The Talk with Carly Steel

Juliet: How did you get into tv hosting?

Carly: Gosh that question requires a long and convoluted answer. Asthe honest answer is I never intended to get into TV hosting, it was always film I wanted to pursue. The abbreviated version is after graduating from University in England with a law degree, I was very young when I graduated and took what is popularly referred to as a ‘gap year’ and ended up working at Vogue in NYC and never went back to England or law! I really enjoyed the glamour and interviewing people and the day of the Met Ball I met Giuliana from E! News --- after a quick chat she kindly set me up with an interview at E! and I ended up applying for an entry level producer position there and moving to LA. After a year I transitioned to on-air – my first interview was with Richard Gere and I just took to it quite quickly and loved it, so from there I started hosting for a digital site then became a film expert for TV Guide Network. From there I worked up to becoming a correspondent for the Live Awards show red carpet coverage, then a host. The Royal Wedding was the first time I got to anchor and after 4 years there I started hosting for The Insider then Entertainment Tonight. Along the way I've done quite a few acting jobs and sold a show with Lionsgate so things continue to evolve.

Juliet: Your new show "Jet to the Set" such a fresh idea for TV. Tell us a little bit about it. Who came up with it?

Carly: My co-creator and co-host Laurie Feltheimer and I were having lunch at the Cannes Film Festival 2 years ago and we’d been talking for a while about wanting to work together as we had done a couple of shoots in the past and have great on-air chemistry which can be rare for 2 female hosts together. We decided an ideal vehicle for us would be the combination of Laurie’s Hot in Hollywood company concept which takes hot Hollywood trends and translates it for every woman, and my background in film and TV and interviewing, plus our combined love of travel. And from that, JET TO THE SET was born. I was a brand ambassador for a well-known hotel company for a few years and through that learned that there was a microcosm of tourism where people wanted to travel to iconic film and TV locations, and not only visit those places and take selfies, but also go to all the hotspots – stay where the stars stayed, ate where the stars ate – drink what they drank, and hang out where they hung out in their down time. It’s a way of getting cool local knowledge through the eyes of celebrity and productions. So the concept is essentially travelling like the stars and living like the movie, both on set and off, and showing that even seemingly nondescript locations in the US can be as glamorous and cool as international jet setting, as there are so many hidden treasures at these locations that are attainable and don’t require spending a lot of money to visit. Laurie and I are on a Thelma and Louise style escapade exploring all of these aspects and the stars themselves are our tour guides so we explore these things with them in a fun, adventurous way.

Juliet: What is the best part of working on this show? 

Carly: The best part of working on this show is getting to work with Laurie who is one of the most incredible, inspiring and fun women I know, so to share these adventures with her is the best! And also to go on mad cap adventures themselves – I like doing things with an element of danger and discomfort and this show enables me to explore that. I also love that we can show fans really cool places to go that I didn’t know existed and I’m such a huge film fan that to visit and spend time in the actual locations – I geek out over that every time!

Juliet: Let's talk about fashion. You are a red carpet regular. Whose style do you absolutely love?

Carly: I love Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson – they nail sexy feminine elegance with a twist.

Juliet: Who is your favorite designer?

Carly: Alice & Olivia – Stacey Bendet creates the perfect blend of vintage inspired feminine with an edge which is very much my style.

Juliet: Leather or lace?

Carly: Both! And sometimes together. I love a prim and proper DVF or Dolce & Gabbana lace dress juxtaposed with a shrunken soft leather moto jacket and ankle biker boots.

Juliet: How do you take off pressure before going out on the red carpet or in front of ET cameras?

Carly: As I’m British I would say a great source of calm is a good long hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender. I also love going to Pilates classes on the reformer, hiking in the hills (beautiful scenery always helps give perspective) a massage or, if I’m brutally honest, watching The Real Housewives shows on Bravo – I’m obsessed and it requires absolutely no cerebral activity so you can just switch off for an hour which is very relaxing. I also find that researching and preparing for shoots keeps me calm as the more I prepare, the more excited and confidant I feel about the shoot. To me, there is no such thing as being too prepared, unless you get overwhelmed.

