CNN's Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell Say They Had an 'Instant Bond' When They Became Co-Hosts
The pair began hosting their new show CNN Newsroom with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell in April after Brooke Baldwin's exit
Camerota, 55, has anchored CNN's morning program, New Day, for the last six years — the longest tenure of any weekday morning show anchor in recent CNN history — while Blackwell, 40, has anchored CNN's Weekend New Day for the last nine years.
Below, Camerota and Blackwell open up to PEOPLE about co-hosting together, as well as their plans to bond over Blackwell's 300-plus bottles of collector's liquor and how their different life experiences make them a great team.
How well did you know each other ahead of leading the show together?
Blackwell: Not well at all, actually. I filled in on New Day weekdays a few years ago and then Alisyn and I were on the scene of a big breaking news story, but this is brand new. We went straight from first date to marriage.
Camerota: That's true. We did not know each other. I remember when Victor filled in, I thought he was funny, but then it was a few more years before we were together again. Victor is hilarious off-camera and that has been a joy to rediscover.
Any fun plans to spend time with each other outside of work?
Camerota: We have the perfect hours now for after-work revelry. So as two people who used to get up at 3 a.m. in the morning — now we are well-rested and we can go out for summertime cocktails. Also, what Victor doesn't know is that I plan to immediately insinuate myself into whatever party he has because Victor has this killer bar collection. He has 300 bottles of collector's liquor.
Blackwell: I think getting together outside of work, that will happen far more often. My collection is for drinking; Alisyn and Tim are always welcome. My favorite is Bombay Amber, which I don't think is in production anymore.
What qualities do you have in common?
Blackwell: Coming from New Day, we both can appreciate not having to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night anymore. The sun wakes me up. That is a fantastic privilege in this new role. When I used to wake up for the weekend show, I'd prep at 11:30 p.m. the night before, but now I can wake up at 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m.
Camerota: There are very few people you meet in life who have had the exact same work experience of getting up in the middle of the night and going to work. That's a weird routine, so when you meet somebody else who's had that experience and then is liberated from that experience, it is an instant bond.
Blackwell: It is a liberation! Another thing we have in common, the way we prepare for the show, is we do a lot of the writing of questions ourselves and a lot of the editing on set where we make sure that what we're saying is as authentic as we can make it so that people are hearing from us. We are not afraid to lean in on stories, to lean in and bring our life experience to the questions, to the conversations. It's reassuring to know that I have a partner who has that same priority.
Camerota: One of the things that I was really looking forward to with Victor, and it has come to pass — Victor is not afraid to have tough conversations, I'm not afraid to have tough conversations and this era requires tough conversations. There's a lot happening with race, gender, cancel culture, democracy, etc. that requires uncomfortable conversations and I feel totally comfortable throwing anything at Victor and know he'll share his perspective and be open to talking about it.
And how are you totally opposite?
Camerota: Between the two of us, we do hit a lot of different demographics and you don't always find that in an anchor team. I'm originally a suburban girl from New Jersey, but I've lived in many places on both sides of the country, which has informed a lot of my world view. I'm a married mother of three. So I have a different life experience than Victor. I'm not sure that I've ever had a co-anchor as culturally different than me. That's important, particularly in this moment. Victor has a different perspective that he brings to the table. I look forward to those conversations and learning more from him. In this era, it's a great thing to be able to bring different perspectives to the viewers.
Blackwell: I was reared in Baltimore and am a single, Black, gay and urban man. I think Alisyn and I are an excellent pairing because we bring relatability to a large swath of our viewership. I think when teams are created, there should be some representation that the viewer can relate to so that no one is forgotten. These conversations that at some level can seem a little detached from when we're talking about trillions of dollars in negotiations the White House. What does that mean to people who are trying to get their kids to school in Baltimore City? What does that mean for the bus systems? What does that mean for the schools that don't have heat or air conditioning? To bring those life experiences, those differences to the conversation, I think we're at our best when we can do that.
How do you guys wind down after a long day of hard news?
Blackwell: I'm still figuring that out being new to New York. I do journal in the morning. I write in the morning. I jot down my priorities for the day, my motivation for myself for the day, but it's not something I do at the end of the day.
Camerota: I like to write to decompress — that's very satisfying to me. I'm always working on some kind of writing, whether it's the memoir I'm putting the finishing touches on or an article. That's how I process issues. I like writing them out. It's calming for me when things slow down in that way. I like doing that on my commute home and then when I get home, having a family meal is very relaxing to me.
CNN Newsroom with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell airs weekdays (2-4 p.m. ET) on CNN.
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