This article originally appeared on NYDailyNews.com
Tradition and character mean a lot to Vivian Solomon, producer at the “Today” show, who was born and raised in Miami to Jewish Argentinian immigrants.
Solomon has been awarded four Emmys from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and an Edward R. Murrow award with Tamron Hall for “Today’s” “Shine A Light” series, which focused on domestic abuse survivors.
She was also nominated for a personal Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches — Daytime Entertainment where she oversaw the Today.com Show, an innovative behind-the-scenes simulcast.
Traditions and their importance were passed on early in life when Solomon’s family would travel to Buenos Aires to visit family.
“We would sit together after a meal to talk, catch up and make each other laugh. It’s called a ‘sobre mesa’ and it’s pretty special,” says Solomon.
“We grew up doing it in our home and then in Buenos Aires when we went to visit different family members. This happened in each home and I finally understood where the tradition came from.”
On her mother’s side of the family, the traditions that have stayed with her include food and holidays.
“My brother is a rabbi, so every once in a while we are in Boston for the high holidays and it’s always an honor and a treat to listen to his sermon in person. ”
And then there’s the food, which Solomon shares today with her husband and 2-year-old son, Jude — named after her husband’s mother Judy, who died away from pancreatic cancer.
“I make milanesa, breaded chicken cutlets, and can make a good tomato sauce too,” she says.
Born and raised in Miami, Solomon remembers not fitting in.
“I was friends with different groups of kids, but I definitely felt like I never fit in with one group 100%. I was always searching for someone like me, someone who celebrated Jewish holidays but also spoke Spanish at home and had parents who were immigrants.”
Today, Solomon speaks both Spanish and English at home.
“My parents made sure to remind me to answer questions in Spanish so I wouldn’t lose it. Now we speak Spanglish to each other, a mix of both since my parents speak English, too. In keeping with tradition, Jude has been learning to speak Spanish at home too.”
Solomon’s career began as a page at NBC in 2000. “The page program is a paid 12-month program where you start by giving studio tours of NBC and then you interview for short assignments on the different shows from SNL to the media relations department to the Thanksgiving Day Parade.’
“You don’t get each one that you try out for, but the idea is that you get to learn about the different opportunities at NBC.”
She then went on to answering phones at the front desk and worked her way up to her current role as a producer with “Today.”
Her advice to college graduates who are interested in working at “Today?”
“This is not a 9 to 5 job, there are no set times, so you really have to love what you are doing. Be prepared to work hard, make yourself available. No task is too small in the beginning. It’s all about teamwork.”
Among her favorite “Today” segments, Solomon lists traveling to England for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, attending concerts, interviewing celebrities, and even the taped segments that tell the stories of everyday people doing amazing things.
“All of these are fun in different ways. I really do get to see the world with this show and meet interesting people,” she says.
Solomon holds relationships — with both the people close to her and strangers on the street — in the highest regard. Growing up, her father repeated these words:”Lo cortés no quita lo valiente,” meaning that you don’t lose anything by being polite.
“My dad is all about saying hello to people when you get in an elevator and being friendly and polite regardless of who are dealing with. He doesn’t discriminate who he waves hello to — he even knows the homeless people on the street where he works. My brother and I joke that he is the mayor of downtown Miami, because as you walk down the street with him, he knows everyone by name.”
From her mother, the epic poem “El Gaucho Martín Fierro,” by Argentine writer Jose Hernandez, had a lasting impression. One passage in particular reminded her that she and her brother must always remain friends.
“Part of the poem is about siblings not letting anyone or anything get in the way of their connection. As I mentioned, family is important in both Hispanic and Jewish cultures, so even now my mom will check in and ask me, ‘Have you spoken to your brother recently?’
“She wants us to stay connected regardless of where we live and where we are in our lives.”