Juliet: Who was your favorite interviewee and why?

Carly: Another tough question because everyone I meet and interview has a unique quality that I enjoy. My most memorable interviews are my first ever one - Richard Gere – such an elegant, charming gentleman, he put me at ease, I loved chatting with him and that interview cemented pursuing this career, Kate Hudson is a repeated favorite because if you could ever pick the ultimate gal pal to be friends with it would be her – she is so fun to be around, has an incredible energy, she just lights up every room and you have a great time with her.

Juliet: You were handpicked by Tom Cruise to fly with him on his jet for two international press tours co-hosting IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION premiere. What was it like? Tom Cruise! Insane! Were you nervous?

Carly:Hosting the Mission Impossible Rogue Nation NYC premiere was initially quite a daunting task because it was coming off the back of a fast paced European tour, I was jetlagged and we shut down Times Square. It was Live, and being on a huge podium, broadcast on Jumbotrons to tens of thousands of people, just a sea of faces, was quite overwhelming. I don’t do a lot of audience interaction / addressing crowds, so keeping them warmed up and entertained, is a very different format to simply talking to an actor and the camera. It was the closest thing I’ve experience to a rock concert, and that’s a testament to the star power of Tom Cruise. But I wasn’t nervous about working with Tom himself because he has such a magnetic energy, a lovely, gallant quality that instantly puts you at ease, so when he arrived and came up on the stage I was relieved because he is in his element at addressing the crowd, and the pressure was off me. He’s one of the most inspiring people I‘ve had the privilege to encounter.

Juliet: What do you think your secret is in being a successful tv host, interviewer?

Carly: Hosting and interviewing are two very different skills, and to be successful in this industry you must master both. I would say my strength is interviewing because that’s where I started, and the best advice I can give is to be interested in your interview subject, make it about them, not you, your top priority is to make them feel comfortable and put them at ease so they have a good time and to connect with them on a deeper level. Really listen to what they are saying throughout, instead of thinking of your next question (or if someone is talking in your ear via IFB) as that is where you can have a real moment with that person and get the gold. And no matter what is going on around you during the interview – whether you are on a red carpet with screaming fans and photographers, or in a room full of people, block all of that out and create a bubble around you and your subject so that it feels like it’s just the two of you. Make sure you use your intuition to feel them out, and see where they are at energy-wise then match your energy to an appropriate level and then you can bring them to where you need to be through your own energy. People react to genuine thoughts and emotions – don’t be fake, and don’t talk over your interview subject as that not only annoys your editor, but also your audience, who are ultimate tuning in to hear them, not you. In terms of advice for hosting overall – connect with the camera and your audience, don’t be afraid to be yourself, but always be mindful of your audience and respectful of who you are talking to, and above all – tenacity is imperative (and try not to take things too personally).

Juliet: Karl Lagerfeld's cat Choupette, a spoiled #Chanel pussy whose maids pamper her every need as her own book. Do you think she's got competition?

Carly: Well, there is no competition, Khaleesi is clearly the superior feline in every respect ;-). Well, I like to think so at least. She may not fly private but she is treated like a princess in every other way. She is Siberian and therefore hypo-allergenic, has stunning fur and features, but more importantly she has the most incredible personality – playful, mischievous and insightful and very, very funny, we are very similar in a lot of ways and she has changed my life, she is great company! Everyone who meets her is won over, even people who normally prefer dogs. No matter where I go in the world, no matter how glamorous, nothing compares to being back in LA with Khaleesi. There is a reason ancient Egyptians worshipped cats! They are incredible, and being a single girl with a cat should not be stigmatized.

Juliet:What is next for Carly Steel?

Carly: Gosh that is an excellent question – every day is different and things keep shifting, which is kind of how I like it. In addition to continuing correspondent duties for ET, I’m working on some more scripted projects and building my production company and producing more unscripted content too. That is definitely going to be a focus for 2016. And I’m excited for my movies to come out too!


Photos by Lauri Levenfeld

To learn more about behind the scenes story of Carly Steel,  visit The Project For Women.