I speak to students about what I do pretty often and some of the most common questions I get revolve around celebrities. “Have you ever interviewed someone famous?“ Who is the most famous person you have ever interviewed?” So I figured I would spill the beans on my experiences with interviewing celebrities.
HOW TO LAND A CELEBRITY INTERVIEW
Option 1: I find contact info & use it
In local news, there aren’t always a lot of opportunities to interview celebrities in person. And sorry to let you guys down, but there’s no formula for landing an interview with a celebrity. For celebrities with local ties like the Queen of Bounce Big Freedia, I simply went to his website dug up some contact info and sent an email. His people replied and we made it happen.
Option 2: It falls in my lap
When I interviewed Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show on CBS, WWL was told to fly one of their anchors to Dallas to interview him. It was right before his show was going to start airing on CBS. Management chose to send me. My mentor, Soledad O'Brien, also hooks me up with great interview opportunities that have nothing to do with my news anchor job.
Option 3: A producer makes it happen
In many cases, the celebrity’s PR person sends an email saying the person will be available and a producer books them. My producer for “The 504,” Caegan Moore, is great about keeping an eye out for who might be in town and trying to contact them to let them know we would like to interview them. This is why it is important to have a great producer on your team. They have a huge impact on the quality of interviews that you end up with.
FAMOUS PEOPLE COME WITH DO’S & DON’TS
When I interviewed the ladies of daytime talk show “The Real,” it was a huge deal that Tamar Braxton had just left the show. But their people communicated to my producer that we weren’t allowed to ask anything about that. It is not uncommon for celebs to come with certain topics that are off limits.
THEY ARE USUALLY ON TIGHT SCHEDULES
When I interview someone, I like to talk to that person off camera even if it’s just for a few minutes, before we start the actual interview. I like to hear from them about what they want to discuss and get a sense of their personality so that our conversation seems more genuine. Famous people tend to have less time to hang around for an interview. Sometimes they are whisked in the door, sit down for a five minute interview, snap a picture, and then they are out the door for their next appearance. There isn’t always time to get a natural conversation going before the camera starts rolling.
MY FAVORITE CELEBRITY INTERVIEW SO FAR…
Alright so back to the question all the kids have….Who has been my favorite interview so far? Picking my favorite interview subject is like picking a favorite child for me. I appreciate everyone who sits down for a conversation with me, and I enjoy them all for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because the person made me laugh, or I learn something, or it was so bad that it was memorable. I had a blast interviewing the ladies of "The Real" and I had been a huge fan of them for different reasons before they had the show. But if I have to pick one favorite, it’s Big Freedia for several reasons. One- because he was so willing to come on and support a local show even though he is national and big time! Two -because he has treated me like a friend from the first time we met. He is a genuine soul, with tons of talent who remains humble and generous even as his success grows.
FAMOUS PEOPLE ON MY LIST OF DREAM INTERVIEWS:
When it comes to my list of dream interviews, the list is long. I’ll share my top 5:
1. Wendy Williams
I am slightly obsessed with her. I have been to her show in New York and sat in the audience like a crazy fan. She cracks me up, and I dream of having a national talk show like hers one day.
2. Malala Yousafzai
I am also a huge fan of Malala! She’s the Pakistini girl who was shot in the head at 15 years old by the Taliban because she was an activist for female education. She survived and continues her mission. As a bookworm who believes in the power of education, I admire her bravery in fighting for something that was just handed to me as an American. That girl is everything.
In my head, when I get my big national talk show, Adele will be my guest and we will sing “Hometown Glory” together. She is my favorite singer and her music touches my soul. I need to sit down and learn the story behind all of her tracks. Her lyrics are epically relatable.
4. Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom is the author of “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” It’s one of my favorite books.
5. Lil Bow Wow
Ok this one is just me being petty. Nothing makes me laugh like a tragic Lil Bow Wow video (Yes I still call him Lil Bow Wow)! I am sure he would never agree to this interview because I would want to talk about all the things he wouldn’t lol. There’s the epic Grammy countdown fail and then there’s the time he was “hiding” from a group of students on a field trip. His antics make some of the best topics for my show, so it would be fun to have him discuss some of them in person.