SOURCE: theofficialblackmagazine.com 

Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner have made history at Entertainment Tonight by being the first Black Hosting Team for the program. And Nischelle is the first ever Black woman to host the show as well. Speaking to Michael Cox (Black Magazine) Erin Johnson, executive producer, explained their hiring criteria and why they chose Kevin and Nischelle.   

“The chemistry they have is rare, especially for cohosts,” remarked Johnson. Kevin and Nischelle were a no-brainer for her and the team since they could “do it all.” “They can do everything with everything feeling very natural,” Erin said. They ask precisely. They’re gaming pros.” Erin believed that the two people in this position should constantly have the audience in mind when interviewing, asking questions, and knowing what they want. 

Photographer: Curtis J Moore 

“Nischelle was always the front runner for the job,” Erin said when I inquired how they chose her. She told me Nancy O’Dell and Mary Hart were the only female cohosts before Nischelle.   

“Kevin’s the OG of Entertainment Tonight,” Johnson said. Since 2004, Kevin “predates” Erin at the company. Since 2014, he had co-hosted with Nancy O’Dell.  

Erin stressed chemistry, enthusiasm, and business knowledge when choosing them. “I feel like I have real partners in the day-to-day process,” stated Johnson. Their dedication and professionalism continue to keep her satisfied with her choice. They consider all perspectives and the story’s consistency with the questions while pitching stories. With them in this position she knows that quality and integrity will be met with everything they do.   

“These are the two busiest people that you would ever meet, and you would never know it,” stated Johnson.  

ET will premiere its historic 43rd season in September cementing its legacy as the number one entertainment newsmagazine in the world.  

Interview with Kevin Frazier   

Cox: What do you consider to be the defining moment in your career?  

Frazier: Surprisingly, I was working as a weekend anchor in Cincinnati. I received this call from a New York number and did not answer it. I was thinking, I’ll just answer it later. Then my general manager approached me and inquired whether I had received a call from David Hill. I said, “I believe so,” and he had an English accent. He confirmed, “That’s the head of Fox Sports.” They want to chat with you about working on the football sidelines. And I thought, Oh, damn. I called, and the next thing you know, I’m on a plane to New York to cover the Giants and Redskins.  

I recognized that this was bigger than just myself and the calling I believed I had conducting basketball games and local sports in Cincinnati and at UC. There could be a national stage for me.  

Cox: Nice. How has your experience navigating the industry been?  

Frazier: I mean, I believe there will always be obstacles in this business. In general, you must have thick skin and perseverance. It took a long time for me to get my first job. In Charleston, South Carolina, I worked as a cameraman. They let me tell a few stories while I was there. I then relocated to Baltimore. On the Sunday night sports show, I did one story per week. But the rest of the day, I was out filming other things, like PTA meetings. I’m mostly behind the camera. As a result, my travel was lengthy.  

I feel compelled to share this moment with you. I traveled to Richmond, Virginia, for the weekend anchor position. I wanted to improve my resume. I believed this would be the ideal chance for me. I was going to murder it. And I blew it. I was a disaster! I arrived on set and bombed. The news director called me into her office and said she’d seen what I’d shot. I’m a good cameraman, and that may be enough for me. And I need to recognize that this could be my calling.  

“Damn,” I thought, and halfway back to Baltimore, I wondered if I was hallucinating. My eyes were welling up with tears. But I refused! I’m not tripping, and it’s all about pushing myself harder the next time. This was a pivotal time in my life because it showed me that if you truly want something, you must make a sacrifice. You must work your tail off to obtain it.  

Cox: This is a difficult industry, and you’ve worked hard to get where you are now. What should people think about if they want to pursue this as a career?  

Frazier: They need to know if they truly enjoy telling stories. I was making $18,000 a year and lived in my grandparents’ attic when I obtained my first job in Charleston. I understood that my passion for this outweighed my existing circumstances. Even back then, I would go into the newsroom and watch the news to learn how the stories were put together. 

I enjoy telling stories. They must determine if it is also what they enjoy doing because they become perplexed. They believe it is all about getting on TV. No, it isn’t. It is about your capacity to convey stories and inform an audience. That is the difficult part. Are you willing to relocate to a tiny town, work for free, and make sacrifices because you love it? People who do that advance in their careers. Those who do not make those sacrifices become trapped. They believe that migrating to a city like Los Angeles will transform their lives.  

Cox: When it comes to stories, how does Kevin tell them?  

