Hoda reveals how her broadcasting career began, and it’s all thanks to one man who gave her chance

All it takes to believe in yourself, and everything else will follow.

That’s what Hoda Kotb, 57, imparted to the audience in a recent episode of “TODAY with Hoda & Jenna,” which she hosts with former first daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, 39.

Presenters shared stories of how they got their big breaks in broadcasting, inspired by Sophia Cheong’s viral LinkedIn post. Sophia said that she faced 357 rejections and 40 interviews until she finally landed her dream job.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

Hoda thought back to her job-hunting experience following graduation. She remembers hunting for her very first job and thinking she’s going to get one right away. It was actually the exact opposite.

“I remember the first time I got rejected to my face, I was so surprised because I had a tape and I went to college, and here’s my stuff. He’s like, ‘Well, you’re too green.’” she recalled.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

And it didn’t end there—Hoda continued to face rejection after rejection while attempting to jumpstart her journalism career.

“There is a point when you get so many that your whole self-esteem just goes down the toilet,” Hoda said. “You start thinking, I made a mistake. Because all these people can’t be wrong.”

Then, she met one person who decided to give her a shot—a producer named Stan Sandroni from Greenville, Mississippi. The man hired her even though no one else wanted.

“This guy believed, and that’s so shocking because it was like, you just need the one,” she said.

Jenna felt compelled to share her own experience at that moment.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

“Do you know who my one would be?” she said to Hoda. “You.”

Jenna continued telling her story and the pair became emotional.

“I know that sounds cheesy, and I almost didn’t say it,” she admitted. “But I was here for years, doing a lot of different things, and I worked really hard and I had producers say, ‘Well, you’re a correspondent. That’s where you are.’ And that was good. That was what I wanted. I wanted to tell stories.”

“You asked me to fill in with you,” Jenna said as Hoda brought out some tissues for them both. “And I’ll never forget it, so my one is you.”

Jenna became Hoda’s full-time co-host in 2019 when Kathie Lee Gifford left the morning show after hosting it with Hoda 11 years prior. After making her debut, Hoda praised her new co-host and told ET that working with her was “a blast.”

Hoda described Jenna as a “real hard worker” and “kind person” who puts “her heart on the table.”

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager

“I dig it, man. I dig her vibe, I dig that she’s honest and open,” Hoda said of Jenna. “When she messes up, she messed up and she doesn’t care. When she’s on fire, she’s on fire and she’s happy, so I’m cheering her on!”

The show’s Instagram page shared a clip of the women’s heartwarming conversation.

“This is so sweet! It’s so important for people in the workplace – women especially – to advocate for each other, open doors for each other, and be willing to work together,” commented one fan.

“It was a match made for television. You two are so happy to have found each other. You make our mornings a better place to wake up to,” said another.

In April 2020, the co-hosts celebrated the first anniversary of TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, also known as the fourth hour of TODAY. They had to celebrate the event separately because of the coronavirus.

The video below captures the moment.

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