Wedding shots – Photos courtesy of Todd Fraser
ETALK shots – Photos courtesy of CTV
From red carpets to staycations at the family cottage, CTV ETALK’s Danielle Graham shines in every way. With her approachable personality and drive, Danielle has gone from being an intern at the Citytv Toronto newsroom in 2001, to January 2015 when she became the co-anchor, alongside Ben Mulroney, of Canada’s #1 entertainment program as she constantly rubs shoulders with some of the grandest celebrities on the planet. The down to earth momma-to-be so graciously sat with Shespoke to be the interviewee, rather than her accustomed role as the interviewer, to discuss some of her life experiences throughout her years in television broadcasting.
Shespoke: Give us a bit of a backstory on your upbringing/family life.
Danielle: I grew up in Guelph, Ontario, where my whole family is. My mom has a massive Italian family of 10 brothers and sisters, so I grew very family-centric, where we all lived on one street which was pretty fun. All of my education was there; elementary through high school and I came to Toronto in 1999 to go to Seneca college for radio and TV broadcasting.
Shespoke: What had steered you in the direction of broadcasting?
Danielle: We actually had a high school program that had full TV studio, capabilities for editing, shooting, and we were able to do a mock newscast every week, so I kind of got into it then. I liked the idea of having a job that was different everyday. I thought about radio for a bit, I have had this voice since I was 7 years old. It was not nice to grow up with, but I’ve grown into it and has become a great tool for my career. Typically, when growing up when people would call my parents house they always confused me for my brother Christopher.
Shespoke: I recall seeing you on YTV. Was that the beginning for you on television?
Danielle: It was, I came right out of school and believe it or not, that was my very first audition. It went horribly. They asked me if I wanted to start again or leave. I said “I think I’ll just leave.” I guess the fact that I didn’t take myself too seriously and I had fun with it, regardless of how poorly it was going, the producers of the show liked and called me back for a second screening. That one went much better.
Shespoke: How have you evolved from then until now?
Danielle: Well that was 15 years ago, so I would like to say that I’ve evolved immensely in my choice of wardrobe and hairstyles, first and foremost. I think the first publicity shoot I ever did with YTV I wore a one-piece denim jumpsuit. Also, I have honed my interview skills since that time. My first interview ever was Joey Macintyre from New Kids On the Block. I died! I died, and I didn’t listen to a thing he said. I was so nervous and just stuck to the questions that I had memorized. He could have said anything. I didn’t pay much attention, I just thought “next question”. Now I’ve learned that the art of an interview is listening and obviously going in with a plan and carrying it on as a conversation.
Shespoke: You have had a plethora of interviews. Have you had any where you were completely star struck, besides Joey?
Danielle: Well – that’ll be the first one ever and the one that sticks out as a “I cannot believe that this is my life” moment, but a million since then, with most recently Adele. When I sat down with her, she was SO normal. The most real and unaffected person, no big team around her. For one of the biggest stars in the world I must say that I was so impressed by how humble she is.
Shespoke: Have you had any embarrassing moments around stars?
Danielle: I probably embarrass myself all the time. I have flirted shamelessly with people in interviews over the years. I think that’s what they claimed was one of my “go to” moves for a long time. Taylor Kitsch was on of my favourites and Mark Wahlberg, on a regular basis. I think I’ve toned it down a little bit since getting married, but yeah…the shameless flirt. Really my husband [Randall] is ok with it.
Shespoke: Explain your family on ETALK and what it’s like to work with such a group.
Danielle: It’s amazing! Ben’s [Mulroney] like a brother; a second one I never wanted. Ben and I spend a good portion of the day talking about TV shows we love, things that I’m eating and he’s not. He loves to make fun of me and I love to make fun of him. Traci Melchor and I share an office spending most of the day together and she’s my best friend. Lainey lives across the hallway and I adore her. She’s a total brat, and I mean that in the best way, and Liz is like a little sister as well, as such a nice addition to the team. Then of course Devo; our Ken doll. Devon is so great, level headed and mature for his age. We really are like a family even though that may sound cliché. We truly look after one another and share such a supportive environment.
Shespoke: So you are the first woman on ETALK to be pregnant on air. Tell us how everyone has received this joyous news.
Danielle: Everyone is SO excited as it’s ETALK’s first baby, even though it’s not because Ben has 3 children, but it kind of is because I am having the baby. Every step of the way all are so curious from how I’m doing to what size the baby is this week. I am very thrilled to be able to integrate the baby into some stuff onto the show as well.
Shespoke: So I must ask, what have some of your pregnancy cravings been?
Danielle: You know what’s strange? I don’t have cravings as much as impulses, like a Deep & Delicious cake for example at the supermarket. I’ll just get it and eat it. It’s not like it’s premeditated getting that cake, I just I see it, buy it and eat it. That’s what I am, I’m that person. I’ve never really given myself license to eat like this, it’s so fun. I have also been really drawn to citrusy stuff too like pineapple, orange and kiwi but listen, I can take down a 1kg bag of mini eggs with no problem.
Shespoke: How are you preparing for motherhood?
Danielle: I’ve been doing a bit of reading, Randall and I both have been. Talking to friends who recently have had children and like the way they are raising them, as well as the structure in their home, and then spending more time with my mom. I think now I realize how much my mom loves me and it’s such a nice thing. My favourite part of the day is putting lotion on my belly and feeling her moving around in there. I love that so much.
Shespoke: Any plans after the arrival of your baby girl?
Danielle: The baby is due at the end of June, so I am hoping to spend some time up north this summer and split the time from downtown, because it’s so peaceful and quiet there and have people come visit there and get her used to those surroundings. In terms of coming back [to work] I haven’t really figured that out yet. I want to see how all goes after she arrives; how I recover, how I am adjusting, how she is and how life is. Everyone here [at ETALK] has been very understanding about no hard return date, but things I want to come back to next year for certain are the Oscars and the Golden Globes.
ETALK airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on CTV, CTV.ca, and the CTV GO app.