Tamala Edwards on Broadcasting From Her Living Room and Inspiring the Next Generation

Fifteen years after joining 6 ABC, the early-morning anchor talks about working amid a pandemic and protests.

tamala edwards

6 ABC anchor Tamala Edwards. Illustration by Andy Friedman

My full name is … Tamala Edwards Lugrine. My sons were just asking me why “Edwards” is in there. They said, “Get rid of that. That was before us! That was before Daddy!”

Before 6 ABC, I was … the World News Now overnight anchor at ABC in New York, and before that, a writer at Time.

I made the jump to local news in Philly because … everybody said that it was a great city, and David Muir told me 6 ABC was a powerhouse.

To stay sane during the coronavirus crisis … I’ve done three things every day: take a walk, take a hot shower, and meditate for three to five minutes. I do it in my closet. There’s something about that enclosed space.

If Cecily Tynan and I were to run a race today … I would just sit down and eat a cupcake, because I know how this is turning out.

In addition to coronavirus, the biggest stories I’ve covered have been … Every time I think I’ve covered the biggest story, a new one arrives. At this point, I think it’s the social change and unrest stemming from the death of George Floyd, right on the heels of the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Usually, social media shows two seemingly unconnected worlds: grief, anger and mourning on the accounts of African Americans; pastimes, puppies and rosé all day for our white friends. But this time, the whole world showed up to say we need to talk, and we need to figure out how to go forward. It’s going to be long, messy and painful at some points, but birth always is. I’m hopeful — exhausted, wounded, sad, but still hopeful. Along with that, there’s living through a pandemic — which right now shows no signs of leaving the scene anytime soon — and 9/11. And who knows, at the rate this is going, by the time you print this, there may well be something else!

To stay in shape … I worry. You’d be amazed how many calories that can burn.

The first album I bought was … Bryan Adams. He was also my first concert. Mid-’80s, I guess?

I met my husband … doing a story. Matt O’Donnell and I went to a bakery to take a chocolate class. The pastry chef’s name was Rocco. I was expecting someone older and European. Instead, it was this really handsome 33-year-old who had been the pastry chef at Le Bec-Fin. When you look back at the tape, you can see all the flirting going on.

My worst subject in high school was … math. My sister got the math genes.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few months … anchoring from my living room with kids jumping around upstairs. And arguing with my parents about what is “essential.” To me, toilet paper is essential. Not fried shrimp and golf.

Jim Gardner … does so much to infuse this place with professionalism and bring us to a higher standard. He demands excellence in every way.

The hardest thing about my job is … 1:45 a.m., the time I wake up. I’m usually in bed by 7 p.m.

My secret junk food obsessions are … caramels and jelly beans, but not the new Jelly Belly things. The old-school Brach’s.

One game you will not beat me at is … Who can read this book the fastest? I read constantly. I have a sweet spot for horror. I’m reading If it Bleeds by Stephen King. The man is a master, not just of things that go bump in the night, but of the vivisection of people and the scary, silly, small and virtuoso parts we hide inside.

If a young girl tells me she wants to be on TV like me one day, I tell her … I can’t wait to see you. We need you.

One movie I can watch over and over again is … anything Lord of the Rings. My happy place.

If I had a theme song for myself, it would be … “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Because you’ve gotta wake up in the morning and believe you are ready to land your best punch.

Published as “One of Us: Tamala Edwards” in the June/July 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.