Frazier: Listening to people and figuring out what they are saying is the first step in crafting a tale. But I also consider the big picture. Nowadays, we live in our own silos, wanting to see things our way and only our way. However, a story written by me is the result of a 360-degree lens scope. I gather as much information as possible from various sources, but I also want to bring the story to life. And, as a former cameraman, I believe in connecting the words and the images. Words are only words, and pictures are the same. They do, however, present a wonderful story when combined.  

Cox: You brought up the heart. How do you bring something up when you’re having a difficult talk with someone?  

Frazier: I have to create a balance with that. When I work with a celebrity, such as an actress or musician, I try to advertise their initiatives and activities. But there will be occasions when I must do my job and ask those difficult questions about their personal lives. Because I need to sell their story as well as their project.  

Cox: How do you strike a compromise between journalistic integrity and professional performance?  

Frazier: There is a reason why the audience wants to hear the response every time I ask you a question. For example, I’m hosting the Married at First Sight reunion shows. I’m not just the show’s host, but also a fan. So, as both a host and a fan, I’d like to learn a few things. And I do that with everything, from sitting down with someone to walking down the red carpet. I’m speaking to them because it’s my job, but I also like them.  

Coming from a sporting background definitely prepared me for this. You must understand that after a game, players must discuss the game. So, if Shaq misses two free throws that cost his team the game, I’m going to have to confront him about it. It’s difficult because of the obvious circumstances, but the questions must be asked.  

Cox: Let’s walk the red carpet. What is Kevin’s real life like?  

Frazier: It works as a pressure cooker. Especially when it comes to major award shows. You must be familiar with everyone who walks down the carpet. You must be precise. You must be aware of who this finest supporting actress is and what her most recent project is. The director then walks down to the wardrobe stylists. It’s an incredible amount of information to remember. And you just get a minute and a half to two minutes with these people.  

People believe it’s glamorous, but consider how much homework, studying, and focus it requires.  

Cox: Let’s talk about you and Nischelle being the first Black hosting duo for Entertainment Tonight as it celebrates its 43rd year.  

Frazier: It’s wonderful to have someone like Nischelle around you, someone I’ve known for a long time. We’ve both worked the NFL sidelines for Fox and have had a lot of fun. What it means for Entertainment Tonight, I feel, is that it offers individuals who look like us representation to say that they, too, can do this one day. Some parents have stopped me to tell me how proud they are of me and how well I represent my neighborhood on television. I consider my grandfather and what it means to him to turn on the television and see us.  

So, the significance of being here and on this legacy show is not lost on me every day  

Cox: You founded HipHollywood in addition to Co-hosting Entertainment Tonight. I’m curious as to what inspired you to build that media platform.  

Frazier: When it came to entertainment, I discovered that I had a wide range of interests and passions. Even while ET chased the greatest stars and storylines, there were still things that were essential to me and my neighborhood. So, instead of fighting to get those things on, as most people would, I decided to develop my own platform for them. That is why HipHollywood means so much to me because it is a black-owned business that highlights the stars in our community who are often disregarded.  

We’ve amassed a sizable following because we cover movie premieres, TV shows, and other topics of interest to our community. We will shortly launch our travel platform, which I hope will be transformative for African American travelers worldwide. It will allow you to plan excursions and locate black-owned restaurants, stores, and lodging. It’s all about attracting cultural tourists.  

Interview with Nischelle  

Cox: Nischelle tell me when your fascination with television began.  

Turner: I knew I wanted to be on television since I was about 13 years old. It all started with me becoming a writer. I enjoyed writing but had no idea what it might lead to one day in terms of job. As a writer, I was always imaginative and enjoyed telling stories. One day, while watching television in my living room, a woman named April Eaton appeared on the news. She was reporting the news, which was the first time I had seen a Black woman do so. And this was before Oprah became famous.  

I recall feeling something because that woman resembled me. And her work was intriguing, which piqued my interest in television, news, and journalism.  

Fast forward two years to my sophomore year of high school. Rod Kelly, my guidance counselor, offered a subject called Media Communications. I had no idea what that was, but he mentioned it to me one day and insisted on my attending the lesson. I realized everything was coming together after taking this class. From there, I continued my journalism education.  

Cox: Tell me about your beginning.  

Turner: I was a one-man band back in the day. We had three-quarter-inch gear, light kits, and cameras back then. I was carrying all of that up the stairs of the Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City. And I’ve worked in extremely small markets and done everything.  

