There’s a phone in Kristin Smith’s hand. She’s carrying her 19-month-old son, Kingston, in the other arm. And somehow, she’s also walking her terrier/Chihuahua mix named Irie.
Minutes later, the boy starts crying.
“Hang on,” Smith says.
In a matter of seconds, the wails subside.
How did Smith stop the flood?
“Bribery,” she says, laughing.
Smith ’05 (Communication Studies) is an expert at handling this kind of stuff. For nearly two decades, the Washington native has been on the move.
Smith is the “Mommy/Lifestyle” expert for the Hallmark Channel’s morning show Home & Family.
“It’s such an honor to be invited into people’s everyday lives,” Smith said. “When people recognize me, I’m super humbled. You’re letting me be part of your life.”
For the past 10 years, Smith has worked as a morning show personality/anchor in locations from Yuma, Ariz., to Miami and Phoenix (where she was a local celebrity) to her current post with the Hallmark Channel.
At a young age, Smith had three life plans — become a professional basketball player, a supermodel or a news anchor.
Smith, whose maiden name is Anderson, played two seasons for the Matador Women’s Basketball team — 2002-04. Constant knee irritation after a meniscus injury ended her hope of joining her 6-foot-6-inch sister Chantelle Anderson in the WNBA.
Instead, she jumped to the next pursuit and hasn’t stopped moving since.
Change of Plans
Smith came to California State University, Northridge by way of Point Loma Nazarene University and Central Arizona College. All three stops were motivated by basketball.
At Central Arizona, Smith suffered the knee injury that she lives with to this day.
During her time at CSUN, she realized that she wasn’t meant to follow her sister into the WNBA. She knew that she would have to network and make connections to turn her goal of becoming a news anchor into a reality. Smith reached out and landed an internship with Fox 11, working on the popular morning show Good Day LA.
“I was very hungry at CSUN,” Smith said. “I just knew it was my calling to do this as a career. [My favorite classes at CSUN were] doing anything with talking. I just wanted it really, really bad. I’ve always been a very proactive person.”
Smith knew that TV was the right path for her when she found herself having to quickly step up to the plate. It’s a vivid memory that she shares with laughs and some residual discomfort.
“A producer named Bill said I could come with him on a press junket,” Smith said. “He was going to do all the interviews. I would wait in the back and just observe. We get there, and it’s this fancy hotel and I [thought], ‘Oh my gosh. Stars in my eyes. This is going to be my life one day. I’m going to interview celebrities.’
“Then Bill got a call from his family — he had a family emergency. He said, ‘Kristin, you have to pretend to be a reporter, and you have to do all these interviews for me.’ I had never done an interview in my life, and I was about to interview Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Djimon Hounsou. The movie was Beauty Shop. Andie McDowell, Mira Sorvino. He said, ‘Don’t tell anyone you’re an intern. Just go in there and pretend you know what you’re doing.’”
As it turns out, she made the switch from intern to interviewer very deftly.
“I always have this rule that you say yes and figure everything out later, and so I said, ‘Yes. OK. I got it,’” she said. “And he left and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What am I doing?’ And I did it. It was an amazing experience. I just knew after that, it was what I was meant to do. It was like, ‘I fooled them. They really think I’m a reporter.’”
After graduating from CSUN in 2005, Smith landed a sports anchor job at Yuma’s NBC affiliate, KYMA. The director liked her personality and shifted her to anchor the station’s morning show, Sunrise.
Two years later, Smith catapulted to Miami, where she spent two years as morning show anchor for the Tribune Company’s The Morning Show, which ran on the UPN affiliate.
In 2010, Smith returned to the West as morning news anchor for Phoenix’s Fox 10 AZAM show. She was there for five years. With that sort of exposure, she became a popular presence on TV and in public. She’d go out to dinner and people would want to meet her or talk to her.
“It was so weird,” she said, laughing. “I was a local celebrity.”
While in Phoenix, she experienced two milestones that changed her course. In 2013, she married Josiah Smith, and in 2014, she gave birth to her first child. Motherhood moved Smith to make the decision to leave Phoenix. She landed a job with the Hallmark Channel and moved to Southern California, where she would be closer to her parents.
During her last week at Fox 10 AZAM, the show aired a segment to announce her departure. Her co-host, Andrea Robinson, cried during the segment.
“Because I don’t want her to leave,” Robinson said, wiping tears away.
Back in LA
“I became a mom, and it changed everything,” Smith said. “I’d been working so hard, and there were so many hours and getting up at all hours. My wakeup clock was 2 a.m. every day in Phoenix. After becoming a mom, I realized I wanted more time with my kid. I needed to make some moves. I realized I needed more flexibility.”
A YouTube video Smith made about being a mom grabbed the attention of successful TV producer Woody Fraser, a connection Smith had made while interning for Good Day LA.
Fraser liked the video, Smith said, and hired her this year for Home & Family. She appears on the weekday show once or twice a week, giving tips on topics such as traveling with children or being a healthy mommy in body and mind. On days when she’s not on the set, she’s writing and developing ideas for the show. She’s also promoting herself through social media channels and will launch a new website in 2016.
“[Social media] is so important. That’s where the business is going,” she said.
So what’s next? Well, there’s a new life plan.
“I really love the freedom and working intermittently, but the goal is to have my own lifestyle show,” she said. “I think that’s next. I pray for it a lot. Faith is a big part of my life. I’m trusting God, and we’ll see.”