Tuesday 17 September 2019

Waking hours with Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon (40) is a freelance TV presenter, producer and writer. Currently, she works for Virgin Media Television and RTE Television. She lives in Dublin with her husband Richard

Lisa Cannon. Photo: Kip Carroll
Lisa Cannon. Photo: Kip Carroll

Ciara Dwyer

I should get up at 7am with my husband Richard, but instead I'm awake at 8am. I have something light like porridge, coffee and orange juice. Then I shower, clean up after the dog and dress myself. I put on a bit of make-up, pack the bag and I'm out the door.

At the moment, I'm working for Virgin Media Television [formerly TV3], producing and presenting Box Office, a weekly movie show. And I'm also an arts reviewer on RTE's Today with Maura and Daithi. I suppose it's quite unusual to work for both national networks at the same time, especially as I was very heavily branded with TV3. I'm proud to work for both of them.

This is the life of the freelancer. You sometimes have to pitch yourself and propel yourself into different countries, different stations and different publications and see what's going to fly. Sometimes you have one bus operating and then five come along. You have to manage your own schedule. Sometimes you have too much work and you can't handle it, and other times you have too little work.

I've been very lucky because my show Box Office has returned. Before that I had some time out - to think, travel and to create. Also I reached out to publications, and now I write for several magazines and newspapers. It's probably something that I should have done long before, but I was so busy working for the last 12 years.

For the film show, I go to screenings and I fly to London a lot to interview actors. They are very in-depth interviews. I've got a masters' degree in film and I've got a BA in drama and theatre studies, so I use that knowledge to dig deep. I'm very good at disarming people in interviews and I also have a bit of fun. I don't want the interviews to be so serious that nobody can relate to them.

A day in London for film interviews can be very tiring. I get up at 6am, lock up the house, get a minder for the dog, drive to the airport, park the car and bring some snacks because I am going to be starving. I bring my passport, eyelashes, make-up and make sure that everything is under 100ml. I wear runners so I can get on and off escalators and I bring high heels, so I look the part when I'm interviewing.

Usually I get my hair blow-dried the night before and then I sleep in pin curlers. I'm like Vera Duckworth. In the airport, when I go through security with the curlers on, they always bleep. People laugh but I don't care. I haven't cared for years. I'm just concerned with the finished product.

I do my make-up on the plane. Then when I get to London, and on to the Dorchester Hotel or Claridges, I go into the bathroom, take out my hair, change, and put on the high heels.

It really is trains, planes and automobiles to get where you need to for just four minutes with a star. Then, when you've got that, you turn on your heel and come all the way back again with the tape. I edit it myself. It takes a 15-hour day to get that interview, which ends up as two minutes and 30 seconds.

Ninety per cent of the actors have been wonderful. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Mark Wahlberg were all great. Beyonce was so normal. She told me that after a concert, she scrubs off her make-up, gets into her fluffy pyjamas and watches a movie while eating a burger.

But some stars have just not been on form and I haven't been able to salvage those interviews. I found Kevin Spacey to be rude and truculent. I extended my hand to shake his but he never reciprocated. He made me wait in silence. Eventually, he pushed his glasses down to the end of his nose and said, 'OK, I'm ready. Roll.'

I just thought that it was no way to speak to someone, no matter who you are. Another female journalist came out of her interview with him in tears. I wouldn't interview him again, and I'm not surprised that he is where he is today.

My life is very busy. Sometimes people say that I don't go out that much but what time do I have? One day a week, I drive to Cork to do Today With Maura and Daithi.

