NEW YORK — Alex Wagner grew up immersed in politics in Washington, D.C., where her late father, Carl Wagner, advised such Democrats as Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy. As she recently recalled over a pot of ginger tea, he'd sit by the phones at night waiting for poll numbers, answering calls with a gruff "Give me the numbers!"

But she followed a circuitous path to political journalism. In her 20s, she focused on music, working as editor of the hipster magazine the Fader, but in 2007 the so-called Saffron Revolution in her mother's native country, Myanmar, stirred a desire to be "more engaged with the world."

After stints as executive director of George Clooney's anti-genocide organization Not On Our Watch and a White House correspondent for Politics Daily, in 2011 Wagner landed her own MSNBC show, "Now With Alex Wagner," despite being a TV newbie. "We had no idea what the hell we were doing," she said of the show, canceled in 2015. "But I probably had some success in my career because I haven't overthought it and I've been like, well, we'll figure it out."

The 40-year-old is keeping busy with two new projects arriving this month. She's now joined John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon as a co-host on the third season of "The Circus," replacing Mark Halperin, who was accused of sexually harassing multiple women during a previous job at ABC. Wagner considers "The Circus," Showtime's behind-the-scenes political docuseries, "the most ambitious television program on the air." She's also got a memoir, "Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging," exploring her mixed-race identity and complicated ancestry.

Q: There's so much news out of Washington these days. What story lines do you think you'll be following closely this season on "The Circus"?

A: The Mueller investigation is huge. It could refashion the landscape of American politics in ways that no one can imagine. Or it could be nothing. The midterms could be the most consequential election of my lifetime in terms of the implications of what happens if the Democrats take back the House or Senate. And I'm really interested in the grass roots, what's happening with Trump's base, what's happening with the Democratic base. We know there's a historic number of women running. And even what we've seen in the wake of Parkland, how young people are really engaged and maybe reshaping dialogues we thought were long since established.

Q: You appeared in a few episodes of "The Circus" during the presidential campaign. What appealed to you about joining the show full time?

A: It's important to get out into the field and not only talk to voters but see how the campaigns operate. As someone who sat in the anchor chair for a number of years, it's a whole different experience and a whole different muscle group. The few weeks I was on the road with "The Circus" were really illuminating, and I think absolutely made me a better journalist. The Trump presidency is like nothing we've ever seen before. It feels really urgent. So it was not a hard sell to ask me to come on to co-host. I'm very worried about the sleep that I'm going to miss and the fact that I have an 8-month-old (son, Cy) at home. Mr. Mom, my husband (former White House chef Sam Kass), will be playing a large role.

Q: You are one of several women in the news media taking over for men accused of misconduct. How does it feel to be part of this bigger change? Do you feel like this show in particular will benefit from your perspective?

A: I think having a diverse set of voices is always good. I think gender is on the front burner in a way it hasn't been ever. It's great they're bringing a woman of color into the show. I certainly never watched the show and said they're missing a critical piece, but it's fantastic they're broadening their talent. As to the large question of this #MeToo moment, it is unfortunate that the circumstances had to be what they were to bring this moment about, but I'll take change in whatever package that comes in. It's unfortunate it has to be a result of what it was, but right on to my fellow sisters.

Q: Your predecessor, Mark Halperin, and other members of the political press were criticized for what some saw as sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Do you think that's fair?

A: I think when you have an industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by one gender and one race, there is necessarily going to be bias whether intentional or unintentional. I don't think there was malice, necessarily, but politics is a story and one's interpretation of that story is informed by one's background. And Hillary Clinton was a first. She was the closest a woman has ever come (to the presidency). I think there was a lot of expectation. There was a lot of baggage. We probably should have been asking ourselves more pointed questions. Is the coverage fair? Are we paying enough attention to the gender dynamics here? We need to be more inclusive. Not just because it feels good, but the coverage will be better and the fourth estate will benefit overall.

Q: Is there anyone in politics you're dying to interview for "The Circus"?

A: Steve Bannon. There are a lot of parts about Steve Bannon that are worthy of investigation, but he has a sixth sense for American politics and it is borne of deep conviction and philosophy. I always want to interview John Boehner. Especially now where he's just drinking merlot and smoking. He's a fascinating figure in American politics. He represents the split of the old Republican Party with the new. And Melania. Knowing I'll never get it, but she has an incredible story. Someday, I hope she'll tell it _ to me, or anybody. There's a lot to unpack there.