ODU Grad Goes from the 'Face of Fox' to the 'Hampton Roads Show'
It's 7:15 a.m., and many Hampton Roads residents are just getting started with their day - having breakfast, getting kids up and dressed, making their way to work along congested roads.
But at Fox 43, the small group of women who produce the "Hampton Roads Show" are having their most important meeting of the day, finalizing the lineup for that morning's show.
The big news of the day? Simon Cowell of "American Idol" fame is being sued for being mean to one of the contestants on another of his reality shows.
The rest of the show is discussed and the participants scatter for their last-minute preparation. Kelly Gaita breezes back to the green room to touch up her makeup, talking the entire way about the excitement of live television.
Gaita, who graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor's degree in communication in 2009, has been the lifestyle correspondent for the "Hampton Roads Show" since it launched in January.
"It's incredible," she said. "It's so exciting and different every day. I love what I do, and the people I get to work with. I know how fortunate I am."
Gaita, 25, got her start on television in a somewhat unusual fashion. While still an ODU student, she saw an advertisement by Fox 43, looking for the new "Face of Fox," a yearlong position to promote the station on television, and in the community.
"I applied, and luckily I was chosen from 180 contestants. It was great. It was a yearlong contract doing promos on camera and events in the community, which I loved."
Stephanie Cooke, executive producer of the "Hampton Roads Show," is also responsible for the Face of Fox competition at Fox 43.
"When we were getting ready to launch the 'Hampton Roads Show,' I had in the back of my mind finding someone who could slide into a role with the show," Cooke said.
"Kelly just impressed us right from the start. She just had 'it.' She jumps off the screen at you." Before her year as the Face of Fox was even complete, Gaita was hired full time as the lifestyle correspondent for the nascent show.
Perhaps inspired by Gaita, two current ODU students, Allison Nemcosky and Ashley Smith, are among the 10 finalists for this year's Face of Fox competition.
Seven months into a job in live television, Gaita has proven an absolute natural at the fluid interactions required every day. She does a segment for the "Hampton Roads Show" called "The Buzz," where she talks about the feedback the show is receiving from viewers, as it is being televised.
She also records a weekly feature called "Kelly Can," which puts Gaita out in the community doing different jobs. For this week's "Kelly Can," because it was Christmas in July week, Gaita used a chainsaw to carve ice sculptures.
"I love doing the 'Kelly Can' segment because it allows me to do things I would have never tried before," Gaita said. "I can stretch myself and be whatever I want to be. It also gives me an appreciation for what others do in their job or hobbies, and how it impacts our community and our lives."
"Hampton Roads Show" co-anchor Kerri Furey said it's amazing how quickly Gaita has picked up the energy, pace and presence of live television performance.
"She has natural personality on the air. There are a lot things about doing this that you can learn, but I personally feel that, for the most important stuff, you've either got or you don't, and she's got it," Furey said.
Interestingly, when Gaita attended ODU, she wasn't dead set on a job on screen. She's spent time as a motivational speaker for young people through her church, and taken part in missions in Pennsylvania and Russia.
Gaita moved back to the area - she grew up in Yorktown - after attending Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. Talking about her final two years at Old Dominion, Gaita said her professors helped her develop confidence in her ability to do well in whatever career she chose.
"I felt challenged by my teachers, but they were awesome about meeting with me when I wanted help studying, or just had questions," she said. "I appreciated them taking time out for me; it made me believe in myself."
Gaita isn't sure television is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. "I want to write books. I want to open a coffee shop by the beach. There's so much I want to do," she said.
But for now, there are five shows to do every week, which means a lot of early mornings, and a lot of adrenaline-filled live performances.
"It's so fun being able to bring relevant, hip, cool, lifestyle information to Hampton Roads. It's not newsy at all, it's just a fun show, and we get to bring this to Hampton Roads."
Catch a behind the scenes look with Kelly on the Hampton Roads Show here:
This article was posted on: August 2, 2010
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