Jenna Bush Hager and her husband, Henry Chase Hager, in October. (Photo: Gary Gershoff/WireImage/Getty)Even after years of living in New York, Jenna Bush Hager says she's never strayed far from her Texas roots. Now, the daughter of former President George W. Bush once known for her party-hearty personality, will have a chance to let her Southern side shine as the editor at large of Southern Living magazine.
"I'm kind of like a homesick Texan living in New York," she told the New York Times. "I grew up reading this magazine. My mom had a subscription. It's something that I've always known about."
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She'll be contributing to the magazine's celebrity-news fueled "Paper Napkin Interview" column and blogging for them at The Daily South, where she'll also cross-post from The Novo Project, an inspirational blog she founded with her friend Mia Baxter.
Southern Living was launched in 1966 "to highlight the beauty and culture of the growing South," according to its publisher, Southern Progress Corporation (a subsidiary of Time, Inc.). Filled with easy-and-elegant decorating ideas, comfort cooking recipes, and soft-focused articles about the genteel and famous, it quickly became a staple for ladies who live below the Mason-Dixon line. The magazine's circulation has dipped slightly in recent years, with newsstand sales taking a harder hit, but the biggest issue they face is their aging audience -- the median age of Southern Living readers is 51.2 years old.
At just 31, Hager is a breath of fresh air -- and a chance to win over younger subscribers. But her age wasn't the only thing that made her an ideal candidate for the "Southern Living" job, explained Lindsay Bierman, editor in chief of Southern Living. A teacher's aide, blogger, and the author of two books, Hager also works as a correspondent for NBC's "Today Show," where she interviews her famous parents and grandparents for the show and also covers education about once a month, so she has plenty of experience to draw from.
"I did get the sense that her heart is still very much in the South," Bierman told The New York Times. "I felt her passion for the South was going to translate into what she would do for Southern Living."
Hagar has been quick to point out that her job with Southern Living will give her a chance to take on topics she hasn't tackled on television.
"There's a new generation of Southern women that I'd love to speak to," Hager said. "Entertaining and food and all the things that Southern Living does so well is something I don't do on the 'Today' show."