When United Kingdom born Carly Steel hopped across the pond at age twenty, she could not have imagined that a chance meeting in a Starbucks with Giuliana Rancic would help to begin her whirlwind television career (Rancic helped arrange an interview for Steel at E!, where she started out as a producer). But don’t go assuming Steel got where she is today based on luck.
Carly Steel is as intelligent and tenacious as she is easy on the eyes and a quick internet search of her name will show that she just might be one of the hardest working women in the entertainment industry today. Her resume is a literal who’s who of prominent media outlets, having worked for Vogue, E!, and TV Guide Network (just to name a few), she regularly interviews (and hob nobs with) Hollywood A-Listers, and can be seen in the best dressed lists of more magazines than I was able to count.
I caught up with Steel between her many Grammy and Academy Award hosting responsibilities to chat about her life in front of the camera, looking good on the red carpet, and her burgeoning acting career.
The Daily Quirk: Hi Carly, thanks for taking the time to chat with us and letting us turn the tables a bit with the interview.
Carly Steele: Thank you so much for having me!
TDQ: You have been working in show business since you were just eleven years old. Was it something you always wanted to pursue as a career, or did it start out as a fun hobby that became much more?
CS: It was absolutely something I always wanted to do from the age of 5 when I saw Cats at the West End in London, and so began my love affair with show business. I wanted to go to stage school when I was very young, but my parents instilled a sense of being serious about academics first, so I properly started to pursue it when I graduated from University. Fortunately I graduated really young, so it wasn’t too late of a start!
TDQ: You just got back from Sundance, hosted the Whole Food’s Pre-Grammy Awards Event, and in a few days you’ll be a host for TV Guide Network’s Oscar Show with Chris Harrison (I’m sure you did a bunch of other events in between too!). How do you keep up with such a busy schedule?
CS: Multi-tasking is key (and is a skill I’ve had to acquire as it does not come naturally). I just try to take each thing as it comes and give it my full and complete focus and then quickly move onto the next. Fortunately I really love what I do, so working on these things is a pleasure!
TDQ: Hosting award show red carpets has to be an incredible experience. Do you still get star-struck at all?
CS: Of course! But less from the stars themselves and more from the pressure of wrangling them for interviews and getting in all the questions while maintaining a relaxed and conversational air! Although I recently interviewed Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis and did feel nervous anticipation as they came down the carpet as they are both such legends and so genius. There is more pressure to deliver in those situations.
TDQ: Have you experienced any particularly crazy or zany red carpet or interview moments you can tell us about?
CS: It’s rare, but yes absolutely! Recently I was at the Oscar Nominee luncheon for poolside 1:1 sit down interviews for TV Guide Network, interviewing the talented young star of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ Quvenzhane Wallis. It had been a long shoot – the whole day – and Quvenzhane was carrying a dog-shaped bag with her, which has become her awards season staple. We wanted to do a little style feature on her, so I meant to ask her about “taking the term Doggie Bag to a whole new level this season,” but instead said, “you are taking Doggie style to a whole new level this season!” She is 9 years old, and her mother was standing right there, and I was mortified. I could see my producer and makeup artists’ mouths drop out of the corner of my eye because it was a very un-Carly thing to say!
TDQ: You’re regularly featured in the best dressed columns. Any tips you can give readers on looking red carpet ready?
CS: I always opt for what I feel best in and what is more flattering, like the Sherri Hill dress I wore to the Golden Globes, rather than following a specific trend. There are also certain rules for dressing for camera that are different from dressing for real life, for example: avoid bold patterns, stripes, watch the cut and neckline, not too much volume – fitted and sleeker is better. I have an hourglass figure, so I have to be especially careful what I choose, or it can look matronly – girls who are straight up and down have a MUCH easier time of it! It also depends on what mood I’m in – I like to change up my look depending on how I feel and draw inspiration from the past.
TDQ: Can you give us any hint about what you will be wearing for this year’s Oscars?
CS: Scarily I haven’t chosen a dress yet, so I’d better dash off and do that right now! You’ll be the first to know as soon as I do.
TDQ: Besides your many hosting gigs, you have also been busy working on some feature films. You were recently in Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and have a few new projects set to debut. Can you tell us a little about Dumbells and Star Power?
CS: Dumbbells is a comedy feature – my first foray into comedy, and I love it, and that’s all I want to do now! And I’m also in a horror film that’s coming out which is called A Malibu Horror Story – a found footage film in the style of the Blair Witch project. I love both genres and had a lot of fun making both!
TDQ: Is acting something you would like to continue to pursue?
CS: I love acting because it’s an escape from being me and focusing on myself too much, which is part of being a host and can get taxing. I like the freedom it gives you to do and say anything because it’s in the script. I am much more brave in acting than I am in real life! And I feel like such a chameleon in my real life, constantly evolving and changing then I like to explore different heightened aspects of my personality, which particular roles give you permission to do.
TDQ: Do you get to visit the UK much?
CS: Not as much as I would like. I mainly go when I have work there, (like) when I covered The Dictator and James Bond premieres. And I always make a point of stopping over en route to Cannes so I can see my friends who I miss terribly. And for the shopping!
TDQ: If you could spend the day there tomorrow, what would you do?
CS: I would immediately see my friends for lunch, go shopping on Sloane St. then see a play at the West End and go out to a members club for dancing (which is something I rarely get to do in LA as social life here is all about work!).
TDQ: What’s one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?
CS: That I have a very silly side and cheeky sense of humor!
TDQ: What’s next on your agenda? Are there any other projects in the works that you can share with our readers?
CS: With hosting there is always a new premiere, event and film festival! I’m particularly looking forward to covering Cannes this year as I love the atmosphere and international glamour, and it is everything you would expect it to be!