Four F's Drive Ainsley Earhardt, Faith, Family, 'Fox & Friends'

Gamecock Alum Honored By the School & Inducted Into SC Entertainment & Music Hall

Jeff Walker,  Entertainment Writer

While her childhood aspirations leaned more to being an actress, her parents and family orthodontist, directed a teenage Ainsley Earhardt to pursue a more secure career path in dentistry. However, neither of the two fields were part of God's chosen plan for a talented and beautiful young woman, who has become the face of morning television on Fox & Friends at Fox News Channel in New York City. aaaaaaaaearhardt3

"During high school I was working for a dentist, Dr. Richard Boyd in Columbia. He first put the bug in my ear about going to dental school. He's such a sweet man. He actually said he'd pay for my schooling. Then I could come back and eventually take over the practice."

Earhardt adds, "I had gone through braces but I still had problems with my teeth. He said as a graduation gift he was going to give me veneers. But bleaching gels were becoming a big thing and said let's try this first. I got so many compliments on my smile it just felt like everything was leading me to go to school to be a dentist."

While many family members had attended the University of South Carolina, Earhardt decided on Florida State. "I went to FSU for my freshman and sophomore years, but it was during my sophomore year that I began to reconsider my career choice. Being a dentist is a worthwhile profession, but I didn't feel like it was where God was leading."

She goes on to say, "It just kind of hit me. I don't love this. Biology is my thing, but chemistry and a lot of the other sciences were not. So many of the other students were doing so much better than me. So I began to pray about it and knew I was going to transition into another field." The hardest part for Earhardt. "Calling Dr. Boyd. I told him I appreciate all he's done, but it's just not for me."

Her childhood dream was still under consideration, "I really loved acting. But my parents were dead set against it. I think they worried about how hard it was, and couldn't see me living in Los Angeles." She continues, "Growing up I used to watch all these movies and award shows that took place in New York and LA, or were aired from either city and I was drawn to the glamour. At an early age I wanted to be famous, which is why I initially thought of taking up acting."

Admittedly Earhardt came from a practical family. Her father opted out of becoming a basketball coach to take a job selling janitorial and industrial supplies, a job that took the family to North Carolina before relocating outside of Columbia SC.

"My parents were just beautiful together. My dad was the disciplinarian. On the other hand my mom was the wonderful wife, a great mother, and there for the everyday projects. My mom taught school for 33 years. She loved teaching. She had dinner on the table every night. My dad would call and say what time he was going to be home and she had dinner ready, and we ate together as a family."

Earhardt admits her upbringing was somewhat idyllic. "We were middle class. We had some stressful moments, but my parents established a good home life for my older sister and younger brother. We lived in a nice neighborhood. The kind of neighborhood with friends where you'd play outside all day long until dinner time."

While acting was now off the table, another somewhat high profile career gained consideration. "I looked at journalism and my parents were happy about that, and that's when South Carolina became an option. They have a great journalism school and allow for hands on experience. There are a lot of big name schools offering degrees in communications but don't have studio facilities that provide the same experience you get at South Carolina."

Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina and reared in Columbia, Earhardt's parents and her grandparents provided a comfortable living for young Ainsley, raising her in a Christian household, and instilling a need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Although she attended church regularly and took part in youth groups, it wasn't until Earhardt was in college that she accepted Christ as her savior. "Surprisingly I grew up in church and in a Christian home, but that personal decision is one each of us have to make, and for me that came in college."

The Holy Spirit may have been working on Earhardt. "I had just affiliated with my sorority. Had some strong Christian fellowship there. We were meeting more wholesome guys. I joined a Bible study and had taken a Campus Crusade to New York City, which only solidified my desire to switch majors."

Seemingly every thing was falling into place. "I was now attending the same college my grandfather, my dad and several cousins had attended. I was close to home. I was pursuing a career I felt God was leading me into, and more importantly I was beginning my walk with Jesus, which is the most important decision I've ever made." A fan of the Gamecocks, Earhardt adds what many South Carolina graduates do. "My blood runs garnet and black."

Initially Earhardt honed her skills at the TV station on the South Carolina campus. "We produced our own shows. We did it all. We did news, we did weather. We had people working behind the scenes. Our show aired at 4pm. It wasn't always the best but again it gave us hands on experience."

During college Earhardt interned at WCBD in Charleston. "I had a great time there. Learned a lot. I remember Nina (Sossaman) and Dean (Stephens). She recalls long time meteorologist Rob Fowler. Everyone was so nice. I was green and just trying to learn anything and everything about broadcasting."

Her first real job came at WLTX in her hometown of Columbia. "That was great. They had me doing several things. That's what you do when you're new." She started out reporting for the 11pm news, eventually becoming a morning anchor two years later. "I was paired with a gentleman named Curtis Wilson. He was professional. He was older than me and knew the business. We were different but a good fit."

One of the few takeaways Earhardt gleaned during her time at WLTX would prove favorable in the future. "I really came to appreciate that morning time slot." Columbia was just a stepping stone to a bigger market. After working with a voice coach she accepted an offer in San Antonio which proved to be a short stint before moving to New York. "I was just 29 when I got a call from Fox."

Just shy of 31, Earhardt began her meteoric rise at Fox News Channel in 2007. She appeared on 'Hannity' with her own segment called 'Ainsley Across America', co-hosting 'Fox and Friends Weekend', as well as 'America's News Headquarters', dropping in as an occasional panelist on 'The Live Desk' and Greg Gutfeld's 'Red Eye'. In 2012, she also became the host of a new show called 'Fox & Friends First', which began airing at 5am.

