Cat Deeley On So You Think You Can Dance's Changes and Stealing Emmys
Cat Deeley's hosting gig on So You Think You Can Dance acquaints her with talents who want a quick rise to stardom, but her beginnings in TV happened just as swiftly. The 33-year-old star landed an on-air job in her native UK after sending one self-made audition tape to MTV. That job led to countless others, including hosting duties on Brit reality series The Record of the Year and Reach for the Stars. Now that she emcees the US and UK versions of So You Think You Can Dance, Deeley seems poised for a universal takeover. Ahead of SYTYCD's seventh season premiere tonight on Fox, Deeley spoke with Movieline about her academic past, Emmy aspirations, and how the show will be different without Mary Murphy as a permanent judge.
The same reality-competition series get Emmy nominations every year. When is your show going to get the big nom it deserves?
We need you to petition! You should wear a t-shirt and go door to door. Listen, I would love to win an Emmy at some stage or another. I can't pretend not to. And actually, at last year's Emmys, I was backstage. There were tons of them on this table waiting to get handed out. And let me tell you, if I had pockets in my evening gown that day, they would've had to just double-check the count. One would've definitely been missing. But we're going to keep doing what we're doing, and at some stage or another it will be acknowledged. It's such a great team of people, the dancers are so amazing, and the production staff are great. I think we're very lucky that everyone is so passionate about the show. So, we're going to keep doing what we're doing. If we're recognized by the Emmys, fabulous. If not, I've got more miniskirts and high heels to pull out.
That's good news for most of the world, I believe.
[Laughs] It would be a duller place without my ridiculous outfits once a week.
Last season on So You Think You Can Dance, the krumper Russell won it all. Will we see more new styles of dance emerge this season? Are krumpers applying by the horde?
You know what? There isn't a storm of krumpers. An actual fact is, it's a really difficult genre to do and to do well. What I loved about Russell winning last year is that, yes, he was a krumper, but he did manage to master different genres as well, though his specialty was krump. The big thing for me was he came from not-a-great place in Roxbury in Boston, and I remember him turning around to me right at the very beginning when we were doing the audition process. It was one of the very, very first times -- I think it was the first time I met him. I asked him why he wanted to do this competition, and he said, "Because I want to have the opportunity to work with all these different people. And also, for me, winning the title and winning the prize would make an enormous difference to my family. It will change their living."
What I like about the show, what separates this reality show from others -- it proves that the American dream is very much alive and kicking. You can be any race, color, creed, religion, doesn't matter. If you have a passion and a talent for what you do, you can from absolutely nothing and transform your life. He, in particular, proves the American dream is alive and kicking. And I love that. He did more than just the genre of krump, and when he won, it was more to do with "Anything is possible."
Mary Murphy isn't a permanent fixture on the judges panel anymore. Mia Michaels is replacing her. How will that affect the show, and have you noticed any changes during the audition process?
I think, like I say, our door is always open to previous contestants, choreographers, judges. So people do come in and do go, and it depends on other opportunities that are available. I think that Mia Michaels is going to be a permanent fixture, and she'll be great. The dancers hold her in high esteem. She's a genius. She was born to choreograph. I think they love hearing her critiques. She doesn't mince her words, she's very, very honest. But I do think that it comes from a very good place. Even if she has criticisms, it's constructive criticism. Also, more than anything else, she's a little bit bonkers. She's the first person to say that to you. And I love that. That will be added kind of benefit too. She's a little bonkers, and she has her own way of seeing things. I love people who are very honest and very open and don't pretend to be anything they're not.
You started out as a model in your teens, but your work in television hosting began immediately afterward. You're a natural presenter. Was this your plan from early on -- from before modeling?
Thank you for the lovely compliment. It was very strange for me because when I think i was seven years old, there was a show on UK TV called Blue Peter, which was a kids show, but they'd do things like dive with Great White Sharks, or ride the highest roller coasters in the world, or make things, or make soup, or whatever it was. I really either wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter or Julie Andrews. Julie Andrews kind of had Julie Andrews covered. Now, when I was in school, I did very well academically. I enjoyed school, I was a bit of a square. I did very well in exams. I was quite lucky I was academic. Then I was told, "You should be a lawyer, a doctor, or an accountant, or something sensible." You know what I mean? Where if you follow a certain path when you get to university, you'll come out at the end and you'll have a good career, and it'll be something you love and you'll get a nice standard of living from it.
When I was 14, I won a model competition. So when I was 16, over my school holidays, I lived in Japan for two months. When I finished my A levels [UK college-qualifying studies], I didn't quite know what to do. I was told, "Look, be sensible. Maybe the entertainment industry isn't the way for you to go" because my mom and dad aren't anybody famous, and I hadn't been to stage school, and I'm from a small town. So I kind of lost my way a bit. I didn't know what to do. I thought maybe I'd like to read English literature at university. So I took a year off, did modeling for a year, and then I went, "Right, it's time to stop messing about and decide -- what is going to be my career?" I thought back to when I was seven years old, and I thought, "Either Julie Andrews or a Blue Peter presenter." And Julie Andrews still had Julie Andrews covered. I thought, "OK, I'm going to make a tape and send it to MTV." I made this very amateurish tape on my mom and dad's camcorder and sent it in to MTV. And that's how I got my job. It just developed from there really. I was just lucky to get one job after another after another.
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