Robin Roberts on Weathering the Pandemic with Her Longtime Partner Amber Laign: 'We've Never Been Stronger'

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an undeniably challenging time, but Robin Roberts has used the extra time at home as an opportunity to strengthen her relationship with longtime love Amber Laign.

"We're going on 16 years now," the Good Morning America anchor, 60, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue of her relationship with Laign, 46. "We spent more time together this past year than in the previous 15 years combined. We've never been stronger."

Friends of Roberts and Laign, a massage therapist, set the pair up on a blind date in 2005. They kept their romance private until 2013, when Roberts came out in a Facebook post.

And as we've all remained in closer quarters than ever for the past year, the Mississippi native says she's truly learned the value of patience.

"I remember when I packed up part of my dressing room here [in New York City] and headed home to Connecticut a year ago [when the pandemic started]. I'm glad I packed a lot of patience," Roberts says. "Didn't pack much clothes, but I packed patience. That's what I really learned this past year — being patient, understanding what is really important, and that I don't have to be on the hamster wheel all the time. I don't have to get on a plane."

Roberts continues, "I hate that saying, 'Stay in the moment,' but it forced me to do that. I'm grateful."

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The broadcast journalist is also exceptionally grateful for the Good Morning America staff, who have kept the ABC morning show chugging along.

"I was [home in Connecticut] for seven months broadcasting Good Morning America from my basement until September. I came back here, to the studio, in the fall," she recalls. "I have to say, I am just amazed at our entire staff: people who are still at home, the producers, the editors, being so creative in finding a way. People were looking to us even more so for some normalcy. So much around them was changing, and they wanted some things to stay the same."

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Roberts has also busied herself with other projects, including executive-producing the upcoming Lifetime biopic about gospel legend and civil rights activist Mahalia Jackson, starring Orange Is the New Black alum Danielle Brooks.

"I remember Mahalia always playing in the house [when I was growing up]. … Her voice is so angelic," Roberts says. "I just really wanted people to know the full story about her. We know that she could sing. She is the queen of gospel, but she was a businesswoman, and she was all about civil rights."

Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.


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