Former Longhorn Basketball Star A Finalist For Good Morning America’s New ‘Advice Guru’

Fran Harris shooting the basketballA former Texas Longhorns women’s basketball and WNBA standout is a finalist to become the new “advice guru” on Good Morning America.

Fran Harris led the Texas Longhorns to an undefeated season in 1986, won a WNBA championship with the Houston Comets, and began a career teaching the lessons she learned on the court to executives as a “no excuses” life coach. 

She starred in a home-renovation meets life-renovation show on HGTV last spring, and now she’s one of 20 finalists selected from 16,000 applicants vying to solve Americans’ problems every morning on television.

The Alcalde sat down to ask her why she thinks she’s got what it takes.

TT: So what is this contest?

FH: Good Morning America is looking for its new 21st century advice guru, the ultimate advice-giver, essentially.

TT: That’s a lot of pressure.

FH: Ha, yeah. What that person will be doing is not only taking questions from GMA viewers and dispersing  advice online in a column, but also making appearances on-air.

TT: How did you hear about the contest?

FH: My sister, who, ironically, is a therapist and marriage-and-family professor, heard about it when one of her grad students sent it to her and said, “You should apply for this.” And my sister took a look at it and said, “This isn’t me — it’s my sister, though.” So, when I got up that morning to check my e-mail, all I saw in the forward was: this is you. I clicked on that link and thought, “Yeah, this is me.”

TT: Why did you think that?

FH: I’ve been doing life coaching for a long time. When I was a student athlete at UT, I really started doing it without realizing when I would go out and speak about team-building and why the Texas basketball team was so successful. When I graduated, I started my own company for executive coaching, life coaching, and fitness coaching. Coaching was that thread. No matter what I did, I always ended up there.

Fran HarrisTT: At what point did you make the switch to coaching on TV?

FH: This past spring, I was producing a play in Dallas — because I’m also a screenwriter and a playwright and a director — and I got this call from a producer who asked if I was still doing life coaching. I said I was, and the producer said, “We’re doing this show for HGTV that’s a life- and home-renovation show. So while the family is getting their home renovated, we’re looking for either a therapist or a life coach to help them navigate whatever their life dilemmas are. Would you be interested in coming to audition?”

So I go to New York to audition on Friday. Then on Monday they said, “We like you.” So we did 13 episodes of the show in the spring, and that was one of the big selling points in my application to GMA — I’ve pretty much been doing this all my life, and, most recently, really did it at a completely new level. I didn’t live with the people but I was with them in their homes for a week. It was people looking at divorce, kids not speaking to their parents, you name it. It was like the perfect training ground to be the advice guru for GMA.

TT: Do you have a sense of what your scope at GMA would be?

FH: Anything is open. Part of the contest right now is we are answering viewer questions. We’ve gotten things from, “My son is starting his own business living out of his car — what should I do?” to one where a kid just graduated from high school wanting to know how he should get ready for the next phase of his life. So it’s a spectrum. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of: “My husband doesn’t pay attention to me,” or “My wife is always nagging me.” 

TT: It sounds like, then, that you need to be a generalist.

FH: Yeah, exactly. Someone who’s too specific wouldn’t work. Just a relationship expert wouldn’t get it. When I look at my life in total, I think I’m like the perfect jambalaya. I’ve got the sports, I’ve got the corporate, I’ve got the life, I’ve got the fitness, the relationships. I’ve pretty much touched the main headings in our lives.

Watch a video of Fran that ran on GMA this week and read her application essay here.

Top photo courtesy of University of Texas Athletics Photography. Above photo courtesy of Fran Harris


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