A Few Minutes With...Dana Giesbrecht

Winnipeg alumni Dana Giesbrecht came this close to pursuing a career in medicine, but fortunately for us--not so much for countless sick folks--she stuck with the TV industry and has since graced Edmonton with her natural charm and million-dollar smile!

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN


Dana Giesbrecht is host and producer of
'Go! Edmonton' on Shaw TV.
"I FELL forwards onto my boobs and was like a centimetre away from chipping my teeth on the ice," admitted Go! Edmonton host Dana Giesbrecht, when I asked her about awkward on-air moments. "I just rolled with it." I'm not at all saying that that sums up Dana in a nutshell, but her general authenticity and subtle self-deprecation were on full display when she laughed about that blunder and other such mishaps during her career as one of the most genuine TV folks I've ever met.

Those sorta attributes seem to be hard to come by for those in so public a career, but Dana has made them a part of her pubic persona, which is one of the reasons why I--and I'm sure many others--tune into Go! Edmonton (on Shaw) whenever I can. Her movie star looks probably don't hurt either. 

So I thought I'd do you a favour, Edmonton, and help you get to know this over-achiever on a more personal level, like we like to do here at 'I Heart.' Dana graciously took some time out of her busy day as host of the hyper-local TV show that she also produces, and sat down with me to answer some hard-hitting questions on subjects that ranged from Leonardo DiCaprio to donair shops!

So, before you post another selfie with your bathroom's towel rack in the background, I suggest you take some time and see what all the fuss is about, as we spend a few minutes with...Dana Giesbrecht...

PART I:

IE/ How did you know, growing up, that this would be the industry that you would get into, and that it would be a good fit for you?

DG/ I had no idea! I was such an awkward child...and I'm still an awkward adult...I don't feel like I'm one of those naturally confident kind of people that should be in this role. I wanted to be a writer, and that was my thing. I used to read books and books and books, and decided when I was in grade 10, I wanted to pursue writing. So I started to do articles for the local newspaper and was getting everything in order for Winnipeg's Creative Communications Program. That's at Red River College. It was a very competitive program to get into; they only accept 75 people a year, so it's barely ever people straight out of high school. I was the only person right out of high school to get in. I had a pretty good portfolio, because I worked for the newspaper, so I had lots of published print articles.

IE/ So you worked for the newspaper when you were in high school?

DG/ I should back track even more: I grew up in a small town called Carman, Manitoba...it was a small town, small newspaper, so they were like, 'oh sure, go cover this knitting group, or pot luck for charity,' or whatever. I covered sports, and I covered small town kind've events, so I had quite a few articles that were published, and that looked good in my portfolio. So I was accepted into the program, and that was crazy! It was two years of public relations, advertising, broadcasting, and journalism. I still thought I wanted to be a writer, but I always really enjoyed cinematography...I've always been a huge movie person, so I kind've blended the two.


A lil' foretelling? Dana's dream job would be to
serve as host of 'Entertainment Tonight Canada.'
I had fun being in front of the camera. This was back when Winnipeg had their 'Canadian Idol' auditions, so I did this really fun piece where I just talked to people at the mall about 'Canadian Idol'; it turned out really good, and that was one of the pieces I used to apply for my first job in television...and they hired me, straight outta school!

IE/ And it came natural to you, to talk to people on camera?

DG/ No! No! I feel as though I've had this stumbling, bumbling career. When I first got hired in television, my first job was in Kenora, Ontario, two hours outside of Winnipeg, so it was close enough for me to drive home on weekends, which I did every weekend for three and a half years. When I first started I think I was doing like 25 takes to do the intro of the show...they hired me as host straight outta school for a nationally broadcasted TV station, and it was a lot of outdoor, adventure-type stuff...canoeing, biking, rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing, dogsledding, kite-surfing...lots of wild stuff for a little small town girl. I was doing everything! I always put myself 100% into whatever the situation is. If people are having a pie-eating contest, I'm gonna get right in there and eat 10 pies!

