One Woman Band: An Interview with Entertainment Reporter Cassidy Gard

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Cassidy Gard has been working as an entertainment reporter for a number of years, her mega-watt smile making frequent appearances on red carpets and press junkets in Hollywood. She’s also a social media maven, sharing her experiences behind the scenes in the industry with over 400,000 followers on a daily basis. This year, she took a big leap and created her own platform, CiGi TV.

I sat down with Cassidy to discuss her experiences on the red carpet, her advice for aspiring reporters, and what she thinks makes for a great interview!

You’re an entertainment reporter, and I know you’ve been working red carpets and press junkets for a while now. What do you love about working in that field?

2016-10-11-00_52_59-c-a-s-s-i-d-y-cassidygard-%e2%80%a2-instagram-photos-and-videos-and-7-more-pages-%e2%80%8e-mCassidy Gard: At the heart of it, I’m a fan just like everyone else. The only real difference is that I wanted to have access to the other side of the red velvet rope. In New York City, I used to find out when premieres were just to go stand with the other fans to feel the adrenaline rush and energy of the spectacle around a movie premiere. The first one I went to was “Sex and the City: The Movie.” At 18 years old, I remember standing in a swarm of people just to get a glimpse of Sarah Jessica Parker and all the magic that came with her portrayal of Carrie Bradshaw. I had sent my resume to a company for an internship on a Monday morning and by that Friday, I was asked to cover the “My Sister’s Keeper” premiere. My first big interview was Cameron Diaz. I’m always the most excited about people I grew up watching because I just imagine how much my childhood self would be freaking out.

You recently started your own platform, CiGi TV. Can you talk a little bit about how and why you decided to go that route?

CG: As much as I was grateful to be steadily working, I was really disheartened by the lack of creative control I had over producing the segments and cutting the footage. I had a really clear idea for the types of interviews that I enjoyed watching and the questions that would be interesting to fans. A lot of companies are trying to get evergreen interviews that can be licensed out for soundbites so that when networks are cutting packages, it can cut to a celebrity exclaiming, “I love it!” or “I’m thrilled” and then your interview becomes a completely different thing. CiGi TV was launched with my initials C – G and I added the i’s as a phonetic touch. I wanted something that was representative of me but bigger than something like “Cassidy Gard Productions” that was so specific to just one person.
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What do you think makes a great interview?

CG: The number one thing that I strive for is to put my guest at ease. I always imagine my 2 feet of real estate on the red carpet as my home and the celebrity stepping onto my front porch like a neighbor to stop in and chat for a few minutes. It gives a sense of familiarity to the interviews and I try not to take the set up so seriously. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they will be to reveal something new and go a little deeper than the generic interviews we see so often. Sometimes, my interviews probably feel rushed because you might have a publicist telling you to only ask 2 questions but you hope to throw a few more in there for good measure. It takes time to build a rapport and get through the arc of an interview. Four minutes is always the target and you can get some amazing moments out of that with a nice button at the end.

Do you have a favorite celebrity to interview? What made them your favorite?

2016-10-11-00_53_39-c-a-s-s-i-d-y-cassidygard-%e2%80%a2-instagram-photos-and-videos-and-7-more-pages-%e2%80%8e-mCG: I always pay really close attention to what outlets a celebrity decides to stop at and where the publicist is guiding them. Some celebrities stop for networks like “Access Hollywood” and “Entertainment Tonight” and then get whisked away to skip all the digital outlets. The publicist is trying to raise their value by only doing the big shots but the strategic thing to do would be get to know the digital reporters. We hold a lot of power too and can be just as influential utilizing social media to drive traffic. I was on the red carpet for a TV show and the star refused to speak to any of the digital correspondents and only stopped for network. A couple nights later, I was at an event and watched as Tom Hanks made his way down the carpet giving a couple of minutes to all the reporters. No one left that night without an interview. We were all incredibly grateful and there’s a reason he is such an acclaimed movie star also known to be a genuinely nice guy.

I imagine that, especially as a woman, it can be hard to speak up and make sure you get to connect with the right people on red carpets. Do you have any advice for how to be assertive without overstepping?

CG: I have to be hyper focused on the red carpet. I am a one woman band that is shooting the interviews on my Canon 70D, keeping an eye out on arrivals, a list of questions in hand, and trying to make sure that I don’t miss anyone as they walk past me. There have been times I’m in the middle of an interview and out of my peripheral, I see someone that I would really like to interview and usually once they walk past, they’re not coming back down the carpet the other way. You really get one shot and it’s always a gamble. If it’s someone that I know I would really like to interview, I will usually pass on the 2-3 people before them so I don’t risk the chance of losing the interview of the big “get.”

I know you also have a pretty amazing social media following (400,000+ followers!) Can you talk about how that has impacted your career?

CG: Growing a platform helped me the most because I had a built in audience. I didn’t have to depend on anyone else to get my footage up or beg them to help me promote it. I could utilize the amazing followers that have valued my work with the ultimate compliment which is to engage with my videos and share them. Every single aspect of production is just as important as the next. If you have a fantastic interview but you aren’t tweeting it on relevant hashtags to reach the fans that will drive engagement, then it could just sit on YouTube with a couple hundred of views. One of the most exciting parts is seeing the numbers climb by the thousands and seeing comments back and forth between other viewers.

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Any advice for other women who want to get into entertainment reporting? What’s the best thing you can do to get started?

CG: Find your voice and never compromise it for anyone. I’m naturally a bubbly person and I get a rush of adrenaline at the start of every interview. It’s like a rollercoaster, you never know where they are going to take you or what they will reveal. Those are always my favorite moments. I get a lot of comments on how ditzy I come across and I do get overly excited. I love what I get to do and even after 8 years, I’m not burnt out on it yet. In the beginning, just say YES to every opportunity. Some of the greatest leaps in my career came from very small seeds that I planted years before that suddenly popped up unexpectedly. Also, be really kind. This is a small industry and no one will ever forget how you made them feel. It can get hurried and rushed but take a deep breath and ground yourself because at the heart of it a movie premiere is really just a celebration. Don’t forget to have fun.

What are your goals for the future?

2016-10-11-00_52_38-c-a-s-s-i-d-y-cassidygard-%e2%80%a2-instagram-photos-and-videos-and-7-more-pages-%e2%80%8e-mCG: I would like to transition into longer form interviews with actors, musicians, philanthropists, authors, and politicians. I launched “Casa de Cass” as a YouTube Talk Show that was solely shot, produced, edited, and promoted by me on behalf of CiGi TV. It’s been a slow build off the ground because publicists hold the power to book the interview and a lot of them are fiercely protective of their clients. They must immensely trust me as a correspondent to produce interviews outside the safety net of red carpets and press junkets where they have full control of their client. I would love to do interviews with a complete arc from childhood, how their career got started, trials and tribulations along the way, reflection on what they learned, and where they’re at now, to get a full picture of the guest’s journey.

Check out CiGi TV and follow Cassidy on YouTubeInstagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

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Hunter Drago

About Hunter Drago

Hunter Drago is a SAG-AFTRA actress, social media junkie, and a writer. After studying acting at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, Hunter moved to sunny Los Angeles. She has appeared in a variety of films, television shows, and commercials... though she still spends most of her time on the audition grind! She is currently executive producing an all-female film called To The New Girl. Hunter is the Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Ms. in the Biz.