This is the week that everyone stood up and took notice of Gayle King. Not for being Oprah’s best friend. Or even for being the co-host of CBS This Morning who survived years in the anchor chair next to Charlie Rose—a feat that became infinitely more impressive once we learned of his #MeToo mess.
No, this time, King earned brand new social media stripes for something she did on her own: being absolutely unflappable and unfazed in the face of Performative Male Rage™ during her interview with R. Kelly. (Other examples of the genre: Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump, and cheating boyfriends everywhere, when they get caught.)
For all of us who underestimated King as Oprah’s perennial plus-one—and are still reeling from the documentary Surviving R. Kelly and subsequent charges of criminal sexual abuse filed against the R&B star—it was a stunning cultural moment.
But how did we sleep on King for so long? Being anointed by Oprah and rising to become CBS’ MVP in the news division should have been hints of the steeliness underneath her sunny TV persona.
And the fact is, you don’t achieve that level of strength, composure, and rolling-your-eyes calm spontaneously—you have to put in a lot of training to get there. So, what’s King been doing all these years to reach her current black-belt level of badass-ery? Let’s investigate.
She works out—a lot
As in, an hour a day, six days a week, according to Oprah.com. King, 64, does a combo of strength training and cardio, and is refreshingly honest about not loving it all the time, but sticking with it anyway—as well as making room in her life for the finer (tasting) things. “I deny myself nothing,” she says. “Some people don’t eat pasta or bread or sweets ever. I love those foods too much. So for the most part, I eat healthy, but if I go to a party or on vacation, I’m going to enjoy it; then I work extra hard to get back to where I was.” If it’s true that how we show up at the gym is how we show up in life, King has been on her A-game for a while.
She makes time for baths (at 4 a.m.)
Here’s a tiny detail that should have made us all sit up and notice: King takes a bath each morning before going to her gig at CBS This Morning, she told The Cut last year. A bath. As in, just after she wakes up about 3:25 a.m. “Usually, I wake up, get out of bed, get in the tub, and then the car comes and picks me up at 4:30,” she says. Can you imagine that level of discipline? And self-care? If my arm wasn’t so sore from hitting the snooze button this morning, Ms. King, I’d salute you.
She’s got game
The stone-faced composure she showed during her R. Kelly interview is only a little bit more iconic than the time she got her flirt on…with Lenny Kravitz. It happened in December on Watch What Happens Live, and Twitter definitely took notice. King is clearly a believer in healthy sexual expression; after all, what’s better than that, really, for mental and physical wellness all in one? Watch and learn— this is how it’s done, grown-lady style.
Careerwise…cue the Destiny’s Child
Yep, she’s a survivor. After decades in TV, she ascended to morning-anchor stardom at CBS, only to have the powerful men around her (including co-host Rose, 60 Minutes executive producer, and CBS President Les Moonves) felled by #MeToo allegations—leaving King and her other co-host Norah O’Donnell to grapple with the fallout each morning, speaking to their millions of viewers live. King’s composure during this period should have clued us in to her difficult-dude skills—since she handled the fallout of Rose’s fall from grace flawlessly (and on-air). And now she’s reportedly asking for “George Stephanopolous money” in her next contract—up from a reported $5.5 million a year to between $15 million and $18 million annually. Attention: Ladies Get Paid, you just got a new poster girl.
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