For Joanna Gagis, a good night’s sleep and a strong cup of coffee are must-haves before filming Life & Living, which airs on NJTV and FiOS1. Raised in New Jersey, Gagis’ long-standing affinity for the Garden State has helped shape the influential lifestyle segment. A production of Emmy Award-winning anchor Steve Adubato’s Caucus Educational Corporation, Life & Living delves into the unique culture, style, activities and spirit of New Jerseyans.
“We realized we had an opportunity to showcase New Jersey in a whole new way,” says Gagis. “I’m a Jersey girl, so I connect to these stories on a very personal level.”
Besides uncovering distinctive aspects and secrets of many New Jersey destinations including Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township and Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, Gagis interviews notable state celebrities such as Stephen Colbert and Patrick Wilson. She revels in helping residents enjoy all that New Jersey has to offer. HudsonMOD had the opportunity to speak with her about her electrifying ventures and what she’s learned so far during her time with Life & Living.
Q: What’s been your favorite segment to film and why?
A: Wow, it’s so hard to choose! I absolutely love when I get to highlight a New Jersey destination that offers a unique experience, like Crystal Springs Golf Resort’s biosphere pool for winter bathing, or a wedding at The Venetian, or Grounds for Sculpture’s gorgeous botanical gardens and sculpture. These places really define the character of this state.
Q: Why do you feel that highlighting community service on your segment is so important?
A: Part of the fabric of New Jersey is our deep sense of community. Too often the media portrays us poorly, so it’s incredibly important that we highlight those who are feeding the hungry or supporting the sick. By sharing these examples of service, we’ll hopefully inspire our viewers to get involved.
Q: What charity sticks out in your mind the most?
A: I’m blown away by Oasis in Paterson, an organization that’s breaking the cycle of poverty by educating women. In addition to offering job-readiness classes, they offer childcare, provide two hot meals a day plus clothing and essentials like diapers, and run after-school and weekend programs. I was so inspired by the personal stories of families whose lives were changed forever that I now serve as an associate board member.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from watching your segment?
A: I hope they learn something they didn’t know and are entertained and inspired in the process. Whether it’s a celebrity designer, a winemaker, yoga instructor or the family of an organ donor, I want our viewers to be able to connect with the stories we tell. I want them to be moved to the point of action.
Q: What does luxury mean to you?
A: With a toddler and baby at home, luxury is a day at the spa! But, luxury also has meant a vacation in a gorgeous hotel, dining at the best restaurants and exploring a part of this world that I’ve never seen before. Doing that, to me, is a ‘life well lived.’