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SR International: Lauren Sanchez Talks Blending Families, Her First Flight To Space And More Since Going Public With Jeff Bezos

SR International: Lauren Sanchez Talks Blending Families, Her First Flight To Space And More Since Going Public With Jeff Bezos

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There are helicopter parents, and then there are parents who helicopter. Lauren Sanchez, who reportedly has a net worth of $30 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, happens to be both. The Emmy-winning TV host–turned–helicopter pilot, who became a well-known name when her relationship with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was made public in January 2019, is recounting the time she did a surprise fly-by of her son’s football practice when he was in high school. “I texted his friend to tell him, ‘Look up!’” Sánchez says. And there she was, waving from a chopper above the field. “He was like, ‘Mom, you’re embarrassing me!’ But he secretly thinks I’m cool, I know it.”

On a recent day, Sánchez, 53, is piloting in a Bell 429 helicopter at 1,200 feet above sea level. She heads from the Santa Monica Airport up the shore of the Pacific Ocean and then over Beverly Hills toward the Hollywood sign. Traffic control prohibits going below 900 feet near the Microsoft Theater because Vice President Kamala Harris is swearing in L.A.’s first female mayor, Karen Bass, and the Secret Service declares it a no-fly zone.

When Sánchez creeps up to Mount Lee near Beachwood Canyon, she squares off her aircraft next to the famous signage for the perfect selfie angle. “Did you get the shot?” she asks me over her shoulder, zooming past Lake Hollywood Park. “If not, I can go around again.”

Midair is an inspiring space for Sánchez, and Bezos too. Their romance blossomed on helicopter rides she piloted. “This is one of the only places I feel entirely in control,” Sánchez says. Bezos founded aerospace company Blue Origin, which provides manufacturing and suborbital spaceflight services, in 2000, and was onboard its first crewed mission on July 20, 2021. Blue Origin’s motto is “For the benefit of Earth.” Bezos was in a helicopter crash in 2003 and credits Sánchez with getting him comfortable in the air again. He’s currently in the process of getting his own pilot’s license.

Sánchez and Bezos, who respectively have three children and four children from their prior relationships, share a historic Beverly Hills house built by Hollywood founding father Jack Warner, which Bezos bought from media mogul David Geffen for a then-record-setting $165 million in 2020. (The couple has other homes, including one in Seattle, where Bezos founded Amazon in 1994, and another in Washington, D.C., where the Washington Post, which he bought for $250 million in 2013, is based.) “On a typical Saturday, we hang out, we have dinner with the kids, which is always fun because you never know where the conversation is going to go with this many kids,” Sánchez says. “We are the Brady Bunch!”

Here are a few things Lauren Sanchez revealed to WSJ. Magazine…

Sánchez on her and partner Jeff Bezos doing everything together:

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There they are entwined in front of the Taj Mahal, hiking with King Charles in Scotland, chatting with Leonardo DiCaprio at the LACMA gala, receiving a philanthropy award at the Vatican. They even work out together. “He stole my trainer!” she says of Wes Okerson, who pops up occasionally on her Instagram. “Jeff is extremely dedicated to his workouts. I mean, you have no idea. He really puts in the work.”

Sánchez on leaving school at 18 to move to Los Angeles to be a flight attendant at Southwest airlines:

The only problem: She was told she was too heavy. “Back then, they weighed you, and I weighed 121 pounds,” she says of a mandatory weigh-in at Southwest Airlines she failed in 1989. “They said, ‘You need to be 115.’” (Weight restrictions for flight attendants were common practice throughout the airline industry at that time.) She knows what she would tell them if this happened now: “I don’t want to be a stewardess. I want to be the pilot!”

Sánchez on her dyslexia:

“I cry every time I tell this story: I got tested [for learning differences] and [the teacher said], ‘You’re not dumb. You’re just dyslexic. Let me give you tools on how to write,’” she says. The teacher gave Sánchez a pocket dictionary, which she kept with her at all times. “It changed my life. I went from barely a 2.0 student to the dean’s list and got a scholarship to USC.”

Sánchez on her first taste of Hollywood:

Her first taste of Hollywood came at age 28 in a small role as a TV reporter in 1999’s Fight Club. Sánchez’s cameo features her doing a breaking news segment on underground boxing clubs for the local news. “Jared Leto calls me hot—I peaked!” she says, laughing.

Sánchez on testing to be an anchor on ABC’s The View (the spot went to Lisa Ling):

She bonded with Barbara Walters, the show’s creator, but says she clashed with Star Jones, an original cast member. She says Jones later apologized, and they’ve since made up. (Jones did not respond to a request for comment.) The seat ultimately went to journalist Lisa Ling. “It was one of the most devastating days of my life,” Sánchez says, adding that Walters personally called to say she didn’t get the job and that she cried for days. “It turned out to be a good thing because I wouldn’t have had Nikko,”

“Everything happens for a reason,” she says.