Less than a decade (2016) after arriving at the Fox News Channel Earhardt found her permanent home becoming a co-host on 'Fox & Friends'. The 6-9am morning time slot has Earhardt working alongside Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. "It is so much fun. We're good friends on and off the set. I truly believe this is where God called me to be." aaaaaaaaeardhardt2

Similar to several morning news shows, 'Fox & Friends' while covering in depth current events is more a relaxed three hour program, with the hosts occasionally taking jibs and jabs at each other. Kilmeade takes the brunt of the potshots. "Brian is the butt of many of the jokes, but he takes it with a smile. He's incredibly funny and one of the hardest working guys at Fox. He preps for our show, does three hours and then does his own three hour show on Fox Radio (weekdays 9am-noon). Brian is a workhorse."

As for Doocy. "Steve is an all around nice guy. He's a great family man. A great dad. Of course his son Peter works for Fox, and I know he's very proud of him. One of his daughters works for Fox as well." Peter is married to Hillary Vaughn who is a correspondent for the Fox Business Network. "There's a lot of family around here."

In September of last year Lawrence Jones joined the trio on the morning couch, when he's not off reporting from a diner in America's heartland. "I love Lawrence. He's genuine and professional. Lawrence was mentored by Sean Hannity, and he's been a great addition to our morning crew." What Earhardt admires most about Jones. "He's humble. He has a heart for people and it shows. I could go on and on. Lawrence has a natural gift, and I expect he'll be around a long time at Fox."

What's a typical workday like for Earhardt. "I get up at 3:30 in the morning. All I have to do is have clean hair when I arrive at Fox, and they do the rest. They have security for us. We have associates that read us into the show. Usually I'll face time with the producers while I'm in hair and makeup. I'll be reading article and writing notes."

Morning prep often starts much earlier. "I've studied the night before. I'll watch the other networks to see how they are covering the news. I pride myself on being well prepared." What is her work schedule like after the three hour morning show. "It varies. I might hit the gym at 9:30. I could be a guest on 'Outnumbered'." Earhardt admits she welcomes filling in as often as needed at Fox, but by mid afternoon she's ready to pick her daughter up from school.

While those in Earhardt's circle enjoy their own shows on Fox, she says she's has no interest in flying solo. "I entertained the idea at one point. I talked with Sean and said there's a slot open. Should I go after it? He said 'absolutely not'! On the morning show you're able to be yourself. You don't have to be overly political. You can have fun. He's right. I love what I do."

Earhardt may live and work in New York City, but her roots run deep in the Palmetto State. The University of South Carolina recently awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Letters at the schools commencement ceremony, where Earhardt spoke as well. "It was so special. A proud moment for sure. I'm just touched they thought that much of me to bestow such an honor on me." aaaaaaaaearhardt6

Her weekend visit to her alma mater included a dressy get together. She was able to share the moment with her family. "I attended a black tie event. My dad and my brother were there. There were several members of the board of trustees who are conservatives like myself."

She adds, "The whole experience was special. Being surrounded by family and friends was even more special. When I spoke I lost it. I love South Carolina. I love the University of South Carolina. I especially love the school of journalism at the school. It was just a special weekend for me." Garnet and black forever.

The honorary degree capped off two weeks of recognitions for Earhardt. Back on April 25th she was inducted into the South Carolina Entertainment & Music Hall, a non-profit organization developed for the purpose of honoring South Carolina natives and or those with strong SC connections that have achieved national success.

The annual event took place at Furman University in Greenville. "Sadly, I was on assignment that day and couldn't attend the ceremony. I sent a video in. Being inducted is great for so many reasons. My grandfather went to Furman. Our family has a strong connection to the school. But more than that the upstate is so great."

Earhardt may work and live in NYC, but the entire state of South Carolina is home to her. She has her footprint from the Greenville Spartanburg area to the low country.

"I'm so blessed to have been born and raised in South Carolina. I have friends and family all over the state. When I was a kid my parents would bring us to Kiawah. We'd usually have other family friends with us. At least one day during our stay we'd come into Charleston for a long day."

Her admiration of Charleston goes deeper and has sibling ties. "After high school a lot of my friends went to the College of Charleston, so I would visit them. We would go out on a boat, listen to music, maybe grill out. I can remember attending the Rockville Regatta. Charleston has so much to offer. I welcome visiting as often as I'm able. And I love Seacoast Church." Even more reason to get to town. "My sister is a teacher in Mount Pleasant. So there are plenty of things that pull me to Charleston." aaaaaaaaearhardt5

Beautiful, talented, personable, and working her dream job, seemingly Ainsley Earhardt has it all. A professed Christian and the author of three well-received children's books, she admits her life isn't always rainbows and daffodils. "I want viewers to know, my life is not perfect." Her most recent children's book 'I'm So Glad You Were Born: Celebrating Who You Are' was published in 2022. 

Ideally the twice divorced mother of an inquisitive 8 year old daughter faces the same challenges several women come up against. "We don't always know God's will for our lives right away. But He is faithful." She admits there are several constants in her life. "My relationship with Jesus, my daughter, and my work. We don't always understand how things unfold, but God has given me the desire. I'm blessed in many ways and for that I'm truly thankful."