'ET' Co-Host Names Her Best and Worst Celebrity Interviews

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'Entertainment Tonight' co-host Nischelle Turner.

Seasoned journalist Nischelle Turner has had plenty to celebrate over the course of her successful career. She's a seven-time Emmy winner, the host of CBS' Secret Celebrity Renovation and, in 2021, she became the first Black woman to co-host Entertainment Tonight, which entered its 43rd season on Sept. 11, 2023. (She's been a reporter for the show for nearly a decade.)

While Turner has made history in the industry, she doesn't necessarily consider herself a trailblazer. "There are some women that I bow down to in every way who have really made a pathway for me to be able to be in the position that I'm in," she told Parade.

Though Turner acknowledged that she's broken barriers, trailblazers to her are the Carole Simpsons, the Oprah Winfreys and the Connie Chungs of the industry. "I just humbly try to step in the footprints that they left behind and pick up those Hansel and Gretel crumbs that they left behind," she said.

Related: Where Is Connie Chung Today? See the Trailblazing Journalist Now

Read on for Turner's thoughts on the ever-changing world of entertainment journalism and her favorite behind-the-scenes moments with some of Tinseltown's biggest stars.

What's one quality of yours that you attribute your success to?

I think one of the qualities simply comes from my upbringing. I was born and raised in Missouri on a farm. I look at the world like folks in the heartland do. And I think that comes through in what I do. I believe in the pageantry of all of this. It still blows my mind that I know the girl that I am and I sit in front of people like Denzel Washington and Charlize Theron and these huge stars. It's like, "Hold on, I was just outside feeding pigs growing up."

Do you still get butterflies to this day talking to certain people? 

Yes and no. The people that I get butterflies with are people that some people may think, Really? But like, I grew up watching soap operas with my grandmother, right? So I get butterflies at people like Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott from The Young and the Restless because I'm like, "That's Victor Newman and Nikki Newman."

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How do you think the media landscape has changed over the course of your career?

Well, I think there are so many people that consider themselves journalists that I wouldn't necessarily call that. But I do believe in the power of journalism still. I always have and I always will.

I think that bloggers and websites and YouTube [channels] and all of those things, they do have their place in this industry and I think that they've shown that over and over again. It can get a little frustrating for us old-school journalists, but we have to move with the times. I mean, I am not the greatest social media user, but I know that Instagram and that social media profile has a big power nowadays, so you just have to evolve with it.

Do you ever feel pressure to keep up with the latest platforms?  

I do. Like I'm not great at TikTok. Every now and then I'll try a little TikTok dance or whatever. But I'm not great at it. My assistant always tells me I need to be better. My manager tells me I need to be better. And I try, but I'm not great at it. I'm kind of boring. So I'm like, "Who wants to see my life?"

How do you think your access to celebrities in the industry has changed since the boom of social media?

It's tougher because they can write their own narrative. They can be their own Entertainment Tonight in a lot of ways, and so it makes us work harder. It makes us work smarter. It makes us have to create even more relationships to still get those big exclusives.

What are some misconceptions you think people have of entertainment journalism?

That we're all glamorous and that we just walk in and jump on a red carpet and we're real cute every day. They don't see when I'm driving in my car and I have to pull over on the side of the road because [the team is] texting me, "We need you to redo this track" and I'm with a coat over my head in the corner of the airport, redoing things. They don't see the fact that I'm up every morning at four-something and I'm reading all the trades and I'm going over everything before our seven o'clock meeting because I treat this job like a beat. I treat it like if I am a political reporter.

And so when you see me sitting down doing an interview with your favorite celebrity, there's probably eight or nine hours of prep time that goes into that. So people don't see that and I think it's a misconception because they think we're the toy department—and in a lot of ways we are, but we work hard at being the best d-mn toy department you're ever gonna walk into. FAO Schwarz, honey, OK?!

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Yeah. And they're not there standing for hours on a red carpet in heels... 

Exactly. No one sees when I'm putting that CBD oil on my feet.

Is that one of your red carpet tricks?

Yes! And you know and who told me that? [The actress] Kaitlyn Dever. She's amazing. And she said, "Here's the trick: You put the CBD oil on your feet and then like your feet are numb and they don't hurt."

Noted for the future. Now, speaking of award shows... What do you think is the future of award shows because we've seen them struggling with ratings and they don't seem to be as relevant for audiences.

Yeah, the pandemic certainly didn't help. You're not gonna reinvent the wheel on an awards show. You're just not. But I think there are ways you can make it fresh, you can keep it moving.

Every year the Academy Awards says they're gonna keep it shorter, and it never gets shorter, but you gotta keep it shorter. You've got to keep people engaged. And you do have to widen the pool of who you're nominating. I think we can't be afraid of comedy, which a lot of times, come awards season, people are. We can't be afraid of tentpole movies. The year that Black Panther came out, [that was] one of the best movies ever made. Two years ago Top Gun: Maverick was the best movie of the year, period. You can't be afraid of those things.

Related: Everything We Know About the 2024 Oscars, Including Important Dates

In your nearly 10 years with ET, what are some of your favorite behind-the-scenes celebrity stories?

There are so many. I'm coming on year 9 at ET this year...I think for me, the biggest thing was when I got invited to Oprah Winfrey's home for her Super Soul Sunday, and I got to take my mother and surprise her. I just told my mom to come visit me here in L.A. and then when we woke up that Sunday morning I said, "Hey mom, let's go to brunch today. Let's drive to Santa Barbara. Let's get cute and go"...[She] had no clue. So we're driving up and as we're turning on to Oprah's property, which is called the Promised Land, I say to her, "Oh by the way mom, we're going to brunch at Oprah Winfrey's house."

She starts screaming, so like secret service-type security run over and they're like "What's happening?" I'm like "I just told her we were here." They're laughing. She's going, "My legs aren't moving. I can't move. I don't know what to do." And it was really the best day of our lives. Sitting next to Jon Bon Jovi on one side and, you know, Sophia Bush is on the other side and I look across and Julia Roberts and her husband are just there and here comes Reese Witherspoon and everybody's just having fun. And it was really one of the best days of my career.

Recently, I was in Italy with Tom Cruise for Mission Impossible. And he's such a nice guy. I just mentioned, "Oh, I saw a picture of you coming out of a restaurant the other night" and he says, "Oh, that's Nino's! It's my favorite. I'm gonna make you a reservation there for Sunday night. You gotta go." So he calls people. He's like, "Make her a reservation, tell them it's me." And he did. He didn't have to do that. It was just really, really lovely of him to do that. And we went. My producer and I had an amazing dinner.

That's incredible. Obviously you've interviewed many people during your time at ET, but if you had to pick one interview that really stands out to you as your favorite, which would it be?

There's a few. I love Denzel Washington so much and I actually think it was the interview with him where he told me his name is not Denzel, it's Denzel [pronounced Den-zull] and that everyone has been pronouncing his name [wrong]. His father's name is Denzel [pronounced Den-zull], so his mother—because there were two Denzels in the house [and] everyone would get it confused—started calling [her son] Denzel [pronounced Den-zelle] so they knew which one was which. That's one of my favorites.

I've had some really fun interviews with James Corden. Any time with Oprah is magical. She's just, she's it.

Related: Oprah Winfrey's Net Worth and How She Became a Billionaire 

I was with the cast of Black-ish kind of from the beginning when they were starting out and I just I love those kids so much. So I just had really great times over the years with them. Marsai Martin [who plays Diane on the show] was my neighbor when I moved back to Los Angeles. So I knew her and her family before Black-ish started and she's, you know, my niece. That's my little one. She's just such an amazing young actress and media mogul.

Is there one celebrity encounter that was not your favorite? Who's your least favorite?

Tommy Lee Jones. It's been that way for a lot of people. You know, he doesn't like to do interviews. He just likes to make his movies. And I would just say, just let him do movies and don't make him do interviews... Like, if you don't want to be there, we don't want to waste our time. We just want to enjoy you as an actor and let's call it a day.

I would never just really dog some out, but that's probably my most difficult interview ever and I wasn't at ET for that.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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