Whether you call her a presenter (UK/Australia) or TV host (USA), the girlfriend is intriguing. Carly Steel covered Sunday’s Oscar red carpet with The Bachelor‘s Chris Harrison and the TV Guide fashion squad. Someone who has appeared on film screens herself, she dished on her work, hairstyles and funny moments.
I’m kind of obsessed with reading every edition of the same magazine within America and overseas, noting the big differences in each edition! When you were writing for the American edition of Vogue, what did you write that might not have run in Vogue UK?
That’s a great question! I think the biggest difference between the two is the tone, not the content – the British edition is more edgy and has a much more irreverent, ‘tongue in cheek’ tone, which reflects the British sensibility and dry sense of humor whereas the American version is a little more serious and straight laced. That’s not to say American Vogue doesn’t also have a wonderful point of view and sense of fun because it very much does. They’re just different. As I am from the UK, it was just a matter of adjusting my tone with my writing, any play on words and questions so that it was less cheeky!
Do you see any acting in presenting, or as we call it in the states, hosting? You’re someone who does both, so do you see both in each career, or is each a separate entity?
Actually hosting can often require quite a lot of acting, more than people realize! Sometimes you have to employ more acting techniques in hosting than in acting because it has to be all the more believable and real, and authentic e.g. talking to the camera as if it was a couple of your best friends required some visualization techniques in the beginning before I got used to it. And sometimes if you are talking about something or talking with someone you don’t instantly connect with you have to shift your energy at a deep rooted level in order to turn that around and roll with the punches. And of course there is the need to always be “on” and have happy and excited energy when the cameras are rolling and depending on how you are feeling that can require a lot of acting! One really blends into the other. It’s also great to have experience in both as you have a better understanding of where the talent you are interviewing is coming from.
While on television, have you ever had anything embarrassing happen, such as forgetting to do something when you need to walk in a certain direction or having your outfit rip on air?
Not yet, but I look forward to those things happening as they tend to make news and bring in higher ratings a la Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars getting ashed by Sacha Baron Cohen – I think every host was very jealous that wasn’t them! I have however said some silly and embarrassing things which I have later regretted. Sometimes I have to ask silly questions which can cause the person you are interviewing to essentially start laughing at you on the spot, and there are also occasions you get so caught up in the moment and in the conversation that you can let your guard down, which is not good and as I don’t have much of a filter to start with, coupled with a very silly sense of humor! Recently I was at the Oscar Nominee luncheon interviewing the talented young star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhane Wallis. It was the end of a long, 5-hour shoot, so delirium was setting in. She was carrying a dog-shaped bag with her, which has become her awards season staple, and I meant to say “you are taking the term Doggie Bag to a whole new level this season” but instead said “you are taking Doggie style to a whole new level this season!” To a 9 year old! Who thankfully didn’t pick up on it, but her mother was standing right behind me, and the crew was trying to conceal their guffaws. Not one of my finest moments!
What exciting things have you done recently while hosting?
What I love about this job is that no two days are the same, and there is always something new and exciting every day. I loved hosting the official live red carpet show for the Twilight premiere for Summit, the studio, and Yahoo! Movies. The atmosphere was electric and it was broadcast on big jumbotrons around the Nokia plaza, and there was a real sense of this being a special moment as the fans of that franchise are so hardcore. I love them, and I loved corresponding with the fans from all around the world live on air via twitter and facebook. That’s the beauty of social media and the internet – the ability to connect with the audience and ask and talk about the things they want to hear – it’s like an instant focus group! And of course I always love doing TV Guide’s Live Oscar Show – it was my first ever live shoot a few years ago, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Who have you met whom you were really impressed by?
I love Jennifer Lawrence – I think she is incredibly talented, but what I especially love about her is that she is so down to earth and grounded and you can see that in every interview and acceptance speech she gives. There’s nothing pretentious there which is refreshing. I also think Seth Macfarlane is brilliant and an absolute genius and I feel there is nothing he can’t do – I want to be Seth Macfarlane!
We in the USA have this saying of television personalities, “They’re all talking heads,” meaning, they show up, talk and don’t have a measurable talent. This obviously is not true of men with marketing on their minds, like Ryan Seacrest who is a genius sitting atop his millions upon millions earned from TV, behind and in front of the camera. And certainly, it isn’t true of you. But when people see TV hosts in a quick moment, they wrongfully don’t think it’s a “real job,” at least, perhaps in masses when I read article comments about say, Khloe Kardashian hosting the “X Factor” like it’s NOTHING. As if she doesn’t have to memorize lines or anything! If you had a chance to scream at whoever idiotically says these things about being a TV host, what do you want to tell them?
It is so much work to make it look that effortless! Much harder and more nerve wracking than you would assume – especially hosting live. I am reminded of that every year when I hosted the American Music Awards red carpet for Dick Clark productions and ABC. The network has actors come on with us to co-host who don’t have a lot of hosting experience. Some find it really terrifying and difficult. It really is a skill to which I have had to work really hard on for the past 5 years – form the art of interviewing – formulating the questions the best way to illicit the best answers, making the person you are interviewing open up regardless of what mood they are in, mastering the casual conversation script read to camera and energetic voiceover reads where you have to learn to hit the right tone and punch the right words, and keep things going smoothly when they technology and anything else goes awry – the whole thing is exceptionally difficult. It’s such a skill, and the ones who make it look easy and effortless – like Ryan – are the best ones at it.
