If you like to indulge in celebrity news (fine, it’s your wife watching, we believe you) chances are you’ve seen the gorgeous face of eTalk’s Danielle Graham. From reporting on the red carpets of every award show imaginable to interviewing the biggest names in the business (Oprah, anyone?) she’s become a permanent fixture in the entertainment business. In fact, right about now you can watch her coverage of the Cannes Film Festival. We recommend reading through her Q&A here first, of course.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get into broadcasting?
I have this [deep] voice and was told it was distinctive when I was seven years old, which is a horrible thing to grow up with. Everyone thought I sounded like my brother. We had a high school program that had radio, TV and editing so I got to get my hands dirty for four years in high school. I loved it because every day was different and full of creativity. Then I went to college where I thought I would work in production but I was encouraged to do on-air stuff. A place where my voice finally came in handy. After graduating, I got my first job.
How did you make the move to eTalk?
I was at YTV for four years before I joined Star, the entertainment channel, on a show called Star Daily, that was just launching. It was my first time with a teleprompter! I was like ‘wait a minute, what is this magical device?’ All these years I had been memorizing scripts for hour long shows! I had a history of interviewing celebrities from working on YTV and they liked that so I got that job. Once CTV and Chum merged there was one entertainment show they wanted to focus on and that was eTalk. So I was moved over.
I seem to remember you doing the CN Tower Edge Walk on one episode. What has been your favourite assignment so far?
Yes I did. They somehow convinced me to the one that’s in New Zealand too. I was there in the harness about to go out thinking “How am I up here again?’ I don’t know how they convince me. [Laughs] I’ve done all kinds of fun stuff. I did the first season of The Amazing Race Canada and traveled the country with the production team and did all the same death-defying stunts that the contestants did. I think my favourite assignment in the last little while was this year’s Oscars. It was my first time doing the live show, an absolute dream come true. I had a bird’s eye view of the red carpet, telling all of Canada what we were seeing. It was so much fun and I hope we conveyed it.
Who has been your favourite or best interview?
Taylor Swift is my new favourite person. I think we have a thing! I interviewed her at the MMVAs not too long ago and a few months later she was at TIFF. They had mentioned on eTalk that day that I had just gotten engaged. Taylor walked right up to me and said ‘You just got engaged!’ and I got so excited thinking ‘Oh my god, we’re best friends!’ [Laughs] It was amazing. In another interview she was mimicking the funny noises her cats make and we ended up using that in the promo and she tweeted the video with me! Which just goes back to us being best friends. Well, I’m working on it. Oh! I interviewed Oprah once too.
Wow. How do you prepare to interview celebrities? Especially when you’re interviewing arguably the best interviewer ever?
You want to go in with informed and concise questions. I never want to overload my questions with facts. You want to keep them lean, tight and open-ended. With Oprah you want to seem like you know your stuff and you’re serious about it. I still get nervous for those kinds of things. But I think as long as you’re nice, prepared and there to do a job, you get a great response.
Do you have a worst interview that you’ve done?
I don’t know that I have one. For the most part, I think it’s a respect thing. When you’re interviewing someone they know you have a job to do. It’s a mutually respect thing. Thankfully, no one has been horrible to me.
Is there someone you’d like to interview that you haven’t yet?
I’ve never interviewed Angelina Jolie…I’d love to but I’d also be terrified. Even though she seems lovely an gracious, I’d be nervous. Her and Brad together would be THE dream.
I know you said every day is different, but can you map out a regular day?
I get here at 7:30am for makeup and move on to doing an entertainment package for our affiliates letting them know the day’s stories. Then I do a hit for Canada AM, CP24 and News Channel, all before 9am. Throughout the day I continue to do hits including ones for radio. We shoot eTalk between 2 and 3:30 every day. Sometimes I go out on shoots either during the day or at night. Every day really is different.
Was there any story you’ve reported on that you found knock-you-on-your-ass shocking?
The Rob Ford story was crazy. It was the first time I had been sent to city hall to report on anything. I wore a suit and they called me Legally Blonde [laughs]. It was nuts and it went on for weeks. When he went to the hospital, I even reported from there. He went to the Oscars and we spoke to him there. Every day I would think ‘no way this is still going.’ While his whole thing was happening, anytime I went to another interview, I’d introduce myself as being from Toronto and whoever it was would say ‘Oh god, your mayor!’ It was fodder for all my other interviews! I couldn’t believe it.
Have you done anything you’re embarrassed of?
Not really. Whenever I do an interview, I apologize to my husband because I’m a bit of a flirt.
Who have you flirted with?
Everyone! They say it’s my only move, which is true. Well, not my ONLY move just one of my better ones. I had to interview Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth and just thought ‘How could they do this to me?’ What am I supposed to do? I really flirt with Channing Tatum. It’s a natural reaction. I’ve actually said out loud ‘Wow, you’re really good looking.’ It’s just a natural reaction. And they are! That’s why they’re famous.
What do you do when you’re not in the office?
We have a cottage up north that I love. It involves no hair, no makeup and mostly no shoes. Cottage Danielle is very different from City Danielle. I love to cook and I love to garden, they’re my old fashioned hobbies. I like to be outdoors and get my hands dirty.