It is the quintessential question for many young women today, how to balance a career and have a family. And though child rearing years may be a few years off, it’s still in the back of our minds: Will I have to sacrifice one for the other?
Angie Goff provides an answer to that question: Yes. Yes, you can.
Goff has a five-month-old, Adora, a long-distance marriage, an active social life and, on top of it all, a career in television as entertainment and traffic anchor at WUSA-TV in Washington, DC.
Though she’s doing it all, she admits that at times she has moments when she’s not sure if she CAN do it all.
When I spoke to Angie over the phone on a Saturday afternoon, she was standing inside the Lincoln Memorial with her husband and baby, taking in the sights while she took the time to connect with the community, essential to her job as a journalist. Later that evening, she would eat dinner with her parents, go home, throw on a ball gown and rush to the Washington Hilton for the White House Correspondents dinner. She spends two to three evenings a week out at events, either shooting or growing her audience. It’s half of what she would do pre-motherhood, but she says she’s more of a homebody than a socialite.
“When I go to a party, I’m in and I’m out. Sometimes I show up in my workout clothes,” says Goff, who is sometimes in her pajamas by 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. “ I’m kind of a homebody. I want to drink coke, watch American Idol and fall asleep. I work hard during the week at social events, but on the weekend it’s off limits.”
Born and bred up in Seoul, South Korea as a self-proclaimed military brat, she had lunch with Hillary Clinton in the eighth grade because her father was invited to a luncheon. She still has the picture they took together.
She attributes her ability to move around and adapt to different places, an essential part of her early career, to her childhood experiences. “I learned to leave a place where I was comfortable and go somewhere where I was uncomfortable.”
Goff grew up on an American military base and didn’t move to Virginia until high school. “ I experienced the customs of Korea and had the ideas of service to country ingrained in me at a very early age.” Goff says the Fourth of July was always the biggest holiday on the base, something that has spilled into her career as a journalist, where she covers military issues and frequents Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Her career started as a child in Korea, when her father would turn on the only English channel each morning and night for the news. The local broadcasts were produced on the base, and in the fifth grade she befriended the daughter of the station’s anchor. After taking a tour, “I was totally captivated and I became obsessed,” Goff says. She auditioned for the Audio-Visual club at school and became part of the school broadcast each morning. She eventually persuaded her teacher to let her interview students on various topics. But she never seriously considered a career in journalism until she was rejected from the United States Military Academy at West Point. “ I thought I would be a general or some rocket scientist in the military. I was only able to follow my passion and my dream when that door closed.”
Goff, who now lives 10 minutes away from her parents in Herndon, Va., says they are proud of her career thus far.
After college, Goff worked for Mark Steines, now a friend and mentor, at Entertainment Tonight in Los Angeles. “He was the one that believed in me in the beginning,” Goff says. “The deal was that I’d go out there and he’d help me out and mentor me.”
Within two years she had her first job as a reporter in Iowa. “We had lunch before I left,” she says, “and he said, ‘the thing that sucks is that you’ve already had a taste of the dessert.’ And he was right. The fact that I got to go out to LA, and meeting Harrison Ford and John Travolta, it was a gear shift and move to Nowhere, Iowa where I worked harder than I had in my entire life.”
Goff now takes interns of her own, one of which just took a job with Mark Steines after Goff connected the two.
Goff met her husband a few years later while working in Columbia, South Carolina at WIS-TV.
“We got engaged six months prior to her moving to NOVA,” says her husband, Robert Ellis, a pediatric dentist with a growing practice. “And I must admit, at the beginning it was unusual that we lived in different states. But I can be up there for long weekends, and after doing it for a while, it’s all I know. It’s not ideal and we make it work.”
They would see each other every two to three weeks, with plenty of phone calls and Skype sessions in between. But in March of last year, things took a sharp turn. Goff found out she was pregnant.
“It made it complicated,” Ellis says. “I felt bad because I wanted to be there for everything. I wanted to make sure she was okay.” A big factor in Goff deciding to move to northern Virginia instead of DC was the proximity to her parents, which alleviated the trials of a pregnancy with a husband hundreds of miles away. And since their daughter, Adora Kate, was born last December, they all see each other every weekend.
Though they don’t have immediate plans to live in the same city, it is a long-term goal. “It’s a question that remains unanswered, because we’re in love with our careers and it makes us happy people. And it makes us happy people to be each other. We have down to a science. The formula is working.”
At the beginning of her pregnancy, Channel 9 approached Goff with the idea of a blog following her pregnancy. After a discussion with her husband that took some negotiating, Goff was signed up for an experience that ended up equally beneficial to her. The blog, DC Moms Like Me, is a community forum for Metropolitan mothers to exchange their trials, triumphs, shared experiences and advice. “I had a new community to tap into,” she says of her new following. “I got support that I wouldn’t have otherwise. And now we’re grateful to have this video diary.”
Goff now has a blog for baby Adora that follows everything from her clothing choices to attended events. In question of her privacy, Goff says: “I do put a lot out there, but there’s definitely more that I keep in. Just like any other hardworking mom out there, there are challenges and problems.”
Goff leaves her house every morning at 3 a.m., when the nanny arrives, and returns around noon. But sometimes that schedule doesn’t always work out. The day of the royal wedding, for instance, she worked her normal morning shift, but had to anchor the mid-day show as well, and didn’t get home until 3 p.m.
“It’s a tough balancing act,” says Andrea Roane, Goff’s Channel 9 co-anchor, who has two grown children of her own. “It’s hard when you have to look good, no matter what time you’re on the air. And then there are things in the community that she has to do because it helps gain an audience for the show. But like a lot of moms, she brings Adora with her. That’s what you have to do. You take your baby with you.”
Alex Naini is a cosmetic dentist and close friend of Goff’s, who she met while doing a segment on dentistry for Goff’s show. “I’m sure it’s not easy,” Naini says of Goff’s seemingly frenetic lifestyle. “But she makes it work in a positive way. She’s a mother and she’s a good mother, she’s a wife and she’s a good wife, she’s an anchor and she’s a good anchor.”
Though Naini, along with many others, calls Goff a role model, Goff doesn’t see herself that way.
“I don’t see myself as a role model. I see myself as a hard worker and hopefully a good mother who wants to find the delicate balance that so many women are forced to find.”
Nor does she consider herself a feminist: “I’m all about girl power and women succeeding in the work force, but I’m not burning my bra.”
When asked if she ever gets tired, she answered immediately, “Having a child brought me to that point. I remember sitting down and breast feeding my baby and thinking of all the things I had to do. And I realized I was letting this moment pass me by.” She says Adora has made her realize she cannot do it all.
“I had a lot of anxiety leading up to her birth, but it’s amazing how she made it black and white. Suddenly, saying ‘No’ became so easy. I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to be a super hero.”
Visit Goff’s blog at DC.MomsLikeMe.com, her WUSA website, OhMyGoff.TV, or watch her morning broadcast on WUSA, Channel 9.