IE/ If you weren't doing this, what do you think you would be doing instead?

DG/ I don't know, that's a good question. My boyfriend often says, 'Dana, your job isn't like a real person's job, you're not doing real work' [laughs]. 'You're way too spoiled, you have fun every single day.' It's a great thing, I love my job, and I'm very passionate about it.

I don't know, I love people, I love helping people. I'm a people person. I often thought if I was back in school I would get into medicine, or something in that direction. When I was two years into my career I was going through an early quarter-life crisis, and I wanted to quit my job and go back to school. I gave my boss two weeks notice, I applied for all my courses at the University of Winnipeg, I made sure I could get into all the classes I needed to in order to pursue medicine, and I remember going to the U of W and was like, 'Holy crap, I do not want to be a student again.'


"I always put myself 100% into whatever the situation is. If people are having a pie-eating contest, I'm gonna get right in there and eat 10 pies!"

It all just came to the top and I realized I did want to continue my career in television and not switch careers at the age of 22, even though I was still pretty young. So I asked my boss, three days before my two weeks notice was up, if I could have my job back, and they gave me my job back. So if I was to switch careers it would probably still be to switch to medicine, if I wasn't doing this.

IE/ Do you remember your first time in front of a camera, on air?

DG/ We had this one exercise when I was still in school, and it was the first time in which we could actually do something on camera, and they gave us this information about the avian bird flu, and I had all these stats. I think it was like 10,000 birds have been slaughtered, and bla bla bla...and I went up there and said, '10,000 birds...FUCK!' And everybody just burst out laughing. I couldn't remember, I got really nervous. So my first experience of trying to impress people in front of the camera, I just laid out an 'F' bomb!

IE/ Have you ever had an awkward, crazy, or embarrassing moment on air?

DG/ Usually those takes don't go to air. Oh, I have a good one, on my blooper reel. I was doing some curling...there was a big curling tournament coming up to Ontario, so we were pre-promoting it, and I was curling with the senior ladies' curling team. I was wearing these funny, cute little boots; I've never dressed appropriately for what I'm doing, always trying to be somewhat fashionable...so I was wearing these awful boots to be wearing on a curling rink, and I was talking to the camera, and then WHOOP! I fell forwards onto my boobs and was like a centimetre away from chipping my teeth on the ice. I get up and she asks, 'Are you okay?' And I tell her, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, moving on...okay, what were we talking about? Coming up next...' [laughs]. And we kept it....I just rolled with it, and so did the camera person.

I enjoy embarrassing myself on camera...'cause I'm not trying to be an expert at anything I do. I'm just trying to have fun, and hopefully people watching have fun with me. I don't take myself too seriously, I never have. I'm a very clumsy girl.


Dana at work with pop star Cody Simpson.
IE/ If you could interview any three people in the world, who would they be?

DG/ I would interview Leonardo DiCaprio, because he's gorgeous...I just wanna get a one-on-one with him [laughs]. Julia Roberts, because I've always been a diehard fan; I love 'Pretty Woman' and I love to quote all of her monologues. And, Cheryl Hickey, because she's hosting 'ET Canada' and that's the job I want one day.

IE/ What do you think about the state of reality TV now?

DG/ I love reality TV. I'm so addicted to Slice. 'Real Housewives of...' whatever, I have them all PVR'd; I love 'Til Debt Do Us Part'...I love financial shows. I watch way too much TV, by the way. Because it's so expensive to produce sitcoms, it's way cheaper to do reality television; it's also a way for these channels to produce their own content without busting the bank, and it's interesting to see the way TV and the Internet are going, because I would say in 4-5 years there's not gonna be anything different; TV and the Internet will be synonymous. You will watch all your shows online.

IE/ Would you ever do a reality show?

DG/ Sure, 100%.

IE/ 'Big Brother'?

