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9 Quick Questions for Savannah Guthrie

‘Today’ show anchor writes new book, ‘Mostly What God Does’


spinner image savannah guthrie against yellow ombre background
Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Courtesy NBC)

Today show coanchor Savannah Guthrie, 52, hopes to inspire readers to lean into their faith with her new book of personal essays, Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere. While acknowledging her own Christian perspective, Guthrie hopes the book is also “universally appealing, in that there are reflections and lessons that can be compelling to people of different faiths — or no faith at all.” She shares how she talks to her kids about God, why she finds Taylor Swift inspiring and how she’s rearranging her priorities in her 50s.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What prompted you to write a book about your faith?

spinner image book cover that says mostly what god does, reflections on seeking and finding his love everywhere, savannah guthrie, new york times bestselling author
In her new book, Guthrie explores how her faith has affected her everyday life experiences.

Someone said, “Would you ever want to write something about faith?” And before I immediately said, “No, I don’t want to write anything about anything,” which is my usual response — I’m a mom. I’ve got a job. I’m not looking for extra credit. I don’t want to write a memoir. I don’t even remember my whole career. Plus, it’s boring. Who wants to hear about me? — [But] I was like, I could actually get excited and interested in that. It’s a passion. It’s because I find it endlessly interesting and intellectually challenging, and emotionally thrilling. I felt like I might be able to try that. I really just started with an essay, and then I started to have kind of a vision of different subjects and how things might fit in, and I just kind of followed it.

How do you talk to your kids [son Charley, 7, and daughter Vale, 9] about God?

Well, we talk about God all the time. I try to carry on what my sister so memorably said. … There were five Guthries, so she would say, “God was the sixth member of our family.” Both my husband and I try to keep God really present in our everyday lives. Obviously, we say our prayers at night, [and] if the kids are having a problem or something’s going on, or they mess up, I say, “It’s OK. Let’s tell the truth to God, tell the truth to yourself and it’s gone.” I just try to keep it current with them. The older they get, the harder their questions will be. My view is, my job as a mom is to share the faith that I know that has meant so much to me, especially because I know as their mom that I won’t always be able to be with them, protecting them. I know for myself that certainly as I became a young adult … I never felt alone, because I always felt God with me. I’m trying to share that God that I know with my kids, so that God is with them, too. So long after I’m gone, they will have that faith. But the part that I also know very clearly and accept is that faith is between any individual human and God. And I’m going to tell them what I know, and then it’s up to them to choose for themselves whether or not they believe, and I leave space for that.

It sounds like you and your daughter, Vale, had a different kind of spiritual experience not too long ago … at a Taylor Swift concert?

I knew that’s where you were going! I’m trying to get some boondoggle with our show [to go again in October]. I don’t want to be overly glib, so I won’t call it a spiritual experience, but I will call it a cultural and formative growing experience. I loved it probably more than my daughter did. It was amazing.

What do you think Taylor offers young women today?

I respect her songwriting. I respect her back-breaking and prodigious work ethic, and I appreciate and encourage my daughter’s fandom because she likes to watch [Swift’s documentary] Miss Americana. I say, “Now look how hard Taylor’s working. She’s writing her own songs. She plays several instruments. She never gives up. She’s always working hard. She has God-given talent … but God-given talent plus hard work can’t be beat — that’s a winning formula.” I very much encourage it.

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Do you play musical instruments?

I’m rediscovering this passion. I love music. I grew up playing the piano, and then I taught myself guitar, and I used to write songs and sing for most of my 20s and 30s. These last 10 years have been interesting — my 40s. I got this job at the Today show, I got married, I had my two kids. It’s been the best decade of my life where all my dreams came true. But it’s also a blur in so many ways. I turned 50 a couple years ago, and I’m just starting to rediscover some things that I used to really love, and music is one of them. I’m not looking to put out a record. I can barely sing anymore because now I’m 52 [and] my voice sounds hoarse — I sound like a man. It’s very depressing that I can’t sing like I used to sing a little bit, but I’m doing it because I love it.

What else — good or bad — has happened since you’ve hit 50?

The biggest thing is suddenly finding myself with a little more space and openness to revisit some things that I long cherished. I’ve also been remembering other kinds of goals, because — I don’t know if I should admit this — but I’m not really super goal-oriented in my 50s. I’m not like, I want to do this, and this is my bucket list, or that or that. I’m just like, I always did want to learn Spanish. Maybe I just will. … I’m kind of opening the aperture a little bit. I feel more open to letting in more things that are fun and fulfilling because these last 10 years have been just so all-out workwise, [and with] little kids. … But now, I’m starting to kind of come into this little quieter point of life. And so my eyes are open, my ears are open. I’m hoping to become a better, more faithful friend again — to call people. I try to keep and cherish my friendships all these years. I hopefully haven’t lost any.

With your demanding schedule, do you find time to exercise?

That’s big time on my list, actually. I haven’t done it. Yoga is the only thing I’m somewhat consistent about, although I have not, as we sit here today, done my yoga in like a month. I like yoga because you can do 10 minutes or you can do an hour. You can do easy or you can do something more exerting. It’s a great practice both physically and mentally and spiritually. Several times I’ve been like, I’m gonna do everyday yoga, even if it’s 20 minutes or 10 minutes, but do it every day for 30 days. It’s shocking how productive that is, and how much stronger you can get. A little goes a long way. I need to do strength training. I’m coming into that part of life now where I’m going to be hitting menopause here soon, I assume. I want to be strong, and I want to [live to] a good old age. It’s not about how I look or something, it’s more [that] I want to feel good.

spinner image craig melvin, savannah guthrie and hoda kotb on the set of the today show
Guthrie coanchors the “Today” show on NBC.
Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images

You haven’t felt extra pressure being on camera all these years about staying youthful looking?

No, of course, I’m a basket of physical insecurity. I would be [that way] with or without being on the Today show. I don’t need to be on TV to be totally insecure and have a whole bunch of hang-ups about my physical appearance. I try not to give in too much to those voices, but of course they’re ever-present.

Is there someone who inspired you early in your career?

Oh definitely. In the news, Katie Couric was my hero, Diane Sawyer. I mean those were my idols. And Katie — she knows this — how great [it is] in life that you actually get to meet someone that you so admired, but also become friendly with [them]. It was her birthday yesterday [and] we texted. What I remember about Katie was … [that] she didn’t look like everyone else and she didn’t sound like everyone else … she was really herself. And even though I’m different, I remember seeing that and recognizing that in her, and believing that I could be myself like that [on camera]. So I always know that … your representation matters. … You need to see that to believe that you can do you. You need to see an example.

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