Up Close and Personal with Natalie Morales

After 10 years as co-host of the “TODAY Show” in New York, Natalie Morales made the bold move to Los Angeles to become the West Coast anchor of the popular morning show, as well as to take on two new assignments anchoring “Access Hollywood” and “Access Hollywood Live.”

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Whether she’s interviewing celebrities, covering breaking news, or reporting serious stories from around the world, this mother of two brightens up the screen with her engaging storytelling whenever she is on the air.

Now living in Brentwood, a cozy suburb in Los Angeles and home to stars like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner (among others), Morales has immersed herself in life in La La Land. She shares thoughts about her new world and what she loves most about the City of Angels.

What’s the best thing about living in LA?

The mountains, the ocean, the scenery—living outdoors year-round. I love that there are a million hikes I have yet to discover, and I feel like I’m a much healthier and happier person here because I am getting outside so much.

What do you miss most about NYC?

My friends and everything being relatively close by! I also miss New York’s nonstop energy.

How has your family settled in?

My family is settling in nicely. My boys, Josh and Luke, are both at great ages (13 and 8) where the changes are exciting and new. Of course, they were nervous at first having only lived in one place all of their lives. But once they settled in at school and started making friends, we knew they would be fine. They miss their friends, but are enjoying discovering new places with us.

The best part of my job is …

The variety act! And I’m having so much fun at “work.” Kit [Hoover] and I are great friends, so it’s really great sharing much of my day with someone I love and respect so much. We have so much in common, it’s like we’ve been friends forever. I also love the teams I work with both at “Access” and our “TODAY Show” West Coast group. It’s been a really positive change overall and I’m looking forward to seeing my roles develop even further.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

To be myself and always be authentic. Viewers are savvy and know when something or someone is just an act. It’s not really advice, but it’s the way I live. If ever I was told to be something I wasn’t or to do something that wasn’t authentic to me, I have said no and raised my voice. I may not be for everyone, but at least those who know me know I am exactly who I am inside. I have never tried to be anyone else but me.

Your one “must-have” beauty or fashion item?

NARS concealer! As a morning person I need as much coverage as possible under the eyes, and this concealer is salmon-colored and goes on like velvet. It’s perfect and makes me look wide-eyed no matter how much or how little sleep I have had.

Which charitable organizations do you support, and why?

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Augie’s Quest, which is working tirelessly to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I am also a champion for the Alzheimer’s Association. My mother-in-law passed away a few years ago after a 17-year battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. I have also been an advocate and supporter of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps give people with disabilities the opportunity to compete and play sports by providing them with the necessary prosthetics and apparatus necessary.

BELLA’s tagline is “Beauty defined by you.” What is your definition of beauty?

It’s exactly that … beauty is so personal. To me it really is about having a beautiful soul … feeling good about myself and having confidence. It’s less about physical appearance and more about the positive affect you can have on the world.

Favorite LA neighborhood?

I’m still finding my way around and getting to know LA. It’s so vast, and each area is so different. I love Malibu’s beachy, “casual” way; everyone seems laid back and easy-going. I love exploring around Old Hollywood and seeing the incredible views from the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park. I feel like a kid at Disney right now—so many places and cool areas to explore. And I’m just getting started!

Favorite LA restaurant?

Toscana in Brentwood. It’s our neighborhood place. The staff is always so welcoming, it feels like home inside. And the food is always 100 percent perfect—just the way you like it.

Reunited with my pal @jennabhager for another #TodayAdventure! @todayshow

A post shared by Natalie Morales (@nmoralesnbc) on

Favorite beach?

Believe it or not, I haven’t gotten to the beach much at all! We did go with our kids to the Malibu Lagoon State Beach once and I loved that the water seemed calmer and it was less crowded but still protected by lifeguards. Also, the amazing pier and parkland is right there, so it really is a beautiful spot.

Favorite hiking spot?

There are a million spots. I love the Malibu mountain hikes, but for convenience I am really into Fryman Canyon off of Laurel Canyon. It’s close to work and a great, quick workout.

When LA looks like Ireland… hiking with the fam.

A post shared by Natalie Morales (@nmoralesnbc) on

Favorite workout?

Hiking! And Orangetheory Fitness.

Favorite weekend getaway?

I haven’t had a chance to get away much yet. But I’m hoping to get to Santa Barbara, Montecito, and Ojai. Everyone raves about them and I’m hoping to go this year and, once settled, get out and explore a little more.

A visit to LA isn’t complete until …

You’ve had an In-N-Out burger animal style—the works!

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