The Korean-Australian anchor of E! News Asia, Yvette King, 30, tells us about the celebs who left her starstruck, rude managers, and the early hardship she faced in her career.
8 DAYS: As the host of E! News Asia, you’ve spoken to countless superstars. Who left the deepest impression on you?
YVETTE KING: I don’t know what is it about celebrities, maybe they sprinkle their fairy dust on me, and I become starstruck with them, but the biggest one of late will have to be Tom Cruise. He’s a bona fide movie star and he’s been doing this stuff for decades but he still showed up on the red carpet one hour early to sign autographs for everyone [during The Mummy’s premiere in Taiwan]. He took a selfie with everyone and didn’t leave anyone out. He’s very generous with his time. In fact, after my sit-down interview with him, he stuck around and had a casual chat with my producer and I for 15 minutes. He really impressed me, ’cos he doesn’t have to be like that anymore. I’ve met many celebrities and you can tell if they’re just going through the motions, but Tom doesn’t make you feel like that. He’s really, really amazing. After the chat, I feel like he could be my BFF! (guffaws)
Which celeb didn’t turn out as nice as you thought they would be?
I’ve been pretty lucky. I mean, I was quite scared to interview Mariah Carey because she’s such a huge celebrity, and I was already a big fan of hers, growing up listening to all her hits. But she turned out to be quite hilarious. So most of our conversation was spent laughing and having a great time. In fact, she offered me a glass of champagne when I walked into the room so things got off to a good start (laughs). My worst experience wasn’t with the celebs themselves but with the managers. Once, I was interviewing Dev Petel in a theatre and the announcement started going off for everybody to go inside, and his manager just walked in front of the camera and told us that the footage couldn’t be used. It’s very unusual for someone in the industry to walk into a shot once the camera is rolling, so I was quite shocked.
Have you ever blanked out while meeting stars on the red carpet?
I’ve never really made a mistake in terms of having nothing to say. My brain always manages to conjure up a question. But I did have a moment when I was interviewing David Beckham, where I was looking at his face, and he was answering my question, and I just had this thought flash through my mind: “Oh my God, that’s David Beckham.” (Laughs)
You started your media career in Sydney where you grew up. What made you move to Singapore?
Yeah, I did a degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and then worked in Australia before I came here. I wanted to come to Singapore because I’m Eurasian, and every time I came to Asia, every MTV VJ would look like my brother or sister (laughs). Even when I took cabs, taxi drivers would ask if I was a TV host. That made me think that perhaps there’s an opportunity to work in Asia, so I moved here.
You got the coveted job as the host of E! News Asia two years ago. How did that come about?
I got an e-mail for a casting for How Do I Look? Asia, so I sent in my audition tape but they wrote back and said that I’d be way more suited for E! News. I was very excited ’cos that’s my dream job! [Former E! News anchor] Giuliana Rancic was the reason I went into journalism. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an opening then, and they told me they’d keep me in mind if there was a vacancy. Then, Erin Lim, the previous E! News Asia host, got picked to go to Los Angeles, and the spot was up for grabs. So I did my audition together with more than 100 other hopefuls. I was nervous as hell. After the audition, they told me they’d make a decision in two weeks but I didn’t hear back from them. It really sucked. Then suddenly, I got a call from them, and they sent me off on an assignment. I got approved and that’s how I got the job! It was really nail-biting and a super stressful time but it all worked out for the best (laughs).
What was your first assignment then?
It was probably one of the hardest interviews you could do because the interviewees didn’t talk — I had] to interview the Minions. To do [that], you’ve got to get creative, and that was my big test. So I made a joke about it. In my interview, I said: “Oh these big time celebrities, they don’t like to disclose much.” I just made fun of the situation, went there and had a lot of fun with them. We ended up dancing during the interview and it turned out to be quite a fun little piece (chuckles).
It sounds like you’re cut out for this line. Has your media career always been this smooth-sailing?
No, I’ve had many moments of self-doubt in the past, moments where I wondered if I should just give this up and get a ‘real’ job. I’ve faced so many rejections while chasing this dream. Early in my career in Australia, I was working in a TV station. The head honcho there asked me point blank what my dream job was. I told him I wanted to be an entertainment reporter. He was this overweight guy — by his own admission — and he said: “Look, I’m over 100kg. The chances of you becoming an entertainment reporter are as likely as me losing 30kg.” It was quite [harsh] for a young girl with hopes and dreams! But I used that rejection to spur me on. In fact, I was like, “I’ll show you what I can achieve!” (Laughs)
Catch Yvette King on E! News Asia on E! (Singtel TV Ch 328 & StarHub TV Ch 441).