While Tamron Hall is the host of her successful, self-titled daytime talk show “Tamron Hall,” there was a hypothetical world in which she may have been part of the late-night TV landscape. But Hall told TheWrap she’s not convinced that idea would have gotten past network executives.
It’s something Hall thought about earlier on in her career, and one that was suggested to her prior to the launch of her now two-time Emmy-winning talk series.
“I have a former producer at MSNBC who always said, ‘You should be in late night, you should be in late night,’” Hall said. But she also mentioned that she didn’t think there would be as clear of a lane for her to pursue late night in comparison to other on-camera talents who come from a different background.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think I would have ever been able to convince executives for a couple of reasons. Being a news person, there’s this idea that you are serious, [and] you know, can’t shift and have a sense of humor.’ I hope I’ve proven that wrong with our show,” Hall explained.
On top of that, Hall shared that late night TV, historically, hasn’t created much space for Black people, women and even more specifically, Black women.
“I also think the consideration of a Black woman is sadly not high on the list. We’ve seen Amber [Ruffin], you see Robin [Thede], we’ve seen it done,” Hall said. “But, I sadly have to be honest with you and say I believe the industry still believes that, despite the success of many women, Joan Rivers, and others…Monique on BET, that it is a space, somehow, that’s meant for a male host. And currently that host, more times than not, is a white male.”
Hall isn’t wrong in her presumptions. White men overwhelmingly dominated late night TV for decades, save for rare exceptions like Arsenio Hall. Even late night icon Jay Leno called out the lack of diversity in the TV sector himself, when asked how late night has “changed” over the years.
“It’s just different white guys,” Leno told Meredith Vieira on her show “Meredith.”
The issue of executives failing to give people of color a fair shot at late night was even flagged by writers of color during TheWrap’s roundtable conversation “BIPOC Late-Night and Variety Writers Speak Out” back in August.
“I think a lot of it goes back to who the executives are and who are the people making these types of decisions,” John Thibodeaux, who served as a writer for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” said. “Because I think in the vacuum of their inability to understand the product, they lean on what they think is a proven…someone who brings their own audience, right?”
“I think it’s a general consensus,” Hall told TheWrap.
Trevor Noah’s exit as the host of “The Daily Show” in 2022 — a position passed to him by Jon Stewart after he left the show in August 2015 — marked the last time a person of color hosted a late-night series on television. At least until Arsenio Hall’s show — which was rebooted and then canceled after one season on Netflix. For now, viewers only have “The Amber Ruffin Show” on Peacock and Sam Jay’s “Pause With Sam Jay” on Max.
Ironically, Hall just so happened to discuss with Noah in 2022 how leadership at networks are responsible for the type of people who are hired and the type of content that is covered, particularly as it pertained to the difference in coverage for missing people of color in comparison to white people.
“When my book ‘As the Wicked Watch’ came out…at the time that book was released, the Gabby Petito story was dominating the headlines,” Hall said. “And as it turned out, the book that I’d written a year prior was just about the imbalance of coverage when there’s a person of color missing versus, in particular, a white female. I ended up on Trevor’s show, and he said, ‘Why does this keep happening?’ I said, ‘That’s something you have to ask the news executives,’ But much like this dialogue with late night, and the faces and gender that we see dominate that time slot, it’s the same.”
“You know, I think we all can get in the room and ask why, but are we truthfully answering the why? That’s something we talk about on our show. When Seth Meyers was a guest on [‘Tamron Hall”] I asked him about it, and he understands why people are asking. He also believes, and I believe, he earned his spot. He’s extremely talented, award-winning and brings it like no other. But I’m sure he has had that conversation with his team as well.”