What makes a person a star? Is it charisma-a certain look- style, intelligence, heart? Why are we attracted to their special light? A person who becomes a star has to have that certain “something.” You can’t really describe it-but it is easily identified: they have the ‘it” factor. Somehow they are irresistible. We feel like we know them. Some come into our homes via TV-some through films-radio-some through publications. But ALL stars have a special gift created by their own identity. In Bridget Smith’s case, her loving heart coupled with her beauty, endearing smile and loving eyes manifests her own personal identity wherever she goes. Simply put: You can’t help but love Bridgett Smith. Host of Great Day SA in San Antonio Texas, Bridget saunters onto the Great Day set five days a week at 9AM sharp! Her charisma reaches into the audience and jets through the TV screen inviting her viewers into her own private space as they invite her into their homes. This is a very intimate gesture on both parts. There is an element of trust, love and respect that transpires between Bridget and her viewers. Great Day SA is the number one morning show on Kens5 for a very specific reason- The talent and heart of TTW’s cover girl: Bridget Smith.
The heart of Bridget Smith is greatly needed in America today. We need heroes, role models, courage and inspirational figures contributing to our communities. The term “celebrity” rarely holds a positive connotation to its title anymore. The press is engaged in a constant feeding frenzy with Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen. These celebrities hold an enormous amount of power. If used properly, they could influence our communities in a positive and cathartic way. The term celebrity carries a cloak of responsibility that rests on the shoulders of those wearing the title. Greatness is found in the heart and one’s ability to use it appropriately. Unfortunately, society in general has become numb- floating like ships- stumbling in a sea of mediocrity. We are surrounded by waves pounding back and forth….pushing us all in the same direction.
But sometimes in life, someone throws us a life jacket. People of substance and heart are easily identified: Like beacons of light they spread their heart across the sea and light the way for all of us to see through a different set of eyes. The receptive can feel a dancing heart and respond to its kindness. Some are attracted to the light- to the warmth of a beautiful smile that illuminates an entire room. In rare instances that special heart can supersede the norm and light up the sky light a shooting star. In fact, some gifted hearts actually become stars: Not in the Universe but in life itself. Those gifted “stars” come into our homes via TV and invite us to receive the gift right where we are sitting…five days a week- for free.
San Antonio is blessed by a rare and gifted heart…a star who dedicates her brilliant light to the better good of all. Today’s Texas Woman is proud to present the heart of Bridgett Smith to America: Not for the glamour ofbeing a star but because her heart made her a star. Stories of great women representing kindness and heart need to be told. They help put “human” back into humanity- by example they will help lead us and leave their stamp upon the lives they have touched and changed forever. Empowered women will be able to pass the torch of inspiration and heart to others in need. May God continue to bless this gifted woman: May her light continue to shine as the brightest star in the Texas sky.
Ladies and gentleman, with a grateful heart, Today’s Texas Woman proudly presents our star of the heart: BRIDGETT SMITH.
Freya: “Who gave you your start in TV?”
Bridget: “Well, that is a very interesting story! I was studying communications in college and intended to become a Psychologist. I was going to open a clinic on the East-side and give free sessions to people in my community. My internship coordinator came to me and said I could sit out a semester or go to Kens5 TV which was the first company on my internship list. I thought I would wind up in a hospital- clinical setting-which would involve a lot of interaction with people: so interacting with people in a TV setting seemed like a good fit. I really had NO intentions of winding up in the entertainment industry. I just let God guide me. I thought I would get some credit hours-I had no expectations whatsoever!”
Freya: “What were your duties as an intern?”
Bridget: “I started working on the floor at 6AM-getting coffee for producers- getting scripts, running a camera-getting yelled at. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow found myself in the newsroom talking to the iconic Chris Marou. I grew up watching Chris who eventually said he needed an assistant. I moved from the production studio to the newsroom. I eventually became very good friends with Leslie Mouton who was the morning show anchor. I wound up working full time as an intern-with no pay- with Leslie in the morning and Chris in the afternoon. Looking back I can say my real break came when I traveled with Leslie to L.A. to do a behind the scenes shoot at The Young and the Restless. Because we were good friends, we had decided to do a girls week-end out. We would go to L.A. on Saturday then come back to SA.on Monday- we just wanted to make it fun.”
Freya: “What happened in L.A?”
