Interview: Robert Piper

Robert Piper: What inspires you?

Nancy O’Dell: Well, I just actually spent an entire weekend with the Special Olympics and doing a bunch of stuff with them. I did the opening ceremony, and then I did the “sports experience” yesterday. And so, honestly, I have to say—and [it] sounds predictable—kindness. Because the Special Olympics, like having to see that yesterday, it’s so much about inclusion and respect for people. AndI think that’s another thing that inspires me. I think so many times people forget how important that is. I was with one of the kids yesterday doing the “sports experience,” and after I was done, that athlete was so concerned with the umpire and making sure that we thanked him, and making sure that we included him in the photo. And I was like, isn’t that cool? That Special Olympics is all about inclusion and respect for all people. And making sure that nobody feels left out, and he was so conscious about that. You know, when someone works hard at something like that and they’re kind to people, that’s very inspirational to me.

RP: What is the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your life?

NO: The death of my mom, for sure. I still don’t feel like I’ve overcome it all, and I still struggle with it on a daily basis. I mean, we were just really, really close. So, you know, I’ll even think, “Oh, I’m gonna tell Mom that!” and then I realize so often I can’t. Because we would talk every single day, and I was just really close with her and she was just such an incredible mom, and she was there with me every single minute of my life. And so, she passed away from ALS, like two days shy of my daughter turning a year old.

RP: You’re a big advocate for ALS now, right?

NO: I am. I just became the spokesperson for The Ice Bucket Challenge is coming back around, and they do so much for research with ALS and trying to find a drug and trying to find a cure. There’s really only one drug that is out there right now, and it really doesn’t do much other than extend one’s life by a month or so. So there’s really some research that needs to be done. That’s why the Ice Bucket Challenge was amazing! So I’m very honored to be able to do that. And Augie Nieto, who is kind of a well-known figure in the ALS world, has been living with ALS for about ten years. He’s very involved in the forefront of research. So I’m looking forward to working with them… hopefully doing some good and helping them raise awareness for funding and research. You know, hopefully no one else will have to go through what we did.

RP: What projects are you currently working on?

NO: Well, I’m really excited because I have a clothing line coming out with EVINE [Live]. It was started by an incredible group of executives; you can shop online, you can shop on TV, and, you know, it’s like I have to report so much on the current trends and on the fashion. And I have to work so much on Entertainment Tonight, and so often I’ll have people write in and say, “Hey, where did you get your dress?” you know, or “Where’d you get your shoes?” and “Where’d you get that?” So it will be fun to say, “It’s actually from the Nancy O’Dell collection.” It will be fun to finally be able to say that. We’ve had a lot of fun; we’ve been, like, sifting through my closet, and I’m like, “I like this, I like this.” And it’s been great; I like to call it “elegance with an edge.” Because it’s great—it kind of works within your career, and then it can transition into a school meeting, if you’re a mom. Or going out to meet someone for dinner; it works for that. You can add one piece or take off another. It works for all those different phases of one’s life.
PHOTO: EVINE Live/Stephanie Davis Kleinman

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