Journalist. Actor. Comedian. Author. Screenwriter. Rhodes Scholar. Mom.
Faith Salie has no shortage of titles.
The 1989 graduate of North Springs High School has made a name for herself as an Emmy-winning contributor on “CBS News Sunday Morning” and a panelist on NPR quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!”
Salie wrote a book called “Approval Junkie,” which she adapted into an Off-Broadway play. She’s appeared on popular TV shows from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” to “Sex and the City.” She’s hosted podcasts and TV shows, interviewed a variety of celebrities, and written articles for top publications including The New York Times.
“I still pinch myself that I get to do what I do,” said Salie, 50, a Harvard grad and Rhodes Scholar who now lives in New York City.
She will return to Atlanta on March 3 for the first live taping of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” at the Fox Theatre since the pandemic.
“I’ve been on ‘Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!’ for 13 years, and I still feel like I’m getting to like jump on stage with The Beatles and just shake a little tambourine in the background,” Salie said. “It’s such an honor and so much fun to be part of that show.”
Childhood in Sandy Springs
Salie spent her childhood in Sandy Springs, from age 6 to 18.
“Those are the years that you know, formed me,” she said. “Those are my coming-of-age years.”
Performing came naturally to her.
“I don’t mean to brag, but I got the lead in the fourth-grade play at Woodland Elementary,” Salie said. “I think it’s because I could speak loudly and memorize well … And I loved it. It felt easy and fun to me.”
By middle school, she knew it was her calling. She was especially inspired by seeing plays at the Alliance Theatre in Midtown. “I would sit in the audience at the Alliance Theatre in awe and also just feel pulled, like pulled from my chest and my heart,” she said.
Years later, in 2019, her solo show “Approval Junkie” would make its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre, which Salie described as an “incredible, full circle moment.”
As a young person, Salie also performed with the Atlanta Workshop Players, a nonprofit performing arts company that today is based at Brandon Hall School in Sandy Springs. Salie called Lynn Stallings, the executive director of Atlanta Workshop Players, her theater mentor.
“That’s where I discovered and honed my improv comedy chops,” Salie said. “It was a safe place to work things out and be completely silly and find respect.”
The dish on “Wait Wait”
Salie said she takes her role kind of seriously on “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” She’s been one of the rotating panelists alongside host Peter Sagal for over a decade.
“We make jokes about the week’s news and it’s a quiz show, but really it doesn’t matter who wins.”
But then she said in a whisper: “Unless I’m playing, because I really care. Everyone knows I care and mocks me for it … I am Hermione Granger. I study, study, study the day of the show and want to get every question right, because I am the world’s biggest nerd.”
She said the show is almost all improvised, except for one segment.
“There’s one part of the show called Bluff the Listener,” Salie said. “We do write that ourselves. We do get the topics for that the night before the show.”
On Bluff the Listener, the panelists read three stories, and the listener must guess which is true.
Her best to date? Saying that William Shatner, the “Star Trek” legend, was launching a line of adult diapers called Star Pantz.
Per a recording, Salie said: “If you live long and prosper, you’re going to Shatner your pants. Oh, and the diaper slogan — it is, of course, Star Pantz — to boldly go.”
Salie said she is currently pitching a podcast about Stone Mountain and its controversial Confederate carving.
“It’s such a complicated place,” she said. “Believe it or not, people that don’t live in Georgia have never heard of Stone Mountain. And when you explain to them that it’s the largest piece of exposed granite on Earth, and P.S. it’s the largest monument to white supremacy on Earth. And it’s a park and they do a laser show?”
Salie said she’s drawn telling the story of Stone Mountain, especially at a time when people are reconsidering monuments and memorials that display a racist past.
“So, to sort of dig into what Stone Mountain was, why it was created and what it means now is a cool way to look at where we are in American history. What do we want to teach our children?” she said.
Salie also has several stories in the works for “CBS News Sunday Morning.” She hosts other podcasts, including Broadway Revival and Real Good. She’s working on a proposal for her next book, and of course, busy raising her two kids.
“If you saw me right now, like sitting amidst clutter in my cramped, two-bedroom New York City apartment, and you know, my hair is in a scrunchie. And you wouldn’t think it all looks amazing,” she said with a chuckle. “But I’m trying really hard to raise good citizens of the world who are progressive, feminist, open-hearted, grateful children.”