The Talk’s Natalie Morales found happiness in daytime TV after leaving the Today show

Natalie Morales looks relaxed and at home as she hugs her co-hosts moments before going live for CBS The speech. The 50-year-old claps her hands and tries to dance in her high heels, clearly captivated by the excitement of the studio crowd.

“After so many years, I need laughter in my life. I’m so happy,” said Morales, who was announced today as the new CBS 48 hours corresponding.

As the cameras roll, Morales — who is the show’s first-ever Latina moderator — begins to come up with a variety of fun and hot topics to discuss, such as lottery winners and adorable dogs.

The mum-of-two told PEOPLE, “It’s so interesting because a friend of mine recently texted me, ‘Oh, I was watching the show and I see your personality a lot more now. The Natalie I know is what I see.”

She continued, “I love hearing that because when you’re at the news desk, you’re telling the story, but you’re never really personalizing or really saying, ‘This happened to me,’ necessarily.”

The Speech/Natalie Morales

Morales joined The speech on October 10, 2021, just 10 days after announcing the end of her tenure with NBC, where she served as a correspondent on Today, Deadline and Go to Hollywood.

RELATED: Natalie Morales Leaving NBC After 22 Years: ‘The Time Has Come’

She returned to the iconic NBC one last time Today Rockefeller Center studios in New York to sign on to the anchor office she once called home as the first Latina to co-host Today.

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“Dear viewers…from the minute I stepped in front of the camera and into your living rooms, I knew it was an honor to be a part of your morning tradition, the most sacred moment,” she said. . “With you, I had a front row seat to moments that captured our hearts, moments that I will forever cherish as a witness to history.”

Natalie Morales/Instagram

Natalie Morales/Instagram

Natalie Morales/Instagram

But with much lighter stuff than the serious news she covered for 22 years at Todayshe feels like home and finally shows who she really is The speech.

“You don’t have that opportunity [on a morning news show]”, she says. “You just give the facts, so people see a side where you can be vulnerable, where you can laugh and be hysterical, where you [are] almost cry on TV. It happened. It all happened to me in this last year of this show, so I think they see that this is the real Natalie. It’s not that they haven’t seen this before, but they see all the sides of me that I think being a news anchor didn’t necessarily allow me to be.”

RELATED: Natalie Morales explains why she left Today for The speech: ‘I needed a change’

Another perk of the new job is a later call time, which means she has more opportunities to bond with family.

Natalie Morales loses her stepdad

Natalie Morales loses her stepdad

Natalie Morales and her family

“I never have to get up at 3 a.m.,” jokes the Rutgers University alum. “If I have to get up at 3 a.m. it’s just to go to the bathroom. It’s so nice. I can go back to bed and sleep for another three, four hours. That’s, I think, the best part of all that.” Honestly, having more time with my family too because I don’t travel as much as I used to. I can be home.

She adds: “My kids are teenagers and going through a lot of the things teenagers do, so being there to make sure my youngest does his homework and being able to guide my oldest son through college has all been key. I’m lucky to have been able to do this for a year and a half, two years.

RELATED: Natalie Morales Makes Her House a Family Home

Natalie Morales

Natalie Morales

Cliff Lipson/CBS

RELATED: The speech Co-hosts detail fresh start after past seasons – and why they’re ‘clicking’

Not only is she excited to watch her children grow up, but she’s proud of the work she does to highlight her background during Hispanic Heritage Month.

On Tuesday, Morales — who is of Puerto Rican and Brazilian descent — will sit down for an in-depth interview with Camille Vazquez, another Latina and lead attorney for Johnny Depp.

“It was interesting, because here’s someone who became a superstar overnight, pretty much,” Morales said. “She went from attorney Camille Vasquez on the Johnny Depp case, but she was on the team of attorneys, [and went] being the one with eight billion views on TikTok and having the hashtag Camille for president be a trending thing. I think it’s extraordinary. She said to me, ‘I became famous just because I do my job.'”

The cast of Talk

The cast of Talk

The Speech / CBS

Morales has a lot to celebrate as she wraps up the show.

Not only is it soon to be his first birthday with The speechbut it has just been announced as 48 hours matching – all during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Morales – who grew up as an “air force brat” in Panama, Spain and Brazil – jokes that she could toast her latest accomplishments with a spicy margarita, but says to PEOPLE: “I’m not a fan of birthdays, only because I believe in longevity. I don’t look at a year, I look at 10 years. So ask me for my 10th birthday, ‘How are you going to celebrate it?’ Then I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to have a party.’

The cast of Talk

The cast of Talk

The Speech / CBS

For now, she has her sights set on the immediate future. “I am very much looking forward to expanding my role at CBS by contributing to the various news platforms and true crime pioneer 48 hours“, she said. “It is an honor to join some of the best journalists, and I look forward to continuing to tell the important stories of our time.”

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The speech airs weekdays at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

Karl M. Bailey