Bridget: “Oh wow! It was not what we expected! We arrived on Saturday afternoon-expecting to go to the set on Monday-then come home. Sunday night in the hotel room-about 4:00 in the morning- we were getting ready to go to bed-them wham! I noticed my perfume bottle on the night stand began to tap. I am a light sleeper, so I sat up in bed and kept watching that perfume bottle fly off the nightstand. Then all the furniture was thrown across the room-the entire room was lifted off the floor. Now I’m a girl from Texas! I did not intend to wind up in the 1991 earthquake in L.A! My life changed forever at 4:31 Am Sunday night. Leslie and I ended up staying in L.A. for the entire week. Needless to say, we never made it to the set of The Young and the restless! We were only 15 miles from the epicenter in Northridge. They shut down the freeways-there were people dead…there was massive devastation all around us”.
“Leslie began reporting live. Everybody thought Kens5 had sent a reporter to cover the quake. They had no idea how we got there –or for what reason! We got to our CBS bureau and got hooked up with CNN and some other stations. We were able to do live shots from Northridge for Kens5. We were supposed to return that Friday, but Leslie told me I should go on the air and talk about the experience-something I had never done before. When the earthquake hit, I just started screaming “Help me Lord Jesus…help Bridgett- Lord Jesus! Oh blessed sweet name of Jesus!” Leslie thought I was so funny and wanted me to come on the show and describe what had happened. She kept saying I had to go on the morning show-I HAD to tell the story myself! I guess she had never seen anyone pray like that before! Yeah I started prayin’…. because I thought I was going to meet my maker! So-I went on the air and told my story. Right afterwards, the news director Bob Rogers (who was very tall and intimidating!) came up to me. I thought…Uh-Oh…I’m in trouble now! He very dryly said: “I saw you on TV this morning-you’ve got something very special-Marou’s been telling me that girl’s got personality!” I go- really? He goes: “yep! I’d like to talk about it in my office.” As I walked towards Bob’s office I went to Marou and asked what he said to Bob. Chris just said: “I told him you had this incredible personality and tell the best stories- you needed to be on TV.” I was stunned! I had no TV experience. I told Chris I didn’t need to be on no TV! I was about to graduate college –was going on to get my Masters. I was going to open up a clinic and become a Psychologist…you know: I had a plan!! I had no TV experience- I had nothing!”
Freya: “Wow. Isn’t it strange how WE think WE have a plan-then God jumps in and says: I don’t THINK so!! I always say: Come up with a plan and God laughs! What happened after that?”
Bridgett: “Well, Chris said he wanted to do something new on the 10 O’clock news. He wanted someone young to go out every day and find fun stories-go to clubs, bowling alleys, and car races- anything fun and different. Well, I had been at Kens long enough to know that any up and coming reporter striving to get into a major market- knew the 10 O’clock news was where you needed to be! So- Bob sends me out with a veteran reporter and tells me to put together a story- write it- track it –and she would make sure it gets “fed back.” He tells me to go out there and “toss it” to Marou- to go LIVE! OMG! I said: You want me to do WHAT?! I’m freakin’ OUT! But Bob told me to just go out there and toss it back to Marou- (like I knew what THAT meant!) If I hadn’t known Chris so well- if Chris hadn’t have been such a dear friend, my nerves would have been shot! But, strangely enough, I felt perfectly comfortable with him. So- out I went to a club on San Pedro- I’ll never forget it…I went to a club-talked to some people- had some fun. Then the red light came on and Marou says: “Bridget joins us LIVE from Planet X!” It was the most natural thing for me….that live shot I was so freaked out about, turned out to be just plain fun. My life changed forever that day. Since that shoot, I have never looked back.”
Freya: “How did your reporting differ from anyone else’s? Was your focus on the event or the person?”
Bridget: “I was the different one- I had wild hair, no voice coaching-didn’t look like anybody else on TV- I just went out and reported on whatever they asked to report on. Sometimes I was sent out to cover a fire or a car-jacking-whatever. But I would always ask what happened to the person who was hi-jacked- what happened to his girlfriend-who was the family in the fire-what happened to them-where did they go after the fire-how could we help them? I’m just interested in people-I always found the human part of the story. Since I had no experience in reporting, I had to learn as I went. I didn’t know if I should talk to the cop on the scene first- if I should call PD first and ask for information- or should I trust people on the scene? I didn’t know about how to go about fact finding- I think that was a disservice to me. I learned quickly that wasn’t my strength. I was into people. In a relatively short period of time I was offered a two year contract and stopped working with Marou. I became a reporter and was working every night. I became very well known- very quickly. It was a lot to handle for me. I remember the day a gossip columnist from the San Antonio Express News called to do a story on me. I said: What? Why would they do a story on ME? It was surreal.”
