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The Social’s Jess Allen: Six things I’ve learned being on TV

Season 3 of The Social returns to CTV next Monday, Aug. 31. Co-hosted by Melissa Grelo, Cynthia Loyst, Lainey Lui and Traci Melchor, The Social also includes digital correspondent Jess Allen. We got the multi-tasking, multi-faceted dynamo to write a guest column about her experiences on the series so far. Take it away, Jess:

Right before The Social premiered two years ago, I remember my bosses asking me if I would be comfortable occasionally being on TV. “Sure,” I said. How hard can live television be?

I was fairly green—as in zero television experience. I’d done on-camera work in the form of videos. But the thing with that medium is something called “editing.” It’s a miracle thing, really, that can remove blunders, stutters, snorts and awkward pauses with a few swift keystrokes.

Here is what I’ve learned in the meantime:

  1. Don’t make fun of Liza Minnelli. Even if she shows up at the Golden Globes not wearing a bra. People will be angry with you and may even send the show emails about how insensitive you are towards a living legend.
  1. The things people love about you are the same things people hate about you. For example, people seem to enjoy me because I over share—except for people who think I share too much: like the sincere young woman who told me that I shouldn’t have talked about picking my nose on television. I reminded her that the story I told was of me picking my nose when I was four years old, thinking that might soften her disappointment. (It didn’t.)
  1. Don’t over-analyze the opinions you share on live TV because you can’t always predict with precision what will offend. I could say that I think Donald Trump has some pretty good ideas and there’d be the sound of crickets. In the next breath I could confess that I don’t believe in ghosts and people might gasp in horror. You will never please everyone, which I know seems so obvious but it’s still a difficult concept to accept when you’re a born people pleaser. Make a (terrible) joke about how I wish unicorns would go extinct already because duh, they’re racist, and a unicorn-truther would be upset. Just be true to you.
  1. I’ve also learned that I should dress sexy, even though I’m not comfortable wearing form-fitting outfits; that I should wear whatever makes me comfortable; that every person’s definition of what marmy-type clothing is different; that every person’s interpretation of fashion-forward is different; and that I should dress like a marm (and not sexy) if I like it. Confused yet? Me too. The lesson? A stylist is the best friend a girl on the tube can have.
  1. Remember in the HBO show The Newsroom how MacKenzie, the show’s executive producer, would be talking in the ear of anchor Will McAvoy via an IFB? Will is always so chill—even if MacKenzie is telling him that the world is about to end. He makes it look so easy. Well, it’s not easy to have someone talking in your ear while you’re trying to talk about how unicorns are racist and that’s why they should go extinct. It’s really, really hard. And I will never be as good as Will McAvoy. (Or Melissa Grelo.)
  1. An IFB is a little thing that goes into your ear and acts like an intercom between you and the control room. Also, it makes you feel like an FBI agent. And that is a beautiful thing.

The Social airs Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET on CTV.

 


Jessica Allen is excited to be returning this season as THE SOCIAL’s Digital Correspondent, and looks forward to writing more stories for the show’s website on everything from food, films, and books to science and history (You can read her latest pieces under The Jess Files). She will also appear as the fifth chair on Fridays with THE SOCIAL’s co-hosts, and whenever anyone tells her to.

Before joining the team at THE SOCIAL, Jessica was an assistant editor at Maclean’s where she wrote arts and culture-related stories for the website and magazine. After work, she maintains her personal food blog, Foodie and the Beast. It’s actually a relationship blog masquerading as a food blog, because really, when you get down to brass tacks, the good stuff happens – and will continue to happen – around the dinner table.

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The Social gals get chatting for Season 2

They’re back and they’ve got a lot more to say. Yup, those Social gals–news anchor Melissa Grelo, relationship expert and life coach Cynthia Loyst, gossip maven Lainey Lui and entertainment reporter Traci Melchor–return for Season 2 this week and they’re raring to go.

No topic is out of bounds for the quartet; they feel equally at home discussing the latest fashion trends, current news making headlines or spilling the dirt on the most recent celebrity breakup. And the foursome say they felt a chemistry between them from the get-go.

“The first time that they put us all together for auditions I said to myself, ‘This is it,'” Melchor explains. “None of the other formations felt as good as us.” It hasn’t been all smooth sailing on-air. As Loyst tells it, they’ve all become great friends but have argued on more than one occasion on the show. Of course, she explains, that not only makes for great TV but cements they are real people with differing opinions on subjects.

“We still get along, we’re like a weird sisterhood,” Loyst says with a laugh. “You fight, you make up and then you move on.”

They admit the hardest part of being the hosts of a daytime talk show has been pulling back the curtain on their personal lives and sharing them on-air with each other and the audience. For Grelo, that meant a shift in thinking and departing from the typical news anchor mentality of reporting without injecting any personal opinion.

At the other end of the scale is Lui: co-hosting The Social has just confirmed what she already knew.

“I already knew that I had no shame,” she admits. “I have talked about my bowel movements to the point that our viewers know my favourite thing to talk about is poo, and my sex life to the point that everyone knows who I would have casual sex with if I wasn’t married.” Revealing those intimate secrets–and bodily functions–has led to a connection with viewers none of the hosts anticipated. Sure, they knew fans would have opinions and feedback but they were still surprised. Loyst points to her Season 1 blog about breastfeeding as an example of a topic that stirred plenty of discussion.

“That is what makes this show so unique,” she says. “There is this constant conversation happening with our audience. Viewers have watched my son grow from three months to 15 months. People definitely feel and intimacy or kinship with me because they know my family.” Expect more of the same in Season 2, teases Grelo. This past year has been the ladies’ introduction to viewers. Any nervousness they had about connecting with an audience is gone; fans know who they are as broadcasters and people.

“I think people will be watching in an even more engaged way,” Grelo says. “There will be thoughtful discussion about interesting topics that are going to affect you in the bedroom, the boardroom, your living room and we’ll continue to engage with our viewers via social media and amazing celebrity interviews.”

Season 2 of The Social airs weekdays at 1 p.m. ET on CTV.

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