Giselle Fernandez is savvy,
witty and simply ravishing, with a
10,000-megawatt smile that has Hollywood written all over
it. As co-host of NBC's "Access Hollywood," she's the
source for all the news surrounding the biggest stars, from
the upcoming blockbuster movies to the latest romances
One day she's interviewing George Clooney about donning the
Batman costume again, another she's covering the Oscars --
in a floor-length evening gown, no less -- and later she's
swashbuckling across the television screen with Antonio
Banderas for a story about his new movie, "The Mask of
Zorro." It's all in a day's work for the 37-year-old
Fernandez, a self-professed health nut who manages to squeeze
a 30 to 45-minute cardiovascular workout and a brisk run
into her schedule four times a week.
"People can look beautiful, look thin and not be healthy at
all. For me, it's not all aesthetic anymore," Fernandez
said. "There is a trend, believe it or not, in the 'plastic
surgery, image-is-everything' Hollywood toward inner
fitness. You hear a lot about these mind-body-soul workouts
-- Madonna going toward power yoga and meditation, and a
lot of the Middle Eastern body-calming practices are coming
to the front and center of Hollywood."
Fernandez's healthy appearance and inner beauty have kept
her on the fast track in the television news industry since
her humble beginning out of college. After graduation from
Sacramento State University, she mailed 100 demo tapes to
stations all over the country and received 99 rejections.
The only station interested in the "diamond in the rough"
was KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she
started her career as a camera operator/reporter/producer
for the station's bureau in nearby Pueblo. It didn't take
other stations long, however, to notice the Latin-born
Fernandez's work and talent.
Like many in television news, Fernandez worked at large-
market stations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami before
receiving her big break with one of the major networks. In
October 1991, CBS hired her to contribute stories for
programs such as "48 Hours," "Face the Nation" and "CBS
Sunday Morning." She kept working her way up the network
ladder and eventually served as substitute anchor for Dan
Rather on "CBS Evening News."
After four years with CBS, Fernandez jumped to rival NBC as
substitute anchor for Tom Brokaw on "NBC Nightly News." She
also substituted for hosts on "The Today Show" and was co-
host for the popular morning program's weekend edition.
During her career in hard news, she received five Emmy
awards, including one for her live coverage of a Scud
missile attack during the Persian Gulf War. Fernandez
covered the Haiti and Panama invasions, the Somalian and
Bosnian wars, the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City
bombings and the Cuban immigration crisis. She was the
first reporter in 20 years to interview Cuban dictator
Fidel Castro in English.
Fernandez was one of the top up-and-coming personalities in
the network news industry. But her career path took an
unexpected turn when she accepted her current job with
"Access Hollywood," a half-hour, entertainment news program
that runs on NBC stations throughout the country. Fernandez,
a stranger to Hollywood, was hired to anchor the
syndicated show in its first season. After struggling
initially, the show's popularity has continued to increase,
and it has been renewed for a third season.
"I once asked Lyle Lovett, one of my favorite singers,
'Lyle, you're really hard to pin down. Are you country, are
you jazz, are you blues, are you rock?" He said to me,
'Giselle, why do you have a need to qualify me? Why do
people have a need to put me in any one category? Can't I
be all of it?' I almost kicked myself because I can so
relate," Fernandez said. "We're so intent in our society to
box people in -- 'oh, you're just an entertainment
reporter' or 'you're just a news reporter.' We all have
many facets, hobbies and interests, and they all can become
part of our professional life, if we're open enough and
daring enough to pursue and try them."
Taking Lovett's advice, Fernandez started "Cafe Ole with
Giselle Fernandez," an intimate one-on-one talk show
featuring celebrity guests from the worlds of music, film
and television, in addition to her co-host duties with
"Access Hollywood." It's the first show in English aired on
the Spanish cable network, Galavision Si TV. She also makes
appearances as a television reporter on the NBC soap opera
"Sunset Beach," and she played a reporter in the Hollywood
movie "Wag the Dog." "Life is a series of a billion doors.
If you're lucky and you're daring enough to see what you've
got, you'll open each and every one," Fernandez said. "I
don't know if I can do a comedy routine any more than I can
cry on cue or succeed at any of these acting opportunities.
I'll jump at the chance to experiment any chance I get."
Fernandez wasn't always the adventurous, athletic woman she
is now. Growing up, she battled weight, always trying to
lose another 5 or 10 pounds. As she's gotten older -- in her
20s and now into her late 30s -- she's become more and more
athletic, spending time running, hiking and, most recently,
taking jazz dance lessons. Fernandez grew up in a dancing
family; her father was a Mexican flamenco dancer and her
mother danced in his company.
"I love the outdoors. I love to run. It gives me time to
think, and I believe I get the best workout possible. That
kind of exercise really changed my whole physique," said
the 5-foot-7-inch Mexico City native. "I'm one of the lucky
people on the planet -- I build muscle and I tone very
quickly. And I really enjoy the benefits of being fit and
Unlike some Hollywood stars, Fernandez doesn't work out
four hours or more a day. She divides her small amount of
free time between her passions of reading and writing and
spending time with her border collies. She relates her
workout routine to brushing her teeth or taking a shower
every day; it's a part of life. If she misses a morning run,
she'll make it up later that evening or on the weekend.
"I really believe in the life strategy of nutrition that
advocates eating as many leafy greens, vegetables, fruits,
grains and protein as possible. These foods not only keep
you really fit, healthy and young, but they also fight
cancers and heart disease. I really believe in that. I eat
more broccoli now than I ever have in my life, and I
absolutely love it!"
Fernandez one day would like to open the
Flat Belly Deli,
serving only healthy and natural foods. Her weakness always
has been french fries, so now she seasons and bakes potato
strips, swearing they taste the same and, perhaps, even
better. Plus, she claims they're healthy. Fernandez wants
to share her favorite recipes and research through the Flat
Belly Deli, complete with calorie and fat counts for every
item on the menu.
"I used to sit there and think, 'Why does everything that
tastes good have to be bad for you? Why can't I love
butter?' I love spaghetti and meat sauce, and I love
doughnuts and candy and chocolate and buttered popcorn --
all those things that are sinful. As I've gotten more wise
and savvy about being healthy, I've realized that you don't
have to give up any of these things. If you're just a
little smart and a little creative, you can have all the
things you really love. You just have to learn to prepare
them in a really healthy way."
For now Fernandez is putting her culinary career on hold as
well as her career as a jazz dancer. "When the Latin
version of Alvin Ailey comes to town and they need a brown-
skinned Latin dancer to play one of the nutcrackers, I'll be
there," Fernandez said, laughing. "For me the goal is to
have beautiful skin and a wonderful sense of calm,
brightness in my eyes and to be healthy and beautiful, all
combined into one. There is pressure, yeah, to fit into the
glamour dresses and to look good in front of the camera, but
it's more of an intensity, a drive, a desire to look good
from the inside out."
Photo Credit: Albert L. Ortega