Leeza Gibbons’ life story provides motivation for others

There were few dry eyes in the house when Leeza Gibbons, best known as the anchor of “Entertainment Tonight,” ended her keynote address Saturday at the JCK Show ~ Phoenix.

In a presentation titled, “From Grits to Glitz” Gibbons spent about an hour discussing the changes in her career and her personal life while using her experiences to offer inspiration to other women on how to cope with the pressures, pains, and joys of day-to- day life. And how, in the end, to evaluate what is most important in one’s life.

But it was at the end of her presentation that the audience was most moved, when she showed a videotape of her mother who is inflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. She talked about how her family is coping with her mother’s disease, and how she founded the “Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation,” in honor of her mother. The foundation works to raise money to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and related illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Before the film, Gibbons spoke about her career and how a woman’s role changed over the years. She said during her approximate 25-year career, women on television went from being eye candy, to being able to “have it all” and, finally, to a place where women can choose what is or isn’t important.

When she began her career she said the “peroxide in my hair was more important than the brains in my head.”

She also noted that with professional help because of her position, her fashion sense, including her personal jewelry, grew more sophisticated, or “literally from grits to glitz.”

As she became more confident with herself, Gibbons said she also became more confident with her looks and stopped worrying about how others viewed her.

Gibbons said that she also stopped trying to “have it all” and instead focused on what was important in her life.

She also gave what she called her four basic rules for living:

* Love your work

* Treasure your friends

* Be careful what you think

* Believe in the power of the moment

She also said that it’s important to “embrace change” and don’t be afraid to dream and to live to try to achieve those dreams.