Tanya Kim has only minutes to create a rapport with the celebrities she interviews. Her experience, perspective and positive vibe help her career—and her life overall.
For a woman who starts her day at 4 am, Tanya Kim is bursting with energy at 5 pm when we speak—right before she’s about to head out to a kickboxing class. Laughter comes easily to Kim, host of the daily “Entertainment City” on Breakfast Television Toronto and Your World This Week on Rogers Digital Channel 1—both with co-host Adam Wylde.
“There’s no week that’s really typical,” she says. She travels more than ever to shoot interviews and assignments and it suits her just fine. “It’s all chaotic, and in the best way possible.”
Kim grew up dancing and playing piano in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Her brother Richard is a professional dancer who toured with Gloria Estefan and Reba McIntyre to name a few and worked with Michael Jackson. He is now director of his own dance studios. They both had the bug. “I wanted to be an In Living Colour fly girl, which is where J-Lo got her start, or an L.A. Laker girl, which is where Paula Abdul started,” she recalls.
“I didn’t see a lot of people, and especially women, who looked like me, on television,” she says. “So I didn’t realize that it was something that I could achieve or aspire to do.” But her curiosity and a little gentle urging from her parents led her on a different route. She was a devout reader and loved watching shows like 20/20, Prime Time and 48 Hours.
“So I followed my heart in another way,” she says, and landed in the broadcast journalism program at Ryerson, which eventually led her back to the entertainment industry. She was the co-anchor on eTalk alongside Ben Mulroney for 10 years.
“Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had are with the really creative types,” Kim says. As a celebrity interviewer, she has had to refine a unique set of social skills to get to the quick of a person right away. On junkets, she has about four minutes to get a moment of intimacy on film—on the red carpet, even less. In the age of screen-mediated relationships, her ability to create kinship in person is becoming a rare art.
The best way to make a connection is with silence she advises. “No matter what chaos is going on around you—the screaming, the flashing bulbs—if someone’s speaking to you, open your ears, close your mouth, and just take it in.”
Another trick is to match energy levels. Don’t approach a subdued person with guns blazing. And if all else fails, she’s got her patented “hearty high five”—a trick she uses to get a star’s attention, even if only for a moment. “Just go for it,” she says.
In 2014, Kim was laid off from eTalk and suddenly found herself at a dead stop. A non-compete clause in her contract meant she was unable to work for close to a year. “After 14 years of living like a rock star, it was quite a shock,” she says.
But she’s not the wallowing type. Kim went Pinterest on her situation. She started journaling every day and noting what she was grateful for, whether it was a cozy bed or just the fact that the sun rose. She was also able to spend time with her Bullmastiff Miss Louise. It would turn out to be their final year together. Kim lost her beloved “Weezie” at about the same time that her non-compete was up. “‘It was like she was saying, ‘OK mama, now you’ve gotta figure out what you need to do with yourself, so I’m going to let you go and do that.’”
Getting laid off was one of the best things that ever happened to her, she believes. “This was for many reasons, but especially because of that shift in my perspective,” she says.
One thing in her life remains the same—a commitment to health and fitness. Barre workouts are a chance for her to revisit her old dancing days and keep toned. But she’s also a huge fan of kickboxing to get her frustrations out.
Kim doesn’t own a scale. To her, fitness is a mental and physical state of being. They are connected. “It’s a nice release from my hectic schedule—it keeps me sane,” she says.
“I feel like at this point in my life, with the perspective that I have now, what’s most important is to be happy and to be putting your best face and best heart forward,” she says. “People will feel that energy from you.”
The celebrity world isn’t where you’d expect to learn about human connection. Kim is a master of a skill that many—trapped behind screens—are losing. Who would expect to find an elite training ground of human interaction on the red carpet, the very place where so much of digital entertainment originates?
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