Graziella Kamel is a name that's synonyms with celebrities, television and reporting red carpet events. The Lebanese TV host and presenter currently interviews celebrities for "Take II" program on Dubai TV - which she writes as well, however, she's been into the Arab entertainment world for years now.
We had a little chat with Graziella Kamel, where she gave us a peek into her life, from how she landed her dream job to how she balances between motherhood and her career. Want to know more? Read on...
You’re a journalist in the first place, so how did you break into the world of broadcast media?
I have a BA in Communication Arts/Radio -TV, and I chose this major for the love of "talking." Anyone who knows me well, will tell you without hesitation that once I start talking, making me stop will be a hard task. I love to listen, discuss, exchange info and knowledge about almost everything. I truly believe it's a passion. As for journalism, it's a fundamental pillar, specially that I write my own shows.
As you grew up, what did you always want to be?
I knew since my early years that I would be involved with hosting shows. My mom always jokes about the times I used to vanish and how she used to find me in front of the big mirror in her room, holding a brush in my hand (obviously taking it for a mic), and pretending to entertain a crowd. This passion took a serious path during school where I used to host all the festivities and end of year ceremonies. It grew with me through the years and seemed the right major to study in college, even though it was against my parents will, specially my dad, who still thinks till this day that I should have been a pharmacist or a civil engineer.
You’ve interviewed some of the biggest international celebrities! Did you ever get completely star-struck?
Oh yes! When it comes to Arab celebrities, I was head over heels when I had the opportunity of interviewing the pop star Ramy Ayach. He is such a genuine person; he is smart, witty, funny, charismatic, and not to mention good looking and stylish. I really loved having him on board with me and the cherry on the top was that we are born 5 days apart. As for Hollywood celebrities, it would definitely be the oh-so handsome Gerard Butler. He's so down to earth and so confident in the same time, and I find confidence a very sexy trait in a man.
With such an evolution in social media, how did the business of radio and TV get affected?
Well, social media definitely had its toll on traditional media mediums such as radio, newspapers and television. It's easier to access social platforms for instant updates, and they operate with minimum restrictions and guidelines. But having said that, and even though I completely acknowledge the power and impact of the social media, I can't assume it affected TV viewing, on the contrary, I tend to think it enhanced it somehow by taking advantage of social media, for example, streaming on YouTube, shows hashtags and discussions on Twitter and even links on Facebook that are shared by millions, and accordingly, you end up not missing out on TV shows. It's a win win situation notably when it comes to improvement and innovation TV shows had to implement to remain actively present.
Many people look at your job and think it’s so glamorous. Is there anything they’d be surprised to know about?
Oh, you have no idea! I won't deny the glamour, but it's comes with a pricey tag. Viewers get to see the final product; an episode of one hour or so finely edited and tuned. But in order to deliver this product, there are a lot of non glamorous steps involved: preparations, collaborations, negotiations, early call times and not to mention that punctuality is hugely missed, hence long hours of waiting when it comes to celebrities. Added to all of the above, as TV personalities, we are not allowed to feel tired nor sad. So no matter how we feel, a happy face must be put on. Don't get me wrong, I ain't complaining, my job gives me great pleasure, but it's not "all sugar and spice."
What are the must-have personality traits to be a successful TV host?
That's a hard one to answer since it's very subjective and while I might find someone successful, others may not and vice versa. But personally I think a successful TV host has to have attitude, and I mean it in the most positive way. They have to be self confident, eloquent, intelligent, able to listen and not only talk, be patient, enthusiastic and an avid reader. A successful host is someone true to him/herself, and doesn't copy others. Personally I would chose charisma over vain beauty any given day.
Is it possible to achieve a work-life balance? Do you have any tips to share with us?
It's possible but definitely hard and takes a lot of effort and compromises, specially in the media sector when schedules are not fixed, hence the lack of set plans most of the time. Having said that, my equation to make it work is super easy: prioritize! Set your mind on what you wanna achieve, chase everything that helps you achieve it and disregard everything that doesn't. For me it's that simple, and this is why you don't see me attending every single occasion happening on Dubai scene. If it's work related, I will be happy to show up but if it's just about "increasing the social circle," then I would gladly decline and exchange it for some time with my little princess. I have to say, it helps a lot having a partner that understands the nature of the job and shows support most of the time, regardless the fact that he would like to see more of me at home.
Share with us a quote/motto that you live by.
There are lot! Bukowski's "My dear, find what you love and let it kill you" gives me a huge dose of motivation when I'm feeling low. Also, Gebran's "You may forget the one whom you have laughed with but never the one with whom you have wept," this simply translates life. And Rumi's "Yesterday I was so clever, I wanted to change the world, today I'm wise, so I'm changing myself," and it's applicable in work entourage.
Being a working mother can be quite challenging! How do you make it a less stressful experience?
It definitely is, make no doubt and I believe that anyone saying otherwise is achieving less whether in motherhood or career. As I said before, it's a matter of prioritizing and compromising. Personally, quality takes over quantity. Some days I would only see my daughter for a couple of hours, so I make sure I'm all hers body and mind. It's Her time, Her choices and Her wishes will be my commands and trust me when I say she knows that and takes full advantage of it. I must admit, it helps a lot that she is capable of understanding that mommy has to be absent sometimes due to work. Kids grow fast and they do appreciate once we sit down and discuss it with them.
The top three lessons you want to pass on to your daughter…
1. Be true to yourself, first and foremost.
2. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
3. Don't let anyone dim your light.
What’s the one thing that every woman must try/do at least once in her life?
Every woman should definitely travel solo once in her life (or twice, thrice...), it's very empowering, the fact that you can go by your own pace, discover on your own terms, think by yourself and for yourself....it's very relaxing, enriching and it improves the self esteem.
A message you wish you could tell your younger self…
Actually, there are two messages I wish I told myself when I was younger:
1. My imperfections are perfectly perfect for someone.
2. Crying is not a weakness, let your tears run down your cheeks from time to time and take it easy.