“I wanted to go somewhere where I would be handed 60 files on my first day and be told ‘go to it,’” Severna Park resident Elizabeth Werner said adamantly.
Werner’s strong work ethic has led her to pronounced success, first in the field of law in New York City and then to the production rooms of QVC, “The View,” “Fox & Friends” and CNN.
After graduating from Brooklyn Law School at 25 years old, Werner dove into a gratifying career working in both the federal and state sectors within employment and contract law. “I loved the process of bringing people together to come to an agreement,” Werner explained.
The current hot topic of gender biases in the workplace was in full force when Werner was paving out her career. “The men all came in and one of them said, ‘Excuse me, young lady, can you please go get us some coffee?’ They were talking about the case in front of me as if I wasn’t in the room,” Werner said, reflecting on one of her first cases she handled as an attorney.
Amid these obstacles, Werner made a name for herself in New York City until her then husband’s career brought the couple to Maryland.
Patiently waiting for her Maryland bar exam results, Werner was asked to present and speak on behalf of her husband’s company, 180, on QVC.
Intrigued by the idea of trying something new, she accepted and headed to the studios not knowing what to expect or say about the ear warmers and gloves she was instructed to showcase.
“There was no training, no makeup, hair salon or cue cards,” Werner recalled. “They just shove you in front of a camera!”
Werner’s experience with public speaking in courtrooms groomed her for this new endeavor. “It was way less intimidating than talking to a judge!” she exclaimed.
After each taping, manufacturer executives would approach her and throw their business cards in her purse, begging her to represent their company’s products.
“Within a month, I had a huge stack of cards and thought ‘this could be my next job,’” Werner said. A mother of a 2-year-old at the time, she thought this could be a career more conducive to parenting.
Werner took the risk and pioneered a role in reviewing toys on television, eventually leading her to booking opportunities on national television.
Werner’s fresh perspective and talent was immediately contagious; along with freelance contracting with toy manufacturers, she started coaching product executives on how to present their products to be more desirable.
“You need to be more of a dad than an executive,” Werner said as she prepped John Barber, then Toys “R” Us president, before appearing on “The View.”
Impressed with her coaching on set, the producer of “The View” asked why she didn’t do this herself. “Well actually, I do. I’m on QVC hundreds of times a year. I’m their child and lifestyle expert,” explained Werner.
“She dropped her jaw saying, ‘Wow, you’re on QVC? I’m obsessed with QVC. I’m absolutely obsessed. It’s the only production I know that’s live production, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,’” Werner described of the producer’s reaction.
This was her big break.
“Once I appeared on ‘The View,’ it was a blink before I was on iVillage, the ‘Today’ show - all the other shows started calling,” she said. Accustomed to recording live on the first take, she had to adapt to rehearsing when she appears on other shows.
Challenges like frequent travel, working nights and being self-critical toward her TV image are minimal compared to her love for the career she’s created over the past 19 years and the family she’s found at QVC.
Although her career made a sharp turn into the toy industry, she leans on the skillset she cultivated in law school daily: communication, public speaking, research and working independently.
“You spend years pursuing something. … I was really passionate about law; but when this opportunity fell right in front of me, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be silly if I didn’t try?’”
Werner has inspired her daughter with this same open, resilient mindset and hopes her story will have the same effect on others.