If you’re like us and can’t get enough of the biggest nights in entertainment, chances are you’re familiar with Alecia Davis. She regularly interviews some of the industry’s most famous faces both on and off of the red carpet for Extra TV. She’s also been a host on many shows for CMT, E! News Live, TV Guide Network, TLC and multiple special event airings. No one in Nashville knows the ins and outs of major on-air moments better, which is why The Nashville Edit has engaged Alecia to be our special correspondent and contributor for the star set. Look for her insider access to all things celebrity on our pages going forward. Here, she shares just a bit of her own experience as a host and journalist, as well as tips on everything from staying camera-ready to her regular Nashville routine.
How she got started:
I started my career at fourteen years old, working as a model/actress and became a TV host when I auditioned to be host of CMT’s Hit Trip, in 2000. Thankfully, I got the job!
A typical red-carpet day:
If I’m covering a red-carpet event, it begins with a cup of coffee and hopefully a small breakfast because I won’t be eating for many hours. I review up-to-date headlines and my questions. I check wardrobe and accessories, and make sure I have everything I may need. I usually have backups, just in case (like shoes, umbrella, jewelry, tape, mints, safety pins, etc.) I take a shower, do make-up/hair or have a make-up artist do it. I get dressed and drive to the event (which can be tedious, we usually have to walk a couple blocks (that doesn’t sound difficult, but it can be difficult carrying bags in stilettos. I arrive and find my place on the carpet and greet my crew and fellow journalists. I set up my station and check in with my boss and producer for last minute updates, and then it’s non-stop for the next 8-10 hours on your feet!
What she’s learned:
I’ve learned quite a few important things! First … we’re all human and we’re all imperfect. Try not to be too hard on yourself (which I battle all the time). That said, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and enjoy the journey. Remember to keep things in perspective, I work in the entertainment industry. I’m not curing cancer. I also try to give people the benefit of the doubt. We all have bad days and we deal with them differently. Make sure to embrace the good moments – to take them in and be thankful, and to learn from the not so good times.
Personally, my parents are very supportive and give me great perspective. Professionally, I have tremendous respect for Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks and Hoda Kotb. They are all true professionals with a heart for people and the business. They understand and are involved in many aspects of the business, yet they are sincerely personable, humble, grateful and grounded.
On social media:
Social media has definitely impacted the business, and I’m honestly not that great at it. I think it’s helped engagement in the sense that it’s “in the moment”, immediate and casual, but I think in other ways it’s cheapened the industry as a whole. People are quick to dismiss experience in favor of followers. Just because someone has 1 million followers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re qualified. And, it sometimes makes me feel inauthentic. I like highlighting other people, but social media forces one to focus on self and status as a way of validation, which I don’t really care for. I can see its relevance, but I think there should be a balance.
On challenging assignments:
I’ve been extremely fortunate. Covering live events can be challenging just because you never know what’s going to happen, even when you’ve prepared. Another challenge may be when you can tell the person you’re interviewing is having a bad day and they’d rather be anywhere else or when you have to ask a question that you don’t want to ask. For instance, if I’ve known a couple who is in the public eye and they decide to divorce and it’s going to make headlines, that can be a little tricky. I try to be respectful and at the same time do my job.
Most memorable interviews:
One of my most memorable interviews was with Dolly Parton. I have admiration for most everyone I interview, but I’m not easily star-struck. Dolly is the exception. She is a true icon, so smart and down to earth. I began interviewing her just over ten years ago. I was honored to do a full biography special on her, so it was a lengthy sit-down interview. She walked in, introduced herself and said, “I know your name is Alecia, but you look like Jolene”, which she has remembered and playfully calls me Jolene when I see her. During that first assignment, she was so personable and instead of feeling like an interview, we ended up talking woman-to-woman. I remember feeling anxious about the fact that I hadn’t had children and her outlook through her own experiences made me feel so much better. She explained that she too had not had children but decided she could be influential to all children. She’s done exactly that with her extended family and through her charity work, including her Imagination Library.
I also got to interview Kirk Douglas. My father was visiting me in LA and was able to go along and meet him, as well. That was pretty special.
And then there was the time I was assigned to interview Julie Andrews, and she was just as wonderful as you’d imagine. And I recently interviewed Sissy Spacek, which was a full-circle moment. I got to tell her that when she was in Nashville filming “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”, that I was in that movie, too, as a little girl in the crowd where she signed an autograph for me. I still have it to this day. She is so sweet, then and now.
Currently working on:
I continue to love my job at Extra and I’m working on some things for them, as well as a couple of passion projects. I’ve been fortunate to be able to use my experience and work with celebrities and people in the public eye teaching media training. I often interview people that I’ve previously trained.
Favorite annual event:
I love many award shows, for different reasons. I love the CMA’s, ACM’s, CMT’s, Golden Globes, Oscar’s. One fundraiser that I’m particularly fond of is Music Cares because it helps so many musicians and people in the entertainment industry. They also do a great job of honoring a musical icon’s career where various artists sing the icon’s songs; it’s a fabulous event. This year they honored Dolly Parton!
I’m fortunate to count on great stylists who pull my favorite designers. For everyday interviews, I favor wardrobe pieces from Helmut Lang, Black Halo, Chanel, Joie and Paige. For award shows work, I love designers Zac Posen, Monique Lhuillier, Balenciaga, Armani, Alexander McQueen, Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana. That said, I also rely heavily on my friends at The Showroom in Nashville.
Hair and makeup:
Rodney Mitchel Salon is my go-to for styling as well as year-round maintenance. I use a wide range of cosmetics including Georgio Armani makeup, Nars, Aveda, Channel, Mac, Aveda Lip savor, the list goes on. Regular facials are key, too.
I love to hike, and recently ran into the trainer I used to work with … I need to give him a call! I also practice staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and eating clean. I always try to have protein on days I’m working, usually eggs or a protein bar to keep my energy up.
I always carry a kit in my car. It contains all kinds of things: extra shoes, socks, hairspray, Kiehls hair products, Mac powder, safety pins, tape, under-garments, nail polish, remover, mascara, deodorant, bottled water, mints and other must-haves. I often interview up to 80 people on a red carpet and when your adrenaline kicks in, your mouth can get dry. Those mints or breath strips can be handy. A tip for avoiding on-air mishaps is to consider how what you are wearing functions over long hours on the carpet. If you’re wearing something strapless or backless and you opt for the “stick on” bra cups … word to the wise, they fall off if you sweat.
When she’s not working:
I have an appreciation for music so I’m fortunate in my line of work that I get to go to many concerts, showcases and industry events. I’m also very content just being at home, cooking (or not) and watching a movie. I enjoy photography and writing, so I try to make time for that. I love hanging out with friends at restaurants or playing games like Rumi-kub and Scattegories. I enjoy a good theater show, museums and taking in some history. For active fun, I like bowling, roller skating, horseback riding and anything involving dogs (lately I’ve been doing a lot of dog-sitting for friends).
For dining out, I have many favorites. A few of my regular haunts include The Palm, Virago, Adele’s, 404 Kitchen, Husk, 5th and Taylor, Fido, Frothy Monkey and Cup Cake Collection to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I have people visiting from out of town, it’s fun to take them to The Ryman, Country Music Hall of Fame, The Grand Ole Opry, Tootsies, Robert’s, Downtown Franklin, Jack Daniels Distillery and Monelles.
Life is meant to be lived; live it well, be appreciative, be kind.