Cox: I’m curious about your experience as a Black woman in this industry. You made history as the first Black woman co-host on ET, as well as the first Black hosting team with Kevin.  

Turner: This year marks the 25th anniversary of my career in this industry. I know it looks good, but it’s been a long road. People now consider my career to be successful. They have no idea that I didn’t see Entertainment Tonight until I was over 40 years old. Prior to that, I worked as a local news anchor for 12 years. I covered sports for five years and also worked for CNN.  

I did go through all of the stages, and they weren’t easy. I’ve stepped into rooms where the expectations for me were low. That, among many other things, I had to conquer. I’d been passed over for positions because I didn’t meet the beauty standards of a station’s viewers. And I’ve worked hard throughout my career to demonstrate that Black beauty isn’t one-dimensional. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and beliefs.  

It’s been a struggle, but one day I recognized that while we may have arrived late to the party, we’re here now and we’ve got this.  

Cox: Because you had to navigate an industry that didn’t always welcome you or perhaps asked you to adjust certain aspects. What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Turner: I identify as a Blerd (Black Nerd). That’s the kind of Black girl I am. I grew up in rural Missouri, listening to country music, collecting oddities, and reading comic books. I was giving a speech at a high school, and they asked me a similar question. And I assured them I’d let my younger self know that her oddness will triumph. The characteristics that made me feel out of place, mocked, and insecure were also the things that made me an asset in my professional life.  

Cox: You indicated throughout our interview that surrendering to yourself has helped you progress and advance in your job. What did that procedure entail?  

Turner: I had to recall what my mother had always told me. God only has three answers, Yes, Not Yet and I’ve got something better I had forgotten about it for a long time. I had to sit down with myself and figure out what happiness meant to me. I have to think about it beyond the criticism I received in my career for failing to meet certain objectives. I had to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for myself.  

I wrote about my advantages and disadvantages. I took everything in from what I’d heard and feedback that I didn’t think was fair. Then I examined everything to see if there was any truth to this, even if it was just a speck. I took ownership of the things I could work on and improve, but I also recognized that some of the things I was upset about had solid reasons. But the worst thing I learned was letting other people’s storylines permeate inside of me.  

Opening my heart to things helped me open up to myself and others when I took ownership of my prior experiences. I reached out in order to make connections and create relationships that would benefit me. I’ve formed so many new relationships with my coworkers and other people in the field that would not have occurred if I had remained closed in, frustrated, and angry.  

Cox: You’ve been on quite an adventure. Was there ever a time when you took a chance because you knew it wasn’t the ideal spot for you?  

Turner: I was given the incredible opportunity to interview to replace Star Jones on The View in 2006. However, my general manager refused to allow me to go to the audition. It was a heartbreaking experience because this was going to be one of the most important opportunities for me. Because they didn’t comprehend me, I realized this was the moment to leave the company. I took a leap of faith and left in 2008. Then the economy crashed. I went from making a good living to earning nothing.  

I recall how difficult it was for me during that time because I wasn’t getting hired. Because I’m not frightened of working for a living, I instructed my agent to send me anything. You wouldn’t believe it, but I was on my way to apply for a job at Target when I received a call from CNN with an offer. Moments like this can only be attributed to my faith.  

Cox: What were your thoughts when the possibility to co-host the show with Kevin was presented to you?  

Turner: I told a CBS executive that this opportunity was larger than me. I informed him that this chance would demonstrate a new way of thinking about how we can reach people. This will be an opportunity to demonstrate other females who look like me that this is possible. It is conceivable. They were listening to me but didn’t grasp what I was saying till I got the job. They realized what was going on after seeing people’s reactions and what they were saying.  

To be honest, I didn’t think America was ready for two African American anchors on Entertainment Tonight. Fortunately, I was mistaken. People’s reactions to me and Kevin are incredibly encouraging to me. It strengthens my belief in who we are as a people.  

Cox: What are you most proud of in your career and with Entertainment Tonight right now?  

Turner: I appreciate the fact that Kevin and I have earned the right to have a voice. And the way Entertainment Tonight is put together, I believe it’s all very special and very significant. 

 We can give additional channels for consumers to consume a variety of information. We are able to come up every day and ensure that other voices are heard. We were just talking about this with our executive producer the other day. It manifests itself in our morning meetings and talks. 

 It also influences what we see on television in terms of what and how we cover things. These are the things I’m most proud of because I want our viewers to feel like they’re a part of what we’re accomplishing.  This includes their favorite things in entertainment, such as the people, celebrities, and everything portrayed. 

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