Hayley Platt excels at combining careers in motherhood and TV

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Hayley Platt was an all-around girl at Lakeridge High School. Now she is an all-around mom who happens to be a TV personality.

Hayley Platt was one of those people who had a difficult time figuring out what she wanted to do in life.

First she wanted to be an English teacher, like her mother and grandmother. Then she wanted to be a business woman in clothing retail sales. Later she was a stylist for a prominent photographer in San Francisco. She showed aptitude in all three careers. Platt had plenty of brains, looks, personality and education, but when the time came to make her big move forward she just couldn’t do it.

That is until one day ...

“I took a microphone in my hand and looked at the camera,” she said. “I said, ‘Hi, this is Hayley Platt.’ I just loved it. I never knew I wanted to be on TV or that I would be good at it. I didn’t know what I should do in my life until I held a microphone in my hand.”

Thus she became Hayley Platt, Portland television personality — pretty, perky, smart, funny and fast on her feet. Also a people lover. She had all the qualifications needed for TV as she went on to become a regular host on Studio 6, a popular lifestyle show on KOIN-TV.

However, Platt did have a career goal she’d had for a much longer time and it had never gone away, like the others. She wanted to be a mother.

Today, the Lake Oswego native and resident has the best of both worlds as a host for features on “Greater Portland Today” on KGW-TV and the mother of daughter Marley, 5, and son Weston, 3, who are beautiful, wonderful and also a handful. The common wisdom is that a woman on TV cannot have it all, but Platt’s friend Anne Jaeger thinks that Platt is pulling it off.

“Hayley balances it all so well,” said Jaeger, who along with Jenny Hansson, starred with Platt on Studio 6. “I think it is because deep down Hayley is a very kind and graceful person.”

A typical day for Pratt and her kids includes gym class, play dates, artwork, Legos and cleaning up messes. On one particular day she had to run out and buy a Monsters Inc. cake to celebrate Marley’s 5 and 1/2-year-old birthday.

“It seems I am always tired or running late,” Platt said. “My day always starts before I want it to. By 8:30, I’m ready for bed.”

While Platt delights in portraying the harried mom, she loves her life.

“I’m really lucky,” Platt said. “I’m able to work at KGW and get to be a mom 98 percent of the time. It’s a great job.”

Being on TV was never on the radar for Platt as she was growing up in Lake Oswego. Her life was full of people, including her three brothers, who all grew to be quite huge and now tower above their 5-foot-8-inch sister like Sequoia trees. At Lakeridge High School she played volleyball, was a cheerleader and choir member and performed with Company, the school’s song-and-dance troop. On the surface it was lots of fun, but it was a trying time in Platt’s life. She shudders a bit when reminiscing.

“I was not as comfortable in my own skin as I am now,” she said. “You couldn’t pay me to go back to being 16 years old.”

Platt’s life smoothed out a bit after she enrolled at the University of Oregon, except she could not find a career path that was truly satisfying. Meanwhile, she kept busy in a series of interesting jobs until fate paid her a visit one day.

“My whole career was an accident,” Platt said. “I was working in a dress shop in California and one day a woman came in and started talking to me.”

The two women were chatting away when the customer asked her, “Are you single?”

“I felt awkward,” Platt said. “I was going to tell her I was complimented, but it wasn’t my gig.”

The woman could tell what Platt was thinking by the expression on her face. She laughed and said no, she wasn’t going to ask her for a date. She was a television casting director, and she was looking for interesting personalities to appear on a program called “The Bachelor.” The format was to surround an eligible bachelor with lots of lovely young women and set them loose on silly adventures. It was a whole new concept.

To Platt it sounded odd but interesting: “I thought, ‘This will be fun. Why not?’”

Totally without her knowing it, Platt’s media career was launched. For “The Bachelor,” she received a screen test and a background check and moved into the ranks of 12 young ladies hoping to impress The Bachelor.

However, the bachelor did not impress Platt.

“I never hit it off with the bachelor,” Platt said. “He wasn’t a jerk; he was just boring.”

Considering her lack of chemistry with the bachelor, Platt was surprised she was kept on the show so long.

“I never even kissed him, but I stayed on the show week after week,” Platt said. “I was shocked I stayed so long. Maybe I was comic relief. I think they said, ‘Keep Hayley. She’s fun.’”

Meanwhile, the media back in Portland was going ga-ga over a native daughter who was on a hot new TV show. Platt was happy to go along for the ride.

“I was swarmed by television crews, newspapers and radio,” Platt said. “I was named the Portland Bachelor correspondent. This ridiculous show opened a lot of doors for me.”

Platt’s life would never be the same. When she returned to the Portland area she was called in to test for TV work and she passed with flying colors. Her life became cameras, microphones, meeting celebrities (Henry Winkler, Kyle MacLachlan, Ted Danson) and lots of viewers.

“I got lucky, and it clicked,” Platt said. “I just had fun.”

Jaeger doesn’t think Platt is giving herself enough credit.

“When Hayley auditioned for Studio 6 she was head and shoulders above everyone else,” Jaeger said. “She had never done anything like this before. There are so many aspects to being on television. I can’t even describe how many things go on behind the scenes. But Hayley caught on so quickly.

“I gave her tons of unsolicited advice, but she is such a natural she didn’t need it.”

The best part of all for Jaeger was the close friendship she formed with Platt.

“Every day I got to sit around a table with Hayley and Jenny and talk about our lives,” Jaeger said. “Getting to know her was a real gift for me.”

Perhaps her gift for friendship is Platt’s greatest gift. She is a friend of the entire cast of “The Bachelor” (except the bachelor), and she has kept many of her friends from her high school days.

Her best friend is her husband, Mark Platt. Their courtship is another funny and ironic story.

“I went to Lakeridge and Mark went to Lake Oswego High School, but we had never met,” Platt said. “I met Mark on a trip to London.”

Going by her past history, Hayley Platt’s life only figures to get more and more interesting.

Surely, there will be many pleasant surprises ahead.

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