My good friend and brilliant philanthropist, Scott Lazerson, (he runs Interface Foundation) recently introduced me to Ana Maria Montero, anchor and correspondent for CNN’s entertainment show – Escenario. Scott wanted us to interview Ana Maria because he felt she was a perfect fit for Naturally Savvy. He was right!
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your job at CNN?
Ana Maria Montero: I describe myself as a Latina in disguise. My mom is Cuban and my dad was from Spain. I was raised between Atlanta and Spain so I consider myself tri-cultural in a sense because neither of my parents wanted to give up their culture.
I did my undergrad in marketing and advertising with minors in broadcast journalism, spanish and french. I got a job at CNN while I was still in college but quit to go to Grad school in Madrid. While still in Spain I was offered a position as an Anchor/Correspondent for CNN en Espanol in LA so I moved back to the U.S. to take the job. Funny enough though, my dream job wasn’t 'I want to be on TV'. My only reason for even minoring in broadcasting was so I could work for the Olympic Games in Atlanta. But, as destiny would have it, I was offered a job to interview celebrities and I’ve been hosting the same entertainment news show for 12 years.
I enjoy my job and interviewing celebrities because honestly, most of them are quite entertaining. But more importantly, many of them seem to possess a certain openness and sense of responsibility for the world (through charities) and the environment that I identify with. Certain celebrities realize they have platforms to speak about good and they are discovering that it doesn't conflict with their careers. I don’t feel it has always been there, but it is a trend that has really stepped up in the last 10 years.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): What are you passionate about?
Ana Maria Montero: I’m passionate about my family, my cultures, and about life. I am passionate about journalism (I love TV as a visual medium). I’m also passionate about sustainable living, about being mindful. This covers anything green, not being wasteful, protecting our environment and looking for better ways of doing things. I’m passionate about anyone who is trying to make the world a better place. It’s really about being conscious and not forgetting That we’re not alone on the planet. We are all interrelated and interconnected.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): When did you first get start living a ‘green’ lifestyle and a holistic lifestyle?
Ana Maria Montero: Living ‘green’ has been a lifelong thing for me. My dad was raised in post-war Spain where resources were always scarce. My mom came from money but in escaping communist Cuba, she had to give up everything and start all over when she moved to America. As a result, my parents instilled a ‘no waste’ mentality into us from a very young age. For example, some of their favorite expressions were “eat your food because there are people who don’t have anything to eat” and “use and re-use what you have because there is no point to be wasteful.” They weren’t frugal necessarily, they were just conscious.
As for living a holistic lifestyle, I came from a background of Western medicine because my parents didn’t know anything else. After about six years of doing my show I started feeling sick. My friend suggested I see a doctor of natural medicine, but I initially resisted. Eventually though I gave in and did a total detoxification cleanse that was a month long and it changed my life. Now I’m super into health. I exercise regularly and eat well (according to my blood type). This was 5 years ago and I still feel like a new person.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): Can you give us an idea of the types of foods you eat or drink?
Ana Maria Montero: I eat natural and organic foods as much as I can. I stay away from red meat and pork, and avoid sugar and alcohol, as much as possible. I’m almost a vegetarian but I do eat fish. I drink a lot of water – in fact twice the amount than what’s recommended because L.A. is so dry. I believe diet is the key to maintaining good health.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): What type of exercise do you like to do?
Ana Maria Montero: I like to do weights for toning and I love to hike, whitewater raft and snowboard.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): Tell me about your non-profit organization.
Ana Maria Montero: My non-profit is called ‘Trekking for Kids’. Basically we organize treks around the world and raise money for a local orphanage in the area in which the trek takes place. We chose orphans because my dad was an orphan from the Spanish Civil war so it is a cause very close to our hearts.
We started the actual organization because my brothers and I love to travel, but when we would, we would always see so much poverty and we always felt like we only 'took' and never left anything behind after we went home. Being raised in a home where service was always emphasized, it was only a matter of time before we found a way to have fun and help others in the process.
So again, the way it works is that we organize a trek somewhere around the world and chose an orphanage in that area.
(Last year for example, we climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and adopted a local orphanage in Moshi.) Each trekker who comes with us has to cover their expenses as well as raise a minimum of $1000 for the orphanage. All of the money raised by the trekkers then goes directly to improve the lives of those kids. We are very conscious about how we spend out resources, choosing always to invest and improve their infrastructure as well as other needs. It really is a great way to have a vacation and help other people at the same time. We like to refer to it as a kind of ‘Conscious Travel’ that allows you to combine your passion for the outdoors with helping others.
Naturally Savvy Guide (Andrea Donsky): How do you maintain balance in your life?
Ana Maria Montero: I make lists. It’s the only way to keep everything straight for me. I use Iocal. Mac is my savior in terms of time management. I always make sure to have my priorities as straight as possible. God, friends and family, work. That helps me a lot.