Veronica Chail: Bringing Together Bollywood, Hollywood & Social Change
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT:JESSICA DARMANIN
As the host of Canada’s leading Bollywood TV show Bollywood Boulevard, Veronica Chail has captured the hearts of many with her charismatic smile and passion for all things entertainment. Veronica has interviewed the biggest names in Bollywood and produced several interviews with actors, musicians, politicians, activists and Hollywood heroes. But apart from the glitz and glamor, the Sweden born and raised journalist is a pure humanitarian at heart. One interview was all it took to convince me that she may love the clothes and makeup, but her passion lies firmly in dishing out hard-core entertainment and bringing about social change. I sat down for over an hour (yes, really!) with this vivacious TV host, writer and producer to talk about her role in the media industry and how she manages to juggle many different hats.
Why did you choose to enter the media industry?
I got my Masters degree in journalism. I started in hard news as a news reporter and international news writer at OMNI Television. I then became a producer at the CBC for the “The Hour” with George Stroumboulopoulos. And later I got into entertainment hosting. I feel fortunate to wear different journalistic hats and work in various parts of the industry including hard news, Hollywood and Bollywood. I feel blessed because I get paid to talk to people and tell stories. It’s a pretty sweet gig. Plus I’m passionate about learning new things and in this biz you’re always building your mental muscles and growing as a person. It’s exciting, rewarding and fulfilling.
Now, you're a successful TV host, writer and producer. How do you balance work and personal life?
Striking a balance is something that is really important to me. I work very hard at finding time for my personal life - that includes spending time with my partner, my family and friends. My family is everything to me so I often go down to Stratford, Ontario to spend time with them. But it's a challenge because I'm always juggling multiple things at the same time including production priorities, hosting, guest speaking, charity work and attending countless events.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the media industry?
Not any major challenges outright to my face. However, I think that there are certain aspects and pressures that men don't have to deal with but women do. Being a woman in this industry means you have to be bolder and louder in order to make your mark and to prove you're not just a pretty face. There are so many inspirational Canadian women in the media industry, both on and off screen, like Dina Pugliese, Tracy Moore and Alison Eastwood. This biz is a tough industry to strike a balance in, especially when you want to start a family and have kids. But when you do find a balance, it's definitely worth it.
Your job sounds quite hectic. What kind of hours do you work?
My job is not a nine-to-five. I definitely put in more than eight hours a day. And I often take my work home with me. My job is often unpredictable. That adrenaline rush when you're trying to meet deadlines and putting on a show for our viewers is simply inexpressible. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in a day to get things done. But we do our best to push out a good show because our audience is the heart of my show. All the hours that my team and I put in simply makes it worth it.
What do you do to blow off steam?
I like to jog and workout. It keeps my sanity in check. I feel strong, energized and beautiful after a workout. Apart from that, I love to travel, watch movies, go shopping and EAT! I am a major foodie. And I love how food brings people together.
Has anyone been a great mentor for you?
I am very fortunate to have so many mentors in my life. My mom and sister, for starters, are very confident women who always supported me. And, of course, I wouldn't be able to have such a career without the support of my partner. He keeps me humble and grounded. In the industry, Dina Pugliese from Breakfast Television and Tracy Moore from CityLine are definitely among the women I look up to. They are positive role models and make up the definition of beauty and brains. Mohit Rajhans, my colleague, has been like an older brother to me. He has taken me under his wings. My producers are amazing and I’ve learned so much from them.
You meet so many influential media personalities as part of your job. Which would you say is your most memorable interview?
Well, just like you, I was really hoping to interview Bollywood's king - Shah Rukh Khan. When he came down to Toronto for IIFA 2011, I got to interview him on the green carpets and co-hosted an event with him. The type of people that follow this legendary actor is unbelievable. While co-hosting the event, there were times when I was scared in terms of security. The numerous barricades and security were still not able to stop people from jumping over! I was thinking that I might actually get seriously injured in a stampede with Shah Rukh Khan's fans! But I absolutely adore him. He is very generous, charismatic and sweet. I also enjoyed meeting Michael Douglas, Clive Owen, Morgan Freeman and Snoop Dogg.
I heard you were trying to establish your own anti-human trafficking organization? Tell us about that.
Yes. This is a passion project of mine and I hold it close to my heart. The trade of human beings is simply unthinkable. Canada, unfortunately, is a hotspot for this crime. When one is a victim of human trafficking, their dignity, integrity and respect - the pillars that you stand for as a human being - are stolen from them. This type of crime, on this level, is despicable and needs to stop. I am an ambassador with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and I'm working with different initiatives to create awareness and educate people on this subject.
What other charities and organizations you are working with?
I’m currently working with [free-them] – an initiative that partners with people, organizations and businesses to fight human trafficking – the modern slave trade.
I’m also working with Everyday Child, an education-based charity that follows a simple, yet powerful motto: Learn, Earn, Return. I recently co-hosted the inaugural Everyday Child event. And I work with Miss World Canada's leadership program. I had the pleasure of hosting Miss World Canada 2012 in Vancouver.
Any advice for today's youth who want to enter the media industry?
I would say follow the 3 Ps - Be passionate, be prepared and be persistent. You are going to have road blocks and challenges but you have to work hard in order to be successful. Embrace mistakes and learn from failures as they often push us to be better people.
What are your future plans?
Working on Bollywood Boulevard is my passion and I will continue hosting the show. In terms of future goals - I’d like to have an internationally syndicated talk show that would combine politics, social change and entertainment.
On a personal level - I’m teaming up with one of Canada's leading decor and lifestyle experts Janette Ewen and LA-based designer and artist Jef Hancock to create a Bollywood inspired makeover on my condo – which is very exciting. I also want to travel to India with my parents. I want to experience India through their lens- to see the schools they attended, the cinemas that they visited, the places they shopped at etc. This dream of mine is, hopefully, in the works for 2013.
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