Sánchez on one of her heroes, Barbara Walters:

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“She really helped me with my career. Not only as someone I looked up to, but really guided me when I was up for The View,” Sánchez says via text after Walters died in December. “Producers were trying to make me dress extra conservative and she saw me and said, ‘What happened?’ She said, ‘They will try and make you ordinary. Don’t let them. Then, if you fail, at least you fail as yourself.’ I never forgot that.” Lauren Sanchez Net Worth

Sanchez on her first children’s book, Flynn, The Fly Who Flew, publishing later this year:

The plotline landed literally in front of her. “I was in the helicopter, and there was a fly,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, look, a fly who flew! This is such a great children’s book. And it stuck.’ Except now it’s a rocket [in the book].” The book’s hero travels around Earth before—spoiler alert—being reunited with his family. “I hope that a reader, especially children, will see that if you wander and explore, you never know what you’ll discover. You shouldn’t stay in one place. Don’t be typical.”

Sánchez on leading an all-female mission to outer space on Blue Origin by early 2024:

“It’s going to be women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send,’” she says of the five women joining her, who won’t be revealed until nearer the launch date. One person who won’t be joining them is Bezos. “As much as he wants to go on this flight, I’m going to have to hold him back,” she says with a smile. “He’ll be cheering us all on from the sidelines.”

“I’m super excited about it. And a little nervous. I’ve wanted to be in the rocket from the jump, so [Bezos] is excited to make this happen with all of these women. It’s funny what he said the other day: “Fly fast; take chances.” That’s his motto. He’s very encouraging and excited, and he’s thrilled we’re putting this group together.”

Sánchez on what sparked her love of flying:

“The only thing I knew was to stay away from the prop.” She walked into an L.A. flight school and signed up for classes in 2011. “I get this, like, 25-year-old, gorgeous instructor, and I was like, ‘I’m paying attention now,’” Sánchez says.
“Yes. I love it. What’s different now is that I really know how to fly.”

Sánchez on why she founded Black Ops Aviation, one of the first female-owned aerial film and production companies with a focus across television and film:

“Because there were no females doing it! Less than nine percent of pilots are women. That’s it! Of that percentage, even less are helicopter pilots. How many women pilots do you see in every movie? What do you see? You see male pilots. And so [women] don’t realize that they can do it.”

“I don’t know why more women don’t do it,” she says. Sánchez often pilots Bezos and their families around the world and tries to get in the cockpit at least three times a week to stay up to date on instruments.

Sánchez on how women react when they find out she’s a pilot:

“They’re shocked! They’re like, “What? You’re such a badass!” And I want to say it’s really not that hard. I do want more women to get involved in it. DB: You worked as an aerial consultant on projects like Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and produced a lot of the promotional footage for companies like Blue Origin”

Sánchez on her new production company, Adventure & Fellowship:

“I’m starting a production company, Adventure & Fellowship. [The projects] don’t have to have any aerial elements. That’s just the spice! We’ve been doing all of the videos that come out for Blue Origin, the Bezos Earth Fund, Bezos Academy. People don’t realize that. For the Courage & Civility awards, I did the interviews with [2021 recipients] Van [Jones] and José [Andrés] and [2022 recipient] Dolly [Parton].

“We’re focusing on great stories. They can be movies, commercials, documentaries,” she says. “Everyone has an incredible story and sometimes they don’t have anyone to tell it.”

Sánchez on The Courage & Civility awards:

“[Recipients] are people who have the courage to make change in the world but do it with civility. On Twitter, what gets seen? Conflict. We want to shine a light on people [who] are doing really good things with civility and go, “This is what will get you attention. This is what will make a really incredible difference.” Not all the other stuff that’s just noise and mean.”

“Jeff and I think [civility] is what’s missing in the world right now. Everything’s driven by negativity or conflict,” she says. “When we called [Parton] two weeks before [the award announcement], she goes, ‘Is this real? Did you say $100 million?’ She couldn’t believe it.”

Sánchezon the terms for the $100 million grants:

“We have an incredible team that helps us narrow down [the finalists], but Jeff and I are the ones who are making the final decision. The only limitation is that they have to give [the $100 million] away within 10 years, and it has to be to charity with 501c [certification].”

Sánchez on this year’s winner, Dolly Parton:

“She’s incredible! Big hair, tiny waist, big boobs. She owns it. When we were doing research on her, I found a Barbara Walters interview from [1977]. Barbara looked at all this hair and makeup [and asked], I’m paraphrasing: “Do you ever think that people might look at you as a joke?” [Parton] goes, “Absolutely not. I love it. And I think people know that I’m authentic to myself.” And I thought, that’s civility. She was able to handle herself when she was being criticized. And never changed.”

Sánchez on not being surprised by Bezos decision to give away the bulk of his wealth:

“Jeff has always told me, since I’ve known him, that he’s going to give the majority of his money to philanthropy.”

“Not surprising to me at all. He just never felt the need to have to say it.”

Sánchez on what it’s like to work with Bezos on their philanthropic initiatives:

“It’s the greatest experience I’ve ever had. I’ve always had a career very separate from my partner. I think now that I can work with my partner and be with him all the time…. We love to be together and we love to work together. He’s helping me with the book. He’s getting his pilot’s license. We fly together. We work out together. We’re together all the time.”

