Milwaukee Talks: "Morning Blend" host Tiffany Ogle
The positive and caffeinated person you see weekday mornings on "The Morning Blend" is not an act for Tiffany Ogle. Always an optimist, there's no alter ego at all, says the Minnesota native with the most diverse resumé you'll ever see.
Yes, many know the 34-year-old Ogle for her time as a Miss America contestant, but she's a legit artist, singer, TV pitch woman and philanthropist – in addition to her daily duties on "The Blend." And lots has changed in her life since we first spoke to her in 2009, a week after she arrived in Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee.com: Last time we talked to you, you were a brand new Milwaukeean. Now, you've been here long enough to figure this place out.
Tiffany Ogle: I joined NEWaukee, too.
OMC: I've got to get this out of the way. You have the most unusual resume I've ever seen. It's very diverse. I think one of your references says that you "puke diamonds."
TO: Yeah, that was one of my directors from MTV. I did "Made" on MTV, which is a show where they travel around the country, and they interview high schoolers who want to be made into something. The girl that I made over, she was really big into anime. I had to make her into a beauty queen.
OMC: Did it work?
TO: She won. She was one of the only teens that won.
OMC: And you puked diamonds?
OMC: What does that mean?
TO: Well, it was a reality show, so it's all unscripted. It's all off the cuff, and it was maybe six weeks, I think, when we filmed, and so it was all candids. Stacy was the director. She'd pull me aside during something and say, "Let's talk about what's happening," and then she just said I was beautiful. "You puke diamonds."
OMC: Obviously, people have talked a lot about your Miss Minnesota crown. Everyone knows about that. But there's a lot more. You hosted a golf show?
TO: I hosted a golf show for five years in Minnesota on the NBC station. It was just for three months (a year). It was the most watched golf show in the history there. It was great. We didn't feature golfers. We featured stories about Minnesota golf.
OMC: Are you a golfer?
TO: I had a little bit of a background in golf, but I'm not an expert.
OMC: Then you had a home shopping show?
TO: Shop NBC, which is now ShopHQ. I had a couple lines on there. I had a gold jewelry line. It was a line out of Italy that I represented, which was great because they sent me to Italy to learn how it was made and learn the culture and the stories behind it, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have a new jewelry line that I'm starting out there in May or June.
OMC: That's still happening?
TO: Yeah, and that will be an Israeli line, so women from Israel who created this really beautiful silver line of jewelry.
OMC: And you can still do that even with "The Morning Blend" going on?
TO: As a guest on shopping, it's a pretty low commitment. I'll probably go out there, for this line, like once a month.
OMC: You're a motivational speaker, too. What's that all about?
TO: For the Miss America program, that's when a lot of it started because you speak about something you're passionate about, a platform, and mine was children's safety, so I spent eight, nine years speaking for children's safety issues. April was Children's Safety Awareness Month.
I spoke for the Jacob Wetterling Foundation there for years, and then kind of connected with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for a couple of years, and just talked to student groups, schools, parents, community organizations. That kind of spawned through the Miss America program. They basically asked, "Can you come out and talk about achieving your goals?"
So then they just started asking to speak about other things, and I did improv professionally for eight years.
OMC: Like comedy improv?
TO: Yes, I started that in college, and so one of the speeches that I did was "Life Is Improv'able." It was talking about how to use improv. I did another one on networking, and it's basically how people in the acting industry get branding and marketing right.
OMC: Oh, and you're a painter?
TO: I paint, as well, and I draw. I have a broad spectrum of talents. None of them are very in depth. I didn't know that I could paint the recent way that I painted. I painted Miller Park for UPAF, for a charity event at TMJ4, which I helped run at work, and so I painted a picture of Miller Park. We sold it there, but I didn't know that I could do that until I tried it.
OMC: You just grabbed like a paint brush, and were like, "Oh, look at that?"
