The Sit Down: Sara Haines

Sara Haines started off with dreams of being a sketch-comedy actor. Through a lot of hard work, a great attitude and a little good karma she has made an incredible career for herself on television—and as luck would have it, she’s also ended up behind the hosts’ desk with me on GMA Day. I couldn’t ask for a better wing person; without getting too mushy on you, it’s kind of a match made in heaven. She works hard, she has (a lot of) fun, and she’s one of the most gracious people I’ve ever come across in my career—she definitely leaves a room better than the way she entered it, and that makes her a pleasure to work with. And I know she would agree with me that every day on GMA Day is better than the last. The only thing that makes me a little bit nervous is her need for speed—like, the jumping out of planes kind. I don’t think I’m ready to swim with sharks or dive off any cliffs anytime soon, but if I’m facing my fears for the sake of our fans and the show, there’s no person I’d rather be doing it with than Sara.

Her story: “I have always loved performing. Plus, I’m a middle child and I always needed attention. I remember once when I was at a basketball game, my whole team started singing Grease songs afterwards, and my parents called me aside and said, ‘Sara, it’s not always about you.’ That was a jarring memory, but I think it was pivotal because it reminded me that I can enjoy performing but listening and allowing others to have their own moments was crucial. I think that’s given me a balance and where I find my joy in this job.”

Her career: “I think every good thing that’s ever happened to me has been a lot of happy accidents. I always wanted to do improv and sketch comedy specifically. I was working in TV to learn the business, but then the landscape of TV changed and there was more room for entertainment and fun and it allowed someone like me to flourish in the industry. I’ve been thanking my lucky stars every day since.”

Her routine: “I wake up around 5 a.m. I have coffee and read any notes that have been sent for GMA Day. I shower and I try to see my kids [Alec, two, and Sandra, nine months] before I leave the house. After we tape GMA Day each morning, I’m usually running around either for production meetings or post tapes. When I get home from work, the kids are usually napping and I’m on duty until my husband gets home. We take a lot of walks because it’s easier to keep track of two kids when they are strapped in a stroller.”

Her gratitude: “The best part of what I do is getting the honor of telling an inspirational story. I think there are angels among us and when there’s a chance to highlight someone who is extraordinary—and I say extraordinary because there literally are ordinary people with that extra oomph that make them like deities. When I get a chance to tell their stories, I float. Those are the days I feel most grateful for what I do.”

Her turning point: “During my early years in New York when I was training to be an actor, I took a TV-hosting course which was completely new to me. I had only tried comedy and dramatic acting, but the hosting class came more easily to me. I realized acting as other people was not going to serve me as well as just being myself.”

Her greatest risk: “Taking a job at a different network. I left one network where I had started my career and my coworkers were practically my family, and it was a big leap to leave a place that was comfortable and where everything was familiar, but I did it with the hope that it would take me to a better place in life … and it did.”

Her co-host: “Michael and I have known each other for about four years; we met here at Good Morning America. My favorite story was when we went to a horror movie with [ABC anchor] Amy Robach, and we laughed so hard because to see a man Michael’s size who’s in the Football Hall of Fame and scaring the living daylights out of everyone because he’s screaming at such a high pitch is hilarious. I also love Michael’s contagious laugh. Multiple times a day, he starts to laugh, and I feel it without even knowing what he’s laughing about. It’s my favorite quality about him.”

Her show: “Hosting the show itself is even better than what I expected. Seeing everyone behind the camera, in addition to Michael and me, trying new things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t has been so exciting. The creativity on the show, and our team, is amazing. Our chemistry has been there since day one and it just gets more fun with every passing day.”

Her style: “I’m still learning my style because it takes a long time to figure out who you are in life and then to have that reflected on the outside; to break through the mold of what people want you to be wearing. I’ve been wearing a lot of sneakers lately. People want to see women in heels, but that just doesn’t suit me, so you have to color inside the lines before you break outside of them. I am in the process of breaking through.”

Her must-haves: Stoka bars are my jam right now. I love ‘em. And eggs because I can eat those all day long. My AirPods because I don’t have to use my hands anymore. Netflix, facials and skincare, anything from Athleta. And any fiction book: I have a deep passion for books and if someone recommends it, I will read the whole thing and I often can’t put it down. It’s like my one escape where my brain focuses.”

Her greatest influences: “I definitely admire my parents most of all, purely because I think every good quality I have was either given to me directly from their genes or taught to me along the way. The wisdom of knowing what matters in life came from them putting family first and [showing me] that life will provide a lot of sparkly distractions but never to lose focus on what truly matters.”

Her “happy place”: “It used to be with my two Chihuahuas snuggled up in bed and binge-watching TV, and now it’s with my human babies.”

Her parenting style: “Strict. My husband, Max [Shifrin], and I both came into [parenting] wanting to model my parents. You couldn’t get away with anything, and I think they instilled a certain fear more so than any teacher, principal, or law-enforcement officer; but I respected them and I wanted to do well so they were proud of me. I think that tougher love gave me a place in the world and a healthy attitude.”

Her motto: “Keep your eye on the ball and never lose sight of what matters in life.”

Her best advice: “My cousin once told me if anyone ever asks you to make a cup of coffee, make the best cup of coffee you’ve ever made or why would they trust you with anything else? It’s worked for me ever since.”

What’s next: “There are no surprises planned specifically for the show, but I’m an adrenaline junkie and I know Michael isn’t, so I would like to see him try some of those stunts that I love. I’ve been skydiving and bungee jumping, and I’d love to learn to scuba dive. I think we grow as humans when we face our fears and I’d love to do that with Michael. What’s literally up next is I’m going away this weekend with my husband and no kids so it will be two days of relaxation.”