What does go on when you have a hosting gig to fulfill and what do you do so you don’t let your employers down?
There’s always the delicate balance of having to ask the questions your network needs you to ask while maintaining relationships (which are so important for hosts as access is everything) and asking things in a way you are comfortable with. You just have to take every situation as it comes and weigh the pros and cons.
What goes on when you’re prepping your material?
I am such a geek, coupled with being a type A personality and spending hours prepping and researching. I absolutely LOVE the research aspect – it’s my favorite part, and I lock myself away in my study for hours on end really diving in to it. I like to know everything on a particular subject – all the options – to know I’ve chosen the best things to say or ask. I watch past interviews with the talent to see what works for them and what doesn’t and what has been asked before so I don’t repeat that as I like my material to be very fresh and unique, and I spend a lot of time pouring over articles and trivia and Google. A new favorite thing to do is also asking my twitter followers and facebook friends what they think and would like to hear – that is such a tremendous research.
You’ve been in some “who wore it better” outfit wars in the media looking really cute. I really like your hair and outfit color picks. And to say you don’t get a high off saying, “Of course, I wore it better” would be a lie, right? Is this fun whenever you see yourself this way?
Thank you so much for the lovely compliment, although I’m sure I’ve rarely worn it better as depressingly all the actresses I’ve been up against are so beautiful with incredible figures that they’d make anything look better! Even I would vote for them!
Speaking of hair, and I badly want to ask you this because all my hair comes from the UK and I do it (arm, attach it) at home, why do you think American women cannot just get hair right here? Your color and cut is really nice. Specifically, what do you do when you do your own hair? You don’t have the same old USA “TV presenter” look that no matter where someone is from, all women on TV get sucked into. Thank goodness! Sometimes, and not to sound like an awful, future American doing a faux British Madonna accent, I feel like my fellow American women have no taste!
Haha – that is so funny! I definitely like to mix it up and do different looks and am not afraid to try something new and a little edgier – sometimes to my detriment. But my hair and make-up artists Mishel Brownlee, and Brittany Meredith tell me they like this about me as it keeps things more fun for them. There does tend to be that overly hair sprayed, voluminous helmet look that a lot of newscasters have in America which I agree with you is terribly old fashioned and if you EVER see me with anything like that please feel free to send me a, “have you lost your mind?” tweet! I owe my color to the fabulous Tracey Cunningham who, in my humble opinion, in addition to being one of the coolest girls you’ll meet, is the best colorist in the world and has become a superstar in her own right (she’s in more magazines than I am!). In the UK, I never had difficulty finding a great hair stylist and colorist, but when I moved here it was a nightmare – they are like unicorns here. It took me a long time and a lot of bad dye jobs before I found her. And I had to go foreign – Rossano Ferretti and Michele Finessi at Rossano Ferretti salon – to find a good cut!
Do you enjoy seeing what people wear on the red carpet? Do you ever make fun of anyone’s ridiculous outfits in your head? Because when I look at tabloids, I skip past all the articles simply to laugh at people’s clothes, as mean as that is, and I would assume seeing these outfits in person must make you want to fall on the floor giggling.
I love people watching so the red carpet is heaven for me in that respect. And it can truly be a red carpet because sometimes it’s a fashion bloodbath! And I often have a vocalized running commentary with my producers and crew as there can be quite a bit of down time in between interviews and that kind of banter keeps things fun – we have our own mini version of fashion police! Especially at the Grammys where you see the most outrageous things!
With every article I see about you, you get asked about why you do an American accent here and a more UK accent back home. What’s up with that? I could care less where I am, always speaking with my Chicago style speak regardless, and I was wondering why you *must* consistently have to fake an accent when you seem perfectly capable of doing a great job as your real voice on air. Certainly, it would make you more alluring as opposed to vocally blending in with everyone else doing the monotone, yawn, American broadcasting accent! 🙂 I mean, a voice is what made/makes people important, past and present, like Marilyn Monroe’s breathy tone or Hugh Grant’s British manly vibe, you know?
I wish it was a fake accent but I really do naturally speak the way you hear me on air and ironically I’ve actually been finding it quite difficult to switch back which is embarrassing! I think I’d need to go back to the UK for a couple of months to properly do it. I’ve always been someone who picks up accents and vocal speech patterns and even distinctive laughs depending on who I’m spending time with. When I was young (we’re talking 8) I would go to Paris for a few days and come back with a really pretentious sounding French intonation, or Rome and I would elongate certain words Italian-style! My parents were very confused, not to mention my school friends. But I just can’t help it! Perhaps that means I don’t have a clear identity of who I am. I don’t know – I’ll let others analyze that! But the bright side is I do really good accent imitations which seem to amuse my friends. The longer I spent in the States, the more American I sounded to the point where I just had to completely commit as it was the weird, mid Atlantic, not quite one thing or another situation which wasn’t working as it wasn’t easily identifiable – just kind of off kilter.
If you could have any role as an actress, which would it be?
Bond villain or the new Money Penny. But since Naomi Harris has nabbed the latter (thanks a lot Sam Mendes!) I’ll have to focus on the former – especially since for that it’s encouraged to have a mysterious accent! And I love anything that involves plotting or subterfuge!
How do you define yourself as a strong, beautiful, smart young woman in your work as a host and also, as an actress?
Well as you can see from previous answers that I clearly have issues defining myself… 🙂 so I can only say that I strive to bring a unique perspective to everything I do, try to do it to the absolute best of my ability and to simultaneously inform and entertain.