Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts is gearing up for season 2 of her podcast Everybody's Got Something, which launches today. As someone who has gone through the most trying of challenges — first breast cancer and multiple chemotherapy treatments, then bone marrow disease that resulted in a transplant — the Emmy winner is particularly well-suited to host a podcast featuring people opening up about their struggles.
In season 1, Roberts interviewed India Arie about losing her self-confidence, spoke with Magic and Cookie Johnson about how they dealt with his HIV diagnosis, and discovered how much she had in common with comedian Tig Notaro, who also battled breast cancer.
In the new season, we'll hear from Gabourey Sidibe, Lea Michele, and Patti LaBelle, among others, with a new episode released every Wednesday.
Ahead, Roberts gives Refinery29 an exclusive preview of the podcast and discusses how she has dealt with hardships in her life.
Why did you choose the podcast format, rather than writing or TV, to explore the topic of resilience?
"You can really get in-depth — get people out of the studio, not under the bright lights...just one-on-one, being able to connect... There's an intimacy to it. It's just sharing stories and trying to uplift people and give them hope."
What were some of your favorite moments from the first season of Everybody's Got Something?
"Tig Notaro was definitely a highlight. I loved her humor. We both grew up in the same town in Mississippi, we've both been through cancer, and we've both lost our moms. I love how she was able to share her message with that dry sense of humor."
What would you say to young women who are still trying to find their passion? Who don't yet know what their "something" is?
"Well, that is their something. 'Something' doesn't mean you've had tragedy, necessarily — everyone's got something important to them that they want to achieve, or that they have overcome... They need to embrace the fact that they don't have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out. I still don't. It's okay.
"You know, Gabourey Sidibe from Precious, I love that she admitted on the podcast that she was as afraid of succeeding as she was of failing. When Precious hadn't come out yet, she knew, in a year or so, that she was going to have a movie, but she was still working as a phone-sex operator. She was walking the red carpet with Mariah Carey at the premiere wearing an H&M dress."
[Young women] need to embrace the fact that they don't have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out. I still don't. It's okay.
What do you think you can you learn from a personal story that you can't learn from a self-help book?
"Well, I started in radio and I'm a big self-help reader. But there's just something about hearing someone's voice; that's why I love the podcast format. When I hear someone's voice and their words and what they have gone through...it seems more real. It's also, just knowing you're not alone."
Especially given everything you've gone through, how do you find calm in your career and your personal life?
"My mom once said, 'Honey, you can have it all, but not at the same time.' She put a lot of her dreams and aspirations on hold for [me and my three siblings]. We're all a little bit stronger than we think we are, especially as women.
"I didn't know that I could face a deadly disease, not once but twice, and do it on a public stage. But I did. If someone had told me earlier I'd be going through this, I'd say, 'You're nuts, I'm going to crumble.'"
What are the three main things young women should keep in mind when facing life challenges?
"Put your hand up. Ask for help. There are lots of groups, and in this day and age there are lots of apps for finding all types of help. I'm so grateful for the close-knit family and circle of friends that I have, to not be afraid to ask for help and not try to do it all myself.
"When fear knocks on the door, have faith... I have this sign in my dressing room that says, 'This, too, shall pass. Now would be good.' [laughs]
"Finally, you regret things you don't do more than things you do."
It's intern season. Do you have any advice for getting your foot in the door?
"When I was trying to make it, I did everything and anything. I would send my tapes out — video tapes — and ask for them to be critiqued by people I saw on TV. I never asked for a job, because everyone asks for a job — I asked for their advice. 'Could you send me the pros and cons of what I'm doing?'
"Back then, I was kind of a hot mess. Now, I say... I'm a hot mess, and still blessed."
It's hard to believe you were ever a hot mess. Do you have any crazy stories?
"I know you'd love to know..."