TO: I found a picture of something that I really loved. I knew I could draw, so then I decided, well, why don't I try painting it, so I tried painting it, and it worked. I think it's kind of one of those like that's a great message for people. Sometimes you don't know that you have a skill until you try something outside of your box and think, "Well, I have this little piece of a skill. Maybe if I try something new," and you kind of surprise yourself.
OMC: Not being an expert on the world of pageantry, is this typical of beauty pageant contestants? Are you all renaissance women like this?
TO: I'd like to say yes.
OMC: Is that how you get to be in pageants?
TO: I mean, everybody's so different. The way that you get to be it is you have to have a talent. Mine was not painting. I sing, so mine was singing.
OMC: Of course you do.
TO: Yep, and this is the Miss America organization specifically. They give around $45 million every year for women in scholarships, so you have to have really high grades. You have to be very involved in the community, and then you have to have something that you're passionate about, and that's your platform.
OMC: Because it's more than just beauty.
TO: Right. There's a swimsuit competition, and there's still an element of a beauty pageant.
OMC: Do you think the viewers of "Morning Blend" know this stuff about? How much of this do you let in?
TO: I think we're pretty transparent, to be honest. Molly (Fay) and I have moments where we kind of let those things come out, but the way the show is formatted, we don't talk about ourselves all that much.
OMC: You're talking about other people …
TO: Yeah, we talk about other people, and that's your job as a host is to make other people look good and highlight what they do, so we don't spend as much time talking about those little things, but we give glimpses.
OMC: Speaking of transparency, I think it's understood that some people pay to be on "The Morning Blend," and some people don't.
OMC: I mean, I don't. I but ...
TO: Because you are so cool like that.
OMC: Yeah, sure. But do you consider yourself a journalist/host or sometimes a journalist, sometimes a host, or all-the-time host?
TO: I would say Molly considers herself a journalist/host. I consider myself an entertainer and host because we come from different backgrounds. I come from acting. She comes from investigative reporting, so that's where I would say that, but in terms of the show, yeah, there's businesses and things like that. They showcase their product, so a lot of them pay to be on the show. There's no hiding that fact.
OMC: But the show never calls itself a news product anyway, right?
OMC: They're in a separate department at Channel 4?
TO: Yeah, we're kind of on the advertising side, but, I mean, we try and advertise for celebrities, non-profits, chefs, all the people who don't pay to be on, as well, and community features.
OMC: Is it tricky to talk in an excited way about certain guests – and I'm not singling out anyone – but, say, a gutter guy?
TO: Have you seen Nutsy the Squirrel?
OMC: I have not.
TO: If you did, you would realize how exciting gutters can be.
OMC: How do you show an equal amount of enthusiasm for great topics and less great topics?
TO: I think that part of the job is to be curious, and I would say, even if it's something that's less exciting, you have to be curious about why they care about it. It kind of goes back to the point where I said, as a host, your job is to make someone else look good. Everybody loves what they do.
I think that's the bottom line at the end of the day. People do what they do because there's some element that excites them, whether it's just bringing home the right kind of paycheck or it's because they love the product they sell or they love the people they work with or they like the people they get to meet, and so you have to be curious about why they care about it. That's what gets me excited, is finding kind of the stories behind what people do.
OMC: How much of an alter ego are you on TV versus yourself?
TO: I should probably take on more of an alter ego. Maybe it would go well for me, but I'd say 3 percent, honestly, because there are days when you come on and you're not in a good mood.
OMC: What do you do then?
TO: You're tired or whatnot, and you have to put on that "good morning" face. Everybody does this on a day-to-day basis. You have a meeting or you go hang out with friends and you didn't really feel like it, and once you get there, all of a sudden, it's infectious and you take it on and you become it.
OMC: But that's really you?
TO: Yeah, that's really me. So when I get there, I might not be in the best mood that morning or maybe I'm tired, but the moment we start, Molly and I start chatting or something funny happens or someone interesting says something, it just kind of sparks the moment, anyway.
OMC: Five years into this, are you having fun with it?
TO: I love it. Every day is different, which is what excites me. Sometimes, I wish we had more time.
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