While many women over the age of 35 tread lightly over their methods for “aging gracefully,” Meredith Vieira, a woman who has spent more than two decades in front of the camera, admits her fountain-of-youth secret is simple.
“I don’t have one,” says the Today co-anchor, 54. “I have good people.”
They do not include, she also makes clear, plastic surgeons.
“I’m beyond it now,” she says. “When [NBC president] Jeff Zucker hired me for the Today show, some people said, ‘Jeez, Jeff, couldn’t you find someone in their 20s or 30s?’ I said it [too], when he offered me the job, ‘You know Jeff, you’re skewing a little old here.’ ”
Zucker’s response, she recalls, was, “I don’t care. I want someone with experience. I’m not looking for a number, I’m looking for a human being.”
“I give him a lot of credit [for] that,” says Vieira.
Speaking to PEOPLE at a photo shoot for this year’s Toys “R” Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, Vieira, who will serve as the guide’s cover girl, has a nephew with mild cerebral palsy and a husband, Richard Cohen, who has multiple sclerosis.
“I think through [them], you can’t help but develop knowledge, sensitivity,” she says of her awareness of others with disabilities. “I’m far more sensitive to that because of [them].”
Active Home Life
These days, when she’s not delivering the news or fielding playful barbs from co-hosts Al Roker and Matt Lauer, Vieira is mom to her three kids, who don’t care about her celebrity – or society’s obsession with it.
“I think they like what I do, they respect it, my husband is a producer, but at the end of the day, that’s our job and that’s not what they’re particularly interested in,” she says.
“My oldest son, Ben, isn’t really into pop culture. He’s very political, he’s at college now. He wants to change the world,” says Vieira.
As for the others: “My middle guy, Gabriel, he’s just kind of a good soul. He loves his sports and talks about one day being married and having kids, he’s a homebody. Lily is a theater kid. She definitely wants to be on Broadway or act in some way, or be a speech pathologist.”