DG/ Maybe. I'd rather host 'Big Brother.' I actually can't be on 'Big Brother,' because Shaw owns Slice, and Slice produces 'Big Brother,' and because I am already a paid employee of the company, I can't apply to be on reality television shows. But I'm not a bitchy, gossipy girl, so I don't think I would do well on those shows.

IE/ What show would you be on?

DG/ I would totally be on 'Real Housewives of Edmonton.' I'm not a housewife and I'm not filthy rich, but I could be the one poor girl who tries to get in with the rich girls [laughs]. I would 100% do reality television...I just think it's fun. Why not?!

IE/ What is your favourite thing about Edmonton, and do you think there's something here that stands out from other places that you've been to?

DG/ Edmonton is very much like Winnipeg, and Winnipeg is my heart and soul. [Winnipeg's] just like this very flat prairie city, and it's full of hipsters and musicians and artists; it's a very granola-feeling city if you're from there, and I'm sure outsiders would say, 'What?! Winnipeg is not like that'...but when I was living there it was such a great experience.

When I moved to Edmonton I found Edmontonians are very much like Winnipeggers...I felt it was sort of a sister city to Winnipeg, so I felt immediately very comfortable here. It's because I do care about Winnipeg so much.

Stands out? I'm one of those people who's always on a weekend trend or whatever, and so I started running, and the trail systems here are incredible. Being outside and getting that real sense of community as you run through neighbourhoods, as you run up and down the stairs with the 900 other sweaty people trying to lose 5 lbs. It's got this wonderful sense of community and I really admire that. It makes you feel at home when you're not from here. It's such a beautiful, widespread city, but once you hit the river valley and everything opens up, and you see the real beauty of the city, I think that's my favourite part. And you have a donair shop on every corner...there's not even a donair shop in Winnipeg!

IE/ No donair shop? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!

PART II:

IE/ Favourite movie of all-time?

DG/ 'Forrest Gump.' I love it, it's got a great soundtrack, the cinematography is amazing, it's just so well-acted...and the characters and the arc and the storytelling and the narration...I love narration in films. All my favourite films are narrated by the main character. I think that is the best movie I have ever seen. I also love 'The Sandlot' and I also love any mob movie out there...'GoodFellas,' 'Casino,' or any of those.
Dana's favourite movie is 'Forrest Gump' (1994).

IE/ TV show you never miss?

DG/ 'Real Housewives of...' whatever. I was kinda into 'The Walking Dead,' but it's let me down hard. I was into 'Californication' a few years ago, and 'The Sopranos.' I'm a TV junkie for sure.

IE/ Your guiltiest online pleasure?

DG/ Shopping. I come into work early and right after I check all my emails, I'll quickly check all my favourite sites to see if they have any new uploads. I love clothes, I'm a girly girl.

IE/ The first or the last CD you ever bought?

DG/ I think Mariah Carey's 'Rainbow' was the first album I ever received. The last one on CD, I have no idea. I don't think I want to answer, because it's probably super embarrassing.

IE/ What was the best concert you ever went to?

DG/ The White Stripes. I saw them on their very last touring spot before Meg's sex tape came out, and they were just amazing. They were at the Winnipeg MTS Centre... phenomenal. I'm such a Jack White fan, I love the White Stripes. I love indie music.

IE/ What country would you want to visit the most that you haven't already been to?

DG/ All of them. I have been so career-driven the last five years. My plan was to go backpacking across Europe when I got out of school, but I got a job right out of school, and you can't turn down a job in TV coming straight out of school. And all my family is in Manitoba, so I feel as though all my holiday time is eaten up by Winnipeg, so I haven't done a lot of travelling yet. I will find time at some point. I'm just gonna have to take a sabbatical or something.

IE/ If you could hang out, for one day, with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

DG/ Robert Downey, Jr. I think he would be a hoot.

Thanks, Dana!


Below is a video collage of Dana's work on Shaw's 'Go! Edmonton.'

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