your confidence and self-worth are the most valuable thing you have. They cannot take that away from you.
Spotlight: Often Tomi you are in the spotlight for your controversial comments, but when it comes to your personal life you fly pretty much under the radar of the public eye. How are you able to do that?
Tomi Lahren: Unfortunately, I don’t fly under the radar most of the time. I get a kick out of the articles that tell me who I am dating. It’s comical sometimes. I like to strike a balance between letting people in and showing them every side of me and also keeping some things private and close to the vest. It really is a balancing act. I will say, part of the reason I have the career and the brand I have is that I am not afraid to show people all the dimensions of me. I do an unconventional job, but I am just like anybody else. I don’t mind showing people that. It’s how they relate to me and know I am a real human being. It’s a bond I form with my audience that has allowed me to build the following I have.
Spotlight: Do you see yourself ever running for political office?
Tomi Lahren: I don’t envision that for myself because the dirty business of politics isn’t appealing to me. I wouldn’t enter myself into that arena unless I truly felt my voice and leadership was absolutely necessary. For now, I am happy to be on this side holding our elected leaders accountable and exposing the swamp.
Spotlight: Most if not all of our readers have seen one of your “Final Thoughts” segments, and we have to ask where the signature hand gesture sign off came from?
Tomi Lahren: The wave at the end started way back at the Blaze. My style has always been very matter of fact and that ending just caps off my message. I am usually delivering a monologue that is punchy, direct and passionate. The wave at the end is almost a little wink and a nod to my haters.
Spotlight: Where do you see yourself professionally in the next 5 years?
Tomi Lahren: When we make plans, God laughs. I don’t know where the next 5 years will take me, but I can promise you this, I will always be 100% authentically and unapologetically me. There’s not enough money or fame in the world that could sidetrack me away from my values and core beliefs. I won’t bend for anyone or anything. Freedom and the ability to tell it like it is matters most to me, above all else.
If you want to get more of Tomi Lahren you can watch her daily commentary on Fox’s streaming platform, Fox Nation. You can also follow Tomi on social media @TomiLahren for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
So, in the words of Tomi herself, “God bless and take care.”
by Lee Ann Atwater