On Tuesday, Jenna Bush Hager was announced as the new Today show co-host for the morning program's 10 a.m. hour

By Charlotte Triggs and Natalie Stone
February 26, 2019 11:00 AM
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Jenna Bush Hager is quick to admit that her life isn’t picture-perfect — and she’s grateful to her parents for teaching her that valuable life lesson.

“I feel like I’m really blessed to have awesome people in my life and I feel really grateful for all of that,” Bush Hager, 37, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “But, at the same time, I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t really have it all together.”

“I think that one of the best thing that our parents did ever did for us is to make us feel like we have to be perfect,” she shares about her parents, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.

Since birth, Bush Hager has been accustomed to life in the spotlight. Her grandfather, George H.W. Bush, served as president from 1989-93, and her father was sworn into the Oval Office from 2001-09.

Jenna Bush Hager, Hoda Kotb Savannah Guthrie and Keith Urban
| Credit: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

“I realize the reason I probably do act like, ‘whatever, here’s me,’ is because when you’re on the cover of magazines — like PEOPLE — at 19 having a margarita, that’s what happens. … You’ve got to accept your faults,” she says. (In 2001, she made headlines by being arrested after being caught drinking underage; she was charged with a misdemeanor and pleaded no contest.)

In the time since her family moved out of the White House one decade ago, the twin sister of Barbara Bush has gotten married to husband Henry Hager, welcomed two daughters (Margaret, 5, and Poppy, 3), and has established herself as a household name through her journalistic and commentator work on TV, most notably the Today show. (In the summer of 2009, Hager was 27 and teaching in Maryland when the Today show offered her a job as a correspondent.)

Credit: Fabio Chizzola

Now, after 10 years at the network, Bush Hager is expanding her role at NBC and adding another official title to her resume: co-host of the Today show’s fourth hour!

On Tuesday, audiences learned that she will be the new anchor of the show’s 10 a.m. hour — and she’s looking forward to spending even more time with Hoda Kotb.

Hoda Kotb (left) and Jenna Bush Hager
| Credit: Today Show

“There’s days where things are all over the place, and Hoda knows that side of me,” Bush Hager says. “And both of our purses are disasters, and I think it’s like the brace of learning. It doesn’t have to be all together. My hair could be a mess, and who really cares. I think that’s what has made me feel happiest: that perfection is boring and luckily for me I’m not anymore.”

Jenna Bush Hager
| Credit: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Colleague and fellow mom Kotb couldn’t be more elated for Bush Hager to permanently join the morning show team.

“Jenna’s the kind of person who says ‘I did it and I’m here,’ and she laughs at herself. I think that is all that stuff in a big bowl of soup that makes Jenna work. And, I am beyond thrilled, like beyond thrilled,” Kotb tells PEOPLE.

She adds, “She knows she’s going to bring her own style. She’s going to bring her own magic fairy dust, because that’s what she does.”

Today airs from 7-11 a.m. on NBC.