Gracefully dealing with hardship is a quality for which Roberts has become famous. When she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2012, Roberts decided to fight—and inspired others to help out. The day that Roberts went public with her illness, the nonprofit organization Be the Match Registry experienced an 1,800 percent spike in bone marrow donors. In August, she left GMA to get a transplant and returned in February to an ever-adoring audience. “People identify with those who can recover from adversity,” says Elayne Rapping, a pop culture expert, an author, and a former professor of American Studies, from the University at Buffalo.
After being told she was voted the most trusted woman on TV, Roberts agreed to share with Reader’s Digest why the word trust is so meaningful to her.
Liz Vaccariello: Quite an honor! How does it feel?
Robin Roberts: Television can be so fleeting and to have been recognized in a publication like Reader’s Digest … it means everything, Liz. I wish my mom and dad were here to see this. It would mean so much to them because all they wanted was for us to grow up to be good people. They didn’t care that sister is a social worker and brother is a teacher and that two of us are on TV. All they wanted was for us to be trustworthy citizens. And there’s a responsibility that goes with that, and it’s not something I take lightly.
LV: We defined a trustworthy person as “somebody possessing integrity and character, exceptional talent and a drive for personal excellence, a strong internal moral compass, a consistent message, honesty, and leadership.” Of those qualities, which would you say resonates with you the most?
RR: Integrity and character, which are qualities that remind me of my mom and dad. When I would leave the house in high school, my mother would always say, “Robin, you know right from wrong.” And when I found myself in a situation—whether it was peer pressure or a decision that had to be made—I would hear my mother’s voice saying those words. Maybe it’s my father’s military background, but I think you can build off of character and integrity.
LV: In an interview with CBN, you said, “I love it when people say they see the light shining through me.” Where do you think this light comes from?
RR: I really feel it comes from my faith. Every day before I leave my apartment—after I say my prayer of protection—I ask God, “Please let your light shine through me.” And I am lucky to have the resources to shine it—be it love, unity, or resilience—onto others. I love my work, and there’s something about morning television—it’s very intimate, as you know. The viewers really feel like they have a relationship with you. I truly want people to have a great day. I’m a morning person. There is something about the quietness and the stillness of seeing the sunrise and the light coming up. I love it.