Sánchez on the best advice Jeff Bezos has given her:

“Living with Jeff is like having a master class every day. What he’s really taught me a lot about is management. Biggest pieces of advice? I hold a lot of meetings and I would talk first in a meeting and he goes, “No, no, no. You’re the boss. You talk last. You let everyone else talk so that they don’t get swayed by your opinion.” Keep meetings under an hour if you can. I don’t know how he does it; he can read documents for hours. Another thing he taught me is: If you’re going to have a meeting, have the person running the meeting write a document about what you’re going to discuss and why. And it can’t be more than six pages.”

Sánchez on her passion for philanthropy:

“Right now, I’m immersing myself in philanthropy and strategic giving. Elsa Collins, the co-founder of This Is About Humanity, told me about her cause and asked if we wanted to contribute. So I said, “OK, let’s go to the border. Let’s check it out.” I went there and literally it broke my heart. Every kid deserves to have dignity and respect, and they have these kids in these little cells without their moms and dads. It’s just not OK. [This Is About Humanity] is making sure that while they’re there they have basic essentials, diapers, books, clothing, sleeping bags. I mean, these kids have nothing, and they’re just waiting there.”

Sánchez on how they target their donations:

“You want to give money away and you want to know that it’s helping people and it’s going to continue to help people, and that it’s going to the right places. You could give it not-strategically. You can just give it away! But, we take it seriously. Like the Bezos Academy: This is [a network of tuition-free, Montessori-inspired pre-schools] for kids that can’t afford it and they’re getting a complete free education.”

Sánchez on investing in Climate as vice chair of the Bezos Earth Fund, meeting with world leaders to discuss fighting climate change:

“We recently went to Gabon. We took a boat and saw elephants in the jungle that you can actually pull up next to and they won’t run. They don’t know what being hunted is like. We need to preserve that. People think about the good old days…. Everything has improved since the ’50s: education, health care, all of those things. Except nature; that’s the one thing that is not better. The head of the Bezos Earth Fund [founded in 2020] is Andrew Steer, and he’s brilliant and has been in the climate space forever. Jeff and I have meetings with him every week and we talk about what’s new.”

Sánchez on the biggest hurdle with combating climate change:

“With climate, you may not know for five, 10 years. Some things may not work and some things will. Scientists, leaders, and people like Jeff are really trying to figure this out. This is the decisive decade. This is the decade we need to figure this out. It’s the coolest it’s ever going to be. Think about that.” Lauren Sanchez Net Worth

Sánchez on how she and Bezos successfully blended their families:

“My greatest example is the relationship I have with my eldest son’s father, Tony [Gonzalez]. I learned how to co-parent with him, so I have more experience than Jeff might have. Tony and his wife [October “Tobie” Gonzalez] are my best friends. It wasn’t always that way. There was friction [at the beginning]. But Tony and Tobie were at Thanksgiving with us [this year], and we’re really good friends.
“That took about five years, but we always communicated. I’m not saying that being best friends with your ex is the end-all-be-all. But you do need to be able to communicate. I’m so proud of it. My son looks at me, and he’s like, “I’m the luckiest boy in the world because I can have Thanksgiving with both my parents and they don’t have to be married.”

Sánchez on learning about privacy since being in a high-profile relationship:

“It’s hard. I’m a very open person. I talk a lot. I like to tell all my secrets. I have had to learn that I can’t do that. It’s a good lesson. [I used to] say stuff to people and no one would care!”

Sánchez on whether she has to catch herself:

“All the time. I want to tell everyone everything. I want everyone to be my friend! I learned how to not give the location of where I’m at. I can’t Instagram things that I normally would before. I have to be more private, a little more controlled, and that’s fine.”

Sánchez on the most bizzare thing she’s read about herself:

“Nothing shocks me anymore. One time it was [reported] that we left our passport somewhere, and we sent a plane to get our passports. It was such a ridiculous story. [We’ll also read] that we’re somewhere and we’re not even there. We’ll get a text from our family: “I can’t believe you guys are in New York and you didn’t tell us.” And I have to tell them, “We’re not there.”

Sánchez on what people may be surprised to learn about her:

“I think everyone kind of knows everything about me. I’m sort of all out there. I think people don’t realize how important being a mom is to me, because I don’t put it on social media, but it’s my most important job.”

Sánchez on what people would be most surprised to learn about Jeff Bezos:

“That he’s really funny? He makes me laugh all the time. He can be goofy.”

Sánchez on Bezos’s distinctive laugh:

“Yes, but that laugh makes me smile. When I first heard his laugh, I was like, “Whoa! What is that?” Now I love it. And if I’m at a party and we get separated, all I have to do is wait a second and he laughs and it’s like, he’s over there. He’s so happy, he inspires me every day, he makes me a better person every day; he’s the most loving human I know.”

Sánchez on a typical day in the couple’s life:

“Every Sunday morning, Jeff makes pancakes. He wakes up early. He gets the Betty Crocker cookbook out every time, and I’m like, “OK, you’re the smartest man in the world; why don’t you have this memorized yet?” But he opens it up every time: Exact portions make the best pancakes in the world.” Lauren Sanchez Net Worth

Read the full article here.

Images: Daniel Jack Lyons for WSJ. Magazine


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