Freya: “How did you deal with the instant stardom?”
Bridgett: “It was just crazy Freya. I had a plan-and thought that was the path I supposed to be was on. But I have always known God was in charge of my life-so I listened and let Him lead me- I was open to that lead. I began reporting. I won some awards- began to cover celebrity events like The Country Music Awards- started going to L.A. to interview celebrities-covered red carpet events. It was a lot for somebody who had no experience whatsoever-but I loved it-I loved the people-and that carried me through. You know Freya? There’s not one person in life I’m NOT interested in! This is an obvious blessing for me. I grew up in church and am so rooted in God and how He shows up in my life-there is no doubt He gave me a certain spiritual gifting to love people. I feel a kinship with other people. Like when I first met you…..there’s just a light around some people- it doesn’t make them any better or worse than anybody else-you just know it when you see it. People tell me I’m just like what they see on TV. That is not the case most of the time in this business. I want people to feel they can come up to me and say “Hi” in the super-market-in the bank-wherever. When I became the host of Great Day SA I learned quickly there is no handbook for a host-you have to come out there and engage the audience-thank the TV audience for having us in their homes. This show gives you no opportunity to be false in your intention-the camera never lies-what you see is what you get: total transparency. TV leaves you very exposed. My mother was that way-so was my Grand-mother and grand-father. Everyone says I’m so funny-but my FAMILY is FUNNY! My Grand-mother is 87 and is 10 times funnier than me!”
Freya: “Tell me about how you were raised-your family life.”
Bridget: “I came from a strong family of women. My father was never in the picture. My family gave me the feeling I could do anything in life. I remember being seven years old in Catholic school and wanting to become a teacher. I guess I wanted to become a teacher because I loved to communicate. I’d write on the chalk board and get up and talk to the classroom-I got in a lot of trouble for it. My grand-father would get calls from the Nuns. He used to tell me: “Bridget-I want you to focus on studying: Because nobody is ever gonna’ pay you for talkin’!” Unfortunately, he never got to see me on TV.
“I was raised in the Baptist church-Sunday school was not optional-it was a chance for my family to get together. My grand-father was the head Deacon my grand-mother was one of the head ladies. I taught myself to play the Hammond organ at 9-I took classical piano lessons and told my grand-mother I wanted to perform Gospel music. As I got older I began to understand the Bible and who God was in my life. It was strange: Here was a Baptist girl in a Catholic school. I learned all the Rosary’s, did the Holy Water thing, went to the Nun’s funerals-Boy-I had a lot of religion growing up! But I always felt a connection to Christ at an early age. Even when I got to St. Mary’s University-even the dorm I wound up in: I look back now and see how it all came together. I had no idea what I was going to major in. All I knew is that I wanted to help people-possibly be a psychologist. There was a chapel next to the dorm. Three times a week I would go and pray for at least an hour. Class started at 10 so I’d get up at 8 and go to the chapel at 9 for an hour. My prayer was always for direction. I would tell God: “I don’t know what you want me to do, but use me. I want people to be able to see you in me-in whatever I do. I envisioned me helping people-helping people with a bigger connection than just being a psychologist. I would tell God: I know you want me to be a light-so please help me be that person.” I prayed that three times a week in the chapel. Looking back, I can see how those prayers were answered in a way I could have never imagined. I remember being 5 or six and seeing my grand-father on his knees showing me how to pray to Jesus. I would follow his lead and it just became a part of me throughout my entire life. I talk to God all day long. I was going to the studio the other day and was on Loop 410. I was having a conversation with God the whole way. I thanked Him for this life, for the experiences I’ve had. Sometimes after the show, I come into my office, close the door and just pray. I thank God and pray for clarity- I don’t want to move through this experience and be dis-connected from how big it truly is. This is not gonna’ last forever-this is what God has ordained for me to do. I don’t mean “big” as big meaning being on TV every day. I mean “big” as when a 7th. Grader comes up to me and says: “Oh-I watch you and admire you…I spend an hour with you learning.” I want to always be connected to the real reason I am doing this for. I realize there are over a million people in this city and anyone could have gotten this job. But for some reason, this was for me…and I want God to know I am grateful for it and will use it wisely. I don’t want to move through each day thinking this is a “job.” It is much bigger than a job. I don’t know what’s next for me-I never even knew THIS was for me! I don’t live my life like I KNOW what is coming. I have no 5 or 10 year plan. My life has always been led by the spirit of Christ…that may sound crazy to most people….no- not to you Freya! But like you- I want to serve people. All people are important to me…the Billionaire-the man on the street-the small child-the mom and dad-everyone is important to me.”
“I guess I got my spirit from my Mother. She was 20 times more flamboyant than me-so funny-crazy-out of control….kind of like you Freya: Everywhere she went people loved her spirit. She died of Breast Cancer at only 56. I never imagined my Grand-mother would still be here and my Mother gone. I am just grateful my Mom got to see me become a reporter-she was so proud. She never got to see me as the host of Great Day SA: I don’t know how she would have handled that sort of notoriety. What she imparted to me was the most important thing of all: Christ. She taught me that Christ never forces Himself on anyone. He makes Himself known and allows us to choose Him. I know without a shadow of a doubt I will see my Mother in Heaven. I hope she is as proud of me as I am of her. A person’s relationship with God is like a muscle. You have to use it-practice it. I’ve been doing it for so many years now- Like: I know when you leave today I’ll be tellin’ God to watch over Freya- inspire her-cause she’s has a light inside. We are sharing friendship at this moment and this particular moment will never come again-so I tell God I am grateful for it. What I am saying to you now, is what I would say to everybody-it is who I am. God is in everything I do and everything I feel. Everyday my faith-walk get’s stronger because I get challenged with something new. I don’t walk around everyday saying life is perfect- or I have everything figured out. Oh no-sometimes God has to slow me down and say stop worrying about the same old stuff- it’s like He is saying: If you want me to fix it-to heal it-you have to let it go! People seem to celebrate just about everything-so why not God!? You have to be BOLD!”
“I always feel very connected to everybody. One day on the show, I had a total melt-down…it had to do with my Grand-mother. I just recognized something in an instant- I felt very raw and exposed. I began to think about my family heritage-my Grandparents. My Great Grandfather, my Father’s father, founded a real estate company and oil company in Columbus Mississippi. He and his family owned the largest group of slaves in Lowns County-he was a white mean and my Grand-mother was born into that family-her mother was obviously black. She was a maid who lived in the house with my Great-grandfather. He was married-but they were having relations. My Grand-Mother was born into this amazing family legacy. My Great-Grandfather was one of the architects for the Freeman Coliseum-my Grand-Parents family was one of the wealthiest families in Columbus. But on the other side of the tracts I had cousins who were very poor. I saw the black and the white separated-but they’re all MY family! So one day on the show, I got the clarity that I’ve come out of a place where my Grand-Mother and Mother’s side of the family- were very dis-enfranchised-very disconnected from the other side of the family because they were black. I thought: Here I am in a major city-on TV everyday-as a bi-racial-black girl- when my Grandmother couldn’t have even imagined being SEEN with my great grandfather because he was black: Boy-was that a moment for me! I think it was June-tenth-which was the day the slaves got word they were free. I thought wow-I’ve come out of a heritage and walked into a legacy that my Grandparents couldn’t have dreamed of! Just think-they didn’t even HAVE a TV-and here I was on TV every day!”
Freya: “What is your message to black men and women today?”
Bridget: “My message is that our skin color doesn’t make us relevant. Obviously, we walk into a room and people know if we are black or white! What we do with our lives and the impact we have on people is so much more important than the color of our skin. I’m no better or worse because I am black. I was raised not to “see” color.” My grandparents remember a day when they couldn’t drink out of the same water fountains as white people. I have so many mixed feelings about this. I love the idea of black history month- but I think when we say black history…we should be saying these people are Americans- this is “American history.” As long as we continue to set people aside -like: They’re black and they’re doin’ somethin’ crazy-or they’re Latina and they’re doin’ somethin’ crazy- a long as we continue to do that-we are SEPARATING people. As long as we continue to do that Freya, I think the world is going to be comfortable putting everybody in a box. Maybe people feel they are going to lose their identity if they don’t have a label; you know…I’m black, white, Asian, Latina- whatever. We don’t need labels-we are human beings.”
Freya: “If God granted you one wish-what would it be?”
Bridget: “Freya- these are some deep questions! One wish: My one wish for the whole world would be that everybody would love each other like God loves us: Perfectly-without judgment. I would wish that people didn’t need to label one another- to put everyone in a box: We are all just people. Wouldn’t that be a perfect world Freya? If we all loved each other…like God…loves us? Think how the world would be if we loved each other the way God loves us….I can’t even imagine. I hope when we leave this earth people would say something meaningful about us-that we cared-that we loved. I guess that’s the legacy I want to leave: That I loved: Yes- that is it – the most important thing of all: that I loved.”