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The FishbowlDC Interview With The Root’s Top Byrd

Say hello to The Root‘s Publisher Donna Byrd. Prior to her present post, Byrd was CEO of Black America Web, where she worked with national radio personality Tom Joyner to launch three African-American news and lifestyle websites. Byrd has sold toilet paper for Procter & Gamble; she’s quick on her feet — she once sang a jingle during a Coca-Cola presentation when technology broke down. “I remember being bright red,” she told FBDC in a phone interview, explaining that she cannot carry a tune. “I remember my face burning the entire time.” Schooling: Byrd has a B.A. in American Government from UVA and an MBA from Duke Business School.  Byrd was a military brat — she graduated from high school in Germany and has lived up and down the East Coast, North Carolina and five different places in Virginia growing up. She has traveled to 41 countries. Capetown, South Africa is the favorite. By the way, cabbies, if you want a tip don’t chatter away on your cell phone and put Byrd’s safety in jeopardy. It tends to get under her skin. Enjoy!

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? IZZE pomegranate flavor.

How often do you Google yourself? Rarely.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Who wrote this?

Do you have a favorite word? Wow.

Who would you rather have dinner with –  MSNBC’s Chris Matthews or FNC’s Chris Wallace? Chris Matthews. It seems like he has evolved as a journalist and reporter over the years. I’d be interested in hearing his perspective on a lot of issues, particularly social issues. 

Who is your favorite working journalist? CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. I don’t always agree with him, but I always think his opinions are thoughtful, smart and provocative.

You are ordered to go on a road trip to an undisclosed location. You can go with White House Spokesman Jay Carney or Bo, the President’s Portuguese Water Dog. No ones feelings will be hurt. Who do you take? Jay Carney, unless the location is in a deserted area with water, in which case I’d roll with Bo.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? Old phone.

It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry? Yep.

What swear word do you use most often? The one when you string them all together.

If you weren’t a journalist what would you be? If I weren’t a publisher, I’d travel the world as a relief worker.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) Shannon Reeves, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Melissa Harris-Perry, Cynthia Gordy and I’d add a wildcard guest, Dave Chappelle.

When you pig out what do you eat? Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

When did you last cry and why? Four weeks ago when my dad passed away.

What TV show is your guilty pleasure? HBO’s “True Blood.”

What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? A land and water safari in South Africa.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. My cotton UVA sweatshirt. I think I bought it for $40 in college.

Pick one: Will Ferrell’s Bush impersonation or Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin? Tina Fey, hands down.

Find out what Byrd hates after the jump…

Do you read your astrology? Only if I’m having a bad day or feel like winning the lottery.

Tell us a secret not many people know about you. I hate shopping.

Who is your mentor? Keith Clinkscales and Cliff Sloan.

What and where was your first job in journalism? My first job in publishing was at BlackAmericaWeb.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? During a major marketing presentation, the audio broke on the commercial clip, so I had to sing the jingle for Coca-Cola executives.

Have you ever been fired? No

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? Yesterday. Someone was teasing me about one of my many habits. (trying to juggle everything at once)

When and why did you last lose your temper? I rarely lose my temper. I am usually at my best when all hell breaks loose quite frankly.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career? “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Who would you want to play you in a movie?  Zoe Saldana

Name jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years): I sold toilet paper right out of college (P&G), I was a brand manager on Coca-Cola Classic, and I helped launch four companies (including The Root).

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it? No.

Who should just call it a day? Glenn Beck. I think there are many questions around whether he is a responsible commenter/journalist/host or whatever you want to call him. 

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good. What’s your pet peeve?

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