As I have had the honor of interviewing some amazing local celebrities over the past few years, few have been as completely honest and real as KMOVs Great Day St Louis Host, Virginia Kerr. From her past - to the present - Virginia laid it all out there during our up close & personal interview for the readers of Lipstik - so here we go:
Q: Can you share a little bit about growing up with the Readers of Lipstik?
A: I grew up in Birmingham Alabama and I am the oldest of three children. Im 38, my brother Roberts 34 and my sister Natalie is 31. My whole family is still in Alabama and I make a conscious effort to go back home at least twice a year, and they try to make a trip here at least twice a year. My sister Natalie is truly my best friend, we talk on the phone during my 45 minute commute home almost every night.
Q: How did you end up in St. Louis at KMOV News 4?
A: My career in broadcast journalism started after I graduated from the University of Alabama. In the summer of 98, I drove all the way to Missoula, Montana by myself, in my 1990 Volvo. The NBC affiliate there offered me a job as morning anchor after a phone interview. My mom was the one who talked me into to taking it sight unseen. She said, View this experience as graduate school, if you dont like it, you can always come back home. After a couple years in Montana, I moved on to work as a reporter in Idaho, and then as the weekend anchor at the NBC affiliate in Spokane Washington. Then in 2003, I interviewed for a reporter opening at KMOV. I can remember staying at the hotel next door to the station and feeling very uncertain. Was this the right move for me? For my career? The morning of my interview, I prayed for God to give me some kind of sign so that I knew this was the right place for me. It wasnt until the end of the day when I met with the GM of KMOV at the time, Allan Cohen. Thats when I felt it. A serene calmness came over me. I knew this was where God wanted me. Allan has become my mentor and dear friend over the years. For two years I was a feature reporter on the morning show at KMOV then I moved to the morning anchor position. After I had my son, I was fortunate enough to become one of the hosts of Great Day St. Louis. Even though I do a lot more behind the scenes work like producing segments and writing the show, in addition to hosting and reporting, not having to get up at 1:15 a.m. is so worth it. I cant imagine starting my day that early with a 2 1/2 year old.
Q: So you have been here for quite a few years, and your life sounds like it has been heaven sent. Is this the reality of your life, or have you had any struggles like the rest of us?
A: Everyone has struggles...but it wasnt until the last few years that I was able to talk about mine. I battled depression and an eating disorder for several years. I thought I was just a very emotional teenager with really awful PMS. But looking back I realized Ive experienced depression on and off since about the 9th grade. It was when I moved to St. Louis that I actually did something about it. I knew no one when I got here and I was working the morning shift. My depression was intensifying to the point I binged every day when I got home from work. My addiction to food started in high school but it didnt get really bad until my mid 20s. The first binge that really scared me was when I was in Spokane. One night after a date dropped me off at home, I ate an entire box of pancake mix...it was all I had. I didnt care what I put in my mouth I just had the overwhelming urge to eat everything in my kitchen. I seriously thought my stomach was going to tear open. I can still remember lying on my couch and staring at it thinking stretch marks were going to hatch. I looked six months pregnant. Because I was so obsessed with my weight I would exercise every day for at least an hour. I weighed about 30 pounds more than I do now. I hated myself. I was so ashamed of my addiction, but I couldnt stop. One night in St Louis I actually passed out after a binge late at night. I drove to the grocery store and loaded up on ice cream, M&Ms and pop tarts. I ate all of it! I was living in a high rise apartment in the Central West End. Around midnight, I had to take my dog Lucy out for a walk. I was on Pine and Kingshighway when I passed out on the sidewalk. Lucy woke me up by licking my face. I guess it was from all the sugar. Didnt stop me though. I continued on this downward spiral for 6 more years before I got it under control. It took counseling and medication and a completely different outlook on life.
Q: Do you think that anything else at this time in your life helped you see the light?
A: My husband. I was still struggling with it when we met but being with him has helped me become the woman I am now. And my relationship with God. I grew up in a Christian home, but I never really knew what it was like to have a real relationship with God until this last year.
I recommitted my life to Christ. Thats what has really allowed me to see the world and myself differently. His amazing love. I know now that its not who I was that counts. Its who I am becoming. Thats why I am no longer ashamed to share my past and mistakes.
Q: You shared with me earlier in the interview that you have a beautiful son, and an amazing husband named Jason. Do you mind sharing how you two met and a little bit about your lives together?
A: We were set up on a blind date. A friend of mine wanted me to meet this guy from her hometown. I honestly thought he was too good for me. Too normal!
We went out a few times and then I told him I wasnt ready to date. He didnt pester me. He just kept me on an email list of friends and would send funny jokes in group emails every once and a while. I finally responded and we went on another date. He later told me he kept me on his email blast list, hoping that one day I would reply.
Jason is a man of very few words but he is real. Hes not out to impress anyone or prove anything. Hes just an honest, sincere person. I was so intrigued by that and I really hope hes rubbed off on me. We were married in June 2009. He is the best dad. In fact, I really didnt want children until I met him. I knew that with him I could handle it. Our son Riggs adores him. We are still trying to have another baby.
I had two miscarriages last year. But its okay if we dont have another child. Every day I feel so blessed. I practice every morning on my way into work counting all the gifts God has given me. I know He knows whats best for us. If thats another baby, then it will happen.
Q: Anything over the years that you wish would have been different with your career?
A: No. I truly believe that God puts the people in our lives we need to help us or help someone else. Everyone and every place in my past was for a reason. Part of Gods plan. I thought when I started out I would eventually be on a network show. But I now know that God has me right where he wants me. We are all here to make a difference. I want to be part of Gods plan. I want Him to use me to help others. Whether its telling someones story on Great Day or sharing my own scars and struggles...past and present.
Q: Besides all the fun you have being a mom, and hosting Great Day, what else is going on in your life right now?
A: I became a certified ZUMBA instructor this past year. I did it because I wanted to try teaching at my husbands gym. Havent done that yet but I did start a class at my church. Its a fun way to exercise. In fact I like to think of it as a dance party not a workout.
Q: As much as I would like to keep conversing, as it has been truly inspirational listening to your story, sadly, I have to wrap it up. Is there anything else that you would like to share with the readers of Lipstik before I go?
A: Only that I hope at least one person can read this and realize that no one has a perfect life. No one. Not even the perky girl on TV. But whatever we have been through does not define us. Life is full of joy, sometimes we just have to slow down long enough to see it. Gods has His hand out waiting for you to accept His gifts. Try it. Take one minute today and count the gifts in your life and tell me you dont feel better.