PHOTOS BY KIRSTEN MICCOLI
Styling, in gallery order: 1. Dress: Alaïa, $4,200 Coat: Givenchy, $3,255; 2. Gown: Parker, $682, Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan; Neimanmarcus.com; 3. Gown: Camilla and Marc, $660; Coat: Céline, $5,600; 4. Coat: Burberry, $3,295; Sweater: Céline, $980; Skirt: Alice + Olivia, $698; All available: Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan; Neimanmarcus.com
“Three … Two … One!” Confetti rains down, Champagne glasses clink, lovers kiss. It’s New Year’s Eve, and Cheryl Scott, the 30-year-old meteorologist for WLS-Channel 7, is broadcasting the countdown live from Moonlight Studios, ringing in 2016 alongside Alan Krashesky on “COUNTDOWN CHICAGO 2016,” the city’s longest-running and most-watched NYE program. It’s one of the perks of Cheryl’s job, getting to be a part of the city’s celebration, live on TV, but she doesn’t know what the heck she’s going to wear. Full disclosure: Cheryl is my best friend, and like all best friends do, we talk about things like what to wear for New Year’s Eve — regardless of the fact that I’ll be going to a party while she’ll be live on TV, broadcasting into the homes of more than 700,000 people.
“COUNTDOWN CHICAGO 2016,” ABC7’s coverage of New Year’s Eve, features Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco broadcasting live from the JW Marriott, Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner from the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont — where Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper will perform for a crowd of 18,000 — and more. Tune in December 31 at 11 p.m.
I met Cheryl at an event a few years ago, and for whatever reason — we’re both in media, we’re close in age and had mutual friends and interests — we hit it off. This is my attempt to show you the side of Cheryl that her closest friends know (which, truthfully, isn’t all that different from the bubbly girl you know from TV) and answer some of the questions she gets asked all the time. … You know, super pressing stuff like where she got her dress or who does her hair.
Cheryl grew up in Atco, New Jersey — a small town between Philly and the Jersey Shore, which is nothing like reality TV portrays it, she’s quick to clarify — with two older brothers, who picked on her relentlessly. She didn’t realize at the time, of course, but that harassment helped her grow a thick skin that she’d need later in life, when her celebrity would cause others — strangers behind computers, mostly — to say negative things about her. But the “haters” are few and far between, drowned out by droves of wonderful, devoted fans: 34,000 on Twitter and 20,000 on Instagram — making her one of the most popular local newscasters — many of whom followed her when she came to Channel 7 from WMAQ-Channel 5 in December of 2014. Her fans are science-loving college grads who look up to her as a career idol; suburban moms and dads who love the bright smile with which she delivers even the bleakest forecasts; an elderly woman who wrote a letter asking Cheryl to call her husband, Chester, on his 86th birthday.
What’s most important to know about Cheryl is that she’s so much more than a pretty face (though of course she is that, too). In fact, the whole talking-on-TV thing is one aspect of her job that didn’t come naturally; it’s an art form she taught herself.
“I didn’t have any experience on TV [when I got my first job in Erie, Pennsylvania],” Cheryl says. “I had no experience in journalism. So what I would do before and during my first job, is actually VHS record other meteorologists and watch their shows and then try to mimic them, alone in my apartment. Then I would put it on mute, and just stare at the maps and talk over them, and do it over and over and over again until I became comfortable talking.” When you see her on TV, she’s ad-libbing — there’s no prompter or cue cards — her entire three-and-a-half minute segment, which is no easy feat; then she updates the weather data for her next segment just minutes later. While making her maps before going live, she’s got hot rollers in her hair (the old-fashioned kind: She uses Infiniti Pro by ConAir Instant Heat, and TRESemmé hairspray) to maintain TV-ready tresses, which she pulls out right before stepping onto the green screen. She’s a pro — and people in high places are starting to take notice: Earlier this year, she filled in for weekend meteorologist Rob Marciano on “Good Morning America.”
In her early days as an on-air meteorologist in Erie, though, she wasn’t quite so polished. “When you work in small markets and you’re just learning the ropes, figuring everything out, you learn what works and what doesn’t,” she says. “I learned a lot about what didn’t work.” Namely: Pantsuits are not her thing. “I have a really short torso, so pantsuits just don’t work for me; they make me look frumpy. I’ll never be that girl who can pull off a sexy pantsuit. So I started wearing dresses early on.”
This posed a new problem: finding the right dress. And — spoiler alert — she has to purchase and wear all her own clothes on TV. “It’s not exactly easy finding a dress that works on TV,” she says. “You want a solid, bright-colored dress that pops. You can’t wear green or you’d go invisible [against the green screen], and patterns just don’t work because we’re showing so much behind us on the map and you don’t want to be a distraction. … I do a lot of shopping at Karen Millen and Bloomingdale’s — I look for sales.” Her tip: Sign up for email alerts or make personal connections with people who work at the stores so you can get notified when things are going on sale. Off air, she’s super casual, sporting jeans and flannel shirts from Forever 21 — her one splurge: “rag & bone boots” — to eat pizza and hang out with her friends. “I mean, what girl doesn’t love pizza?” she laughs.
Cheryl’s devotion to her job goes beyond just reporting the weather — she works with the Red Cross to provide aid when severe weather affects particular areas (the organization was on site when tornadoes hit Fairdale, Illinois this spring); she was on the track team at Brown University — she ran the 400-meter and did long jump; she has nieces and nephews back home and a 7-year-old dog, Lola, here in Chicago. She’s many things to many people, but to me, she’s just the girl I talk to about what to wear for New Year’s Eve.
A few weeks ago, a story went viral about a $23 dress from Amazon that dozens of female meteorologists across the country could be seen wearing — it was shared on a Facebook group, so Cheryl and hundreds of women in the industry have started shopping for wardrobe items on Amazon. “There are some great finds there!” she says. “Who would’ve thunk?” About an hour after our interview, she bought five dresses on Amazon for a total of only $120. (She sent me a screen shot of her cart to brag about the deal she got.) Here, a few finds like the ones you may see on TV.
AT THE SHOOT
This week’s issue was an especially fun one, as our managing editor Elle Eichinger got to interview her best friend, ABC7 meteorologist Cheryl Scott (that’s them at left) for the New Year’s Eve-themed cover story. At the photo shoot — a full-on celebration, complete with confetti poppers and metallic balloons — we gave Scott the glam treatment and picked out high-fashion, fantasy looks perfect for ringing in 2016.
Photographer: Kirsten Miccoli
Hair and makeup: Angie Chavez
Shoot producer: Katerina Bizios