In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of her favorite influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers.
This week, Clara speaks with television producer and fashionista Erica Rivera.
Erica has wanted a career in journalism for as long as she can remember, and the determination to make it into television eventually landed her the dream job as a segment producer. Little did she know that she was about to meet the love of her life – Geraldo Rivera – while working as a segment producer on his show “Rivera Live” at CNBC. The two recently celebrated their lucky 13th wedding anniversary, and have daughter Sol together.
When Erica is not spending valuable time with her family, she is busy fundraising for a number of charities, working on a pilot for a new talk show, or helping out with admissions and parental tours at her daughter’s school. Erica and her husband Geraldo are also frequent attendees at many prominent events and galas throughout the year, where she can be seen sporting one fabulous designer gown after the next.
Read more about her favorite designers in this week’s Q&A.
1. When and how did you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in media and television?
I have wanted a career in journalism ever since growing up in a household where we debated politics and current events. After interning at Channel Nineteen and the Fox affiliate WJW in Cleveland, where I am from, I was hooked. From there I went to CBS in Chicago, ESPN Sports in Madison, Wisconsin (where I also studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison). Spending a semester abroad working at CNN Business News London made me much more savvy and led to being hired as a production assistant at CNBC, eventually becoming a segment producer, while practicing the prompter and putting a reel together on the side. I was about to send my reel out to stations when I fell deeply in love with Geraldo and as a result produced our sailing trip to the Amazon River for the Travel Channel – and it’s been quite a ride ever since!
2. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome professionally? How has that impacted the way you approach similar situations today?
The travel schedule that comes with working in television. One of the reasons I stepped down from my role at CNBC was mine and Geraldo’s conflicting work schedules.
3. What is a typical day like for you? And what do you like to do on a day off?
Lately I have been spending some time working with Patricia Stark, who is a wonderful media coach, to prepare for being on camera. I am currently working on a pilot for a new talk show, so that also takes up some of my time. Other than that, I am on the board of the TADA! Youth Theater and Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, and fund raise for Life’s WORC, which supports people with developmental disabilities and autism. I also work in admissions, and give tours to perspective parents, at my daughter’s school.
On a day off, I like to be at home with my family, when we are not attending one of the many benefits that we are involved in. Another charity very close to my heart is the 5 Under 40 Foundation, which is run by my gorgeous friend Jennifer Finkelstein, and which helps women with breast cancer.
4. You and Geraldo recently celebrated your 13th wedding anniversary. Tell us how you celebrated this!
We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary by having a fun dinner at the Polo Bar and seeing Les Miserables with our 11-year-old daughter Sol, who came back from her performing arts camp wanting to see it. Instead of presents, we are planning a big trip to South Africa with all of our daughters: Isabella, Simone, and Sol, over winter break, and from there visiting our eldest, Gabriel, and his wife and son, in Amsterdam.
5. What are your three favorite restaurants, three favorite bars AND three favorite locations to visit in New York?
The Polo Lounge
King Cole Bar
Three favorite locations:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Boathouse in Central Park
(I had to put four – too hard to choose between these!)
6. Which three events on your annual calendar will you will absolutely not miss?
The Kaplen JCC on the Palisades annual fundraiser for the therapeutic nursery which takes place in September.
My daughter Sol’s school’s annual benefit which is held in the spring.
An annual art show that I attend with the seventh grader that I mentor – it’s at the Storefront Academy in Harlem, and takes place in the spring.
7. What was your best New York moment?
My best friend surprised me with fourth row center Barbra Streisand tickets. Andy Cohen and Sarah Jessica Parker were sitting behind us and we had the best time.
8. Tell us something that people do not know about you. (And you cannot say it is a secret!)
I have a total Juicy Fruit addiction! And I am a swimmer – I swim laps every day in the rooftop pool of our building.
9. How would you describe your style?
My style is anything that’s tailored to my curves and flattering. I’m into feminine, sexy and classic pieces. Dressing understatedly modern, infusing prints such as Erdem or Preen that says I’m fun, but not wacky. I usually go for classic black, grey, white and use color for special events. For every day, I love understated but beautiful textured items, such as from The Row or Michael Kors. I also like to merge various designers together so you’re put together head to toe, but where it looks like you’re not trying too hard.
10. Which three accessories can you not live without?
My rose gold cage ring with diamonds from Rachel Katz Jewelry, my elegant Cartier gold watch with diamonds that I’ve had for 16 years (Geraldo bought it for me on one of our first dates), and a very special purse that my mom made for me out of her wedding dress (someone had spilled red wine on her dress so I couldn’t wear it – and I probably would have otherwise, because we are very close). She surprised me with it on my wedding day. It had a pocket for my grandfather’s coin and pictures of every woman in our family from their wedding day. It is one of my most prized possessions.
11. Name your favorite… and tell us why:
a. Fashion Designers/Brands
Lanvin, Victoria Beckham and Valentino for sexy garments, and Celine bags and sunglasses for accessories. Chloe makes beautiful summer dresses, and I especially love the fit of Alexander McQueen and Diane Von Furstenberg dresses.
Skinny jeans with a classic white button down shirt, an Hermes belt, and a blazer is a favorite. Or a black dress, possibly with sneakers for daytime, and I always carry a pair of heels in my bag just in case.
The Sound Of Music or Tootsie
I just read The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins and loved the suspense. I was rooting for Rachel the whole time.
12. Who is your style icon? Where do you find your style inspiration?
Michelle Obama is the ultimate style icon for me. Her intellect, confidence, and strength interweaves into the clothes she wears. She is exquisite, belting her sweaters with crisp button down shirts tucked underneath. The first lady embodies glamour and knows how to have fun with fashion. She supports a lot of young designers, which is very cool.
My greatest fashion influence has been from my stunning friend Alina Cho. She is the former host of CNN’s “Fashion: Backstage Pass,” book editor for Ballentine Bantam Dell, and interviews designers in a lecture series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has exquisite beauty and style. I also worship Kelly Ripa’s style. She looks gorgeous in everything. I’ll also snap pictures of Olivia Palermo from magazines to save in my iPhone, because she has great street style and gorgeous hair styles.
13. Name your favorite vacation spot and hotel? What makes these places so special?
Funny you should ask, we were just discussing this. We had the best time in Santorini recently and Mykonos, renting a boat with a crew and swimming in the Aegean Sea. Our favorite vacation hotel is either the Bel Air in Malibu or Hotel Cipriani in Venice. We love to swim and they have the best swimming pools. The Villa Deste in Lake Como is gorgeous but rocks since it is on a dock.
14. What song, meditation or mantra can you listen to on repeat? And why?
My father died of prostate cancer in his early 60s. This reminds me every day that life is short so you have to have fun when you are able to and enjoy it.
15. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like to meet? And why?
Lin-Manuel Miranda – the creator of Hamilton. I have seen the show twice and would love to further discuss Puerto Rico and politics with him – as well as Broadway theater, which is a big passion of mine.
16. Anything else you want to discuss or promote?
I am thrilled to be working on a pilot for a talk show where I would be one of the television hosts – I can’t wait to see that through!
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Erica Rivera and Photographer Nina Drapacz