From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Right after her 5 a.m. arrival at New York City's NBC studio each day, Today's Ann Curry eats a Hershey's Kiss. "I'm a chocoholic," she admits cheerfully, "and there's nothing I'm going to do about it."

Perhaps that morning fix accounts for how fantastic Curry, 41, looks despite the hour. "She's a very sexy lady first thing in the morning," reports colleague Matt Lauer, whom she succeeded at the news desk in early 1997. "I don't think she has to work at it very hard, either." She does work at it a little, though. "I owe my career," she says, "to concealer!"

As a high schooler in Ashland, Ore., one of several places she lived with dad Bob, a U.S. Navy officer, Japanese mom Hiroe and four younger siblings, the 5'6" Curry says she rarely felt pretty: "If you're of mixed race in this country, it's hard to embrace the idea of being beautiful." Now she sees things different. "What I love about how I look today," she says, "is that so many people from all different races think I'm part of their group."

When her face is in their living rooms, "it's necessary to have a look that's not going to distract from the words," she avers. To that end, says Deborah Roberts, a correspondent for ABC's 20/20 and wife of Today's Al Roker, Curry avoids flashy clothes and makeup "to a fault! I have to tell her she can wear bright colors and still be taken seriously."

No matter what she wears to work, Curry is in sweats by 2:30, when she's home in her Manhattan apartment with daughter McKenzie, 5, and son Walker, 3, her kids with husband Brian Ross, 42, a computer consultant. "I go straight to the sink and wash my face—twice," she says. "Then I put on moisturizer and lip balm, and I'm a mom."