Her hometown is Rothesay, New Brunswick and her career as an entertainment reporter has taken her around the world.
Mary Kitchen was a reporter for Fashion Television and has covered the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Mary was also the entertainment anchor for City TV and was part of the Breakfast Television team. Over the past two years year, we’ve also seen her on The Insider on CBS.
We had a chance to chat with Mary as part of this month’s Top 5. She was gracious enough to share her tips, experiences and perspective on telling stories in the digital world. (We admit we were especially curious about her experience on the famed Rihanna 777 Tour.)
Thank you, Mary, for letting us share a part of your story.
Like many Atlantic Canadians, you are a great storyteller. How did you break into the entertainment business?
I studied English and theatre in school and completed my Master’s in Cultural Communications & Film, so I was always interested in it. I took acting classes from a young age and booked commercials and small roles. One of the first jobs I got hired on was as a spokesperson for a brand, where my job was to talk to the media.
I realized pretty quickly that it came naturally to me and it was much more consistent than acting and that I really loved it.
Between acting gigs I applied to be on a show called Fashion File Host Hunt… and the rest is history!
Telling stories is our job and yours. What is one of your favourite stories that you have had the privilege of sharing with viewers during the course of your career?
I do have some great stories. My favorite moments though, are usually moments where the people I’m interviewing are experiencing something special. I interviewed Jennifer Lawrence right after she won her Oscar, and I happened to be there the moment she saw her family. People don’t realize that when you win, you get whisked away. It was great to speak with her family and see her reaction with the people she most wanted to share her moment with. Covering TIFF has provided a lot of highlights as well—from interviewing Woody Allen to Clint Eastwood to getting into an argument with Julian Schnabel.
Plus, I love screening the movies before everyone else!
How has your job been impacted by Twitter, especially in the world of live news and television?
It’s changed my relationship with viewers completely because I can correspond with them while we’re telling a story and get their direct feedback even as the story is airing.
Obviously, sometimes the digital world shows off an issue – like on the Rihanna tour! Tell us about your experience on that tour? Do you think the digital world has made it harder or easier on the journalists experiencing the entire saga? Was #777 good or bad?
It was a really interesting tour because it ended up that the press became her world tour story. The reason all the stories (or lack of stories) got out so fast is because of all of the digital media, particularly tweeting. It was really interesting to read the headlines about the press not getting information about the tour while we were actually on the tour. We would sit around and read each others headlines out loud on the bus or plane about Rihanna not showing up, or being late for a concert or about the reporters latest shenanigans.
The reason that story got told is because of digital media.
You likely interact with celebrities, brands and industry reps often. Are there any brands, celebrities or digital storytellers you particularly love or just think they do an awesome job of telling their story?
The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) – he’s really interactive with his followers and you can see the joy that he has in sharing. He’s really sincere and you can get to know his personality and how excited he gets about his work. Ellen DeGeneres is good too. I’m not really into selfie celebs, I like a bit more in a tweet.
Visual tools, like Instagram, are powerful in storytelling as well. We love your Instagram account and how it tells your story. Any tips for business, entertainment or political leaders at home that want to improve their personal brand via Instagram?
I really think that viewers want to know who you are – that’s the kind of entertainment I like. I want to see who people really are. If you’re not authentic to yourself, people can sense that. You have to reveal part of yourself.
My advice: Tell/show them something from your workplace they wouldn’t normally get to see.
We want more businesses at home to play with video as part of their brand messaging. You are a pro on camera! Do you have any tips for going ‘on air’ for beginners?
Do your research and really try to be yourself. It sounds cliché, but if you can sound like you’re having a real conversation, rather than presenting information, you connect with viewers much better.
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