By Carol Crenna
As host of Entertainment Tonight Canada, Cheryl Hickey is plugged into the limelight, rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s elite. First a news chopper reporter, she was the only woman in Canada who shot and reported from the sky.
But then she put down the camera to take up the glamorous post in 2005 that allows her to get up close and personal with celebrities like Oprah, Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman.
Cheryl, who is currently pregnant, is married with one child. I spoke to Cheryl about her job, home life, and keeping a healthy balance in our celebrity-obsessed culture.
CAROL: How do you keep in shape to compete with celebrities who have “very personal” trainers?
CHERYL HICKEY: I don’t compete. I have the body that I have. It’s very easy in this industry to get swept up and become self-conscious. And to say there aren’t days when I look in the mirror and go “Geez!” wouldn’t be true. I’m a woman. That’s what we do.
I think it’s very important to have a healthy body image, especially for young women. No woman is built like another: some are larger; some are smaller.
I don’t own a scale. When my pants get a little tight, I know I need to lay off refined sugars or just get out and get active.
When you look in the mirror and don’t feel good, you do something about it instead of complaining.
CAROL: What do you do about it?
CHERYL HICKEY: I hired a personal trainer, but it’s really hard to make it to the appointments with my schedule. That sounds like an excuse, but I am struggling. We work long hours; when we’re on the road, we can work 12 hour days and might work two weeks in a row.
I actually exercise more while traveling because I get into the regimented go-go-go mode, so schedule in workout time. But when I know I can come home and wash off the makeup and really relax after work, that’s what I want to do.
I go through cycles of exercising in between spending time with my family. I use pilates tapes at home which are very effective, and I think yoga is fantastic for body and mind.
CAROL: You openly admit that your hair is really brown, and you don’t really have a tan. How do you feel about celebrity beauty?
CHERYL HICKEY: This might sound cheesy, but I really do just try to be the best that I can be. On the show we do focus on women who are thin and beautiful, but I think it is important to portray the message to young girls that you’re pretty, too.
It’s just a different kind of pretty. And that’s a message that’s been lost along the way.
CAROL: Do you love lotions and potions?
CHERYL HICKEY: You betcha! It’s about maintenance and taking care of yourself, but there comes a point when you have to say, ”I’m pretty great this way, and I’m okay with this or that.”
There are physical things about me that I don’t like, but you have to stand back every once in a while and say, “Shush. That’s enough!”
How do I deal with all of those celebrity women? I just go out there and have a good time! I do stress about what I’m going to wear sometimes. Maddie, a fantastic wardrobe person, and I work to find the dress that fits for the moment.
Whether you feel like a knock-out in a tuxedo blazer and pants or a strapless gown, you have to check with yourself and find out what works.
CAROL: You were a photojournalist.
CHERYL HICKEY: I was in the best shape of my life then.
CHERYL HICKEY: It was a very physical job to lug the tripod, lights, sound equipment and camera. Every time I see a cameraman with all of the gear now I wince, especially in the cold winter or if on location somewhere hot.
If you’re filming someone that likes to talk a lot like me then the poor person has to hold the camera steady the entire time. It takes a lot of upper body and core strength, so I got in fantastic shape.
And when I stopped I really noticed the difference in my body, and had to think of something else to replace it.
CAROL: Did you work out at a gym then to build your strength?
CHERYL HICKEY: I should have but didn’t, and now I’m paying for it. I know the messed-up cartilage problems I’m having now – I have a shoulder that makes interesting noises – are because I didn’t condition my body properly for the job.
As you get older, no matter how well you take care, things start to happen.
CAROL: Do you have spare time?
CHERYL HICKEY: No. But being married keeps things in perspective. We used to love to play golf when we had more time. You can shut down the world when you’re on the course.
CAROL: Do you have a fairly healthy diet? You have said that organic peanut butter and cheese are favourite indulgences.
CHERYL HICKEY: Like everyone, I have my vices. But I’m very conscious of putting healthy organic food into my body. Am I strict about it? No. I also like my sweet potato fries and a good burger once in a while.
I found a place in Toronto called The Pilot that serves an unbelievable basketful of sweet potato fries. Everything in moderation.
CAROL: They’re almost as good when you bake them with a little olive oil. Do you cook?
CHERYL HICKEY: I’m learning, and so I’m experimenting with dinners for family and friends. I have mastered the chicken. My mom is a great cook; when we were kids we ate healthily, and always had salads with each meal to fuel our growing bodies, and now I crave salads.
CAROL: Do you take any supplements?
CHERYL HICKEY: My mother and I do, and so we’re often researching new remedies on the internet and share with each other what we find.
I take a multivitamin I bought from a naturopath working at a store in Toronto who is very knowledgeable, and they recommended the purest form that can be released into the body the fastest.
I take a stress B vitamin complex, vitamin C to avoid colds, and just started taking vitamin D. I have been taking omega-3 for a while, which is amazing for skin, hair, heart and memory. (I need all the help I can get with memory.)
CAROL: Two of your passions are children and animals.
CHERYL HICKEY: Whenever the Humane Society calls, I come running, and think the work it does is really important. Whenever I get calls to promote a children’s charity, I make it a priority.
CAROL: Are you compared to a young Mary Hart?
CHERYL HICKEY: I was when I first started, and it was very much a compliment. She’s maintained an excellent rapport with viewers on that show for over 25 years!
CAROL: How do you intend to keep your energy high enough to host Canada’s version for the next 25 years?
CHERYL HICKEY: It’s all balanced on what you put into your body, how well you treat it, and how much rest you get.
CAROL: Why do you think it’s important that we promote Canadian celebrities?
CHERYL HICKEY: Our show is about introducing Canadians to the national conscience. For a long time, most people couldn’t name five Canadian success stories, and since our show started I think we have boosted Canadian celebrity status and generated a buzz about new talent.
We have so many talented writers, directors, actors, singers, cameramen and producers, and they can finally get excited and say, “We are pretty great, and we don’t have to go to the US to be recognized for that.” If you want to go, that’s fantastic, but we appreciate you here, too.
We have covered Canadian Gemini and Juno Awards galas that are just as glamorous as those in LA.
CAROL: Who have you met that was inspirational on E-Tonight?
CHERYL HICKEY: Oprah, of course. That was a dream come true. And Alicia Keyes; she is very classy, and keeps her personal life to herself. I enjoy interviewing really talented people who are my age, such as Ryan Gosling, who will be one of the biggest actors of our time.
Meeting Lauren Hutton was amazing, but I was also terrified of her because she has been such a force, and accomplished a lot. It was a different time when she began acting – a time when they knew how to turn it on, but then they were allowed to turn it off and go home.
It’s not like that anymore; stars have to be on 24/7. But E-Tonight doesn’t intrude; when we talk to people it’s because they want to promote something so their personal lives are not the focus.
Original article By Carol Crenna first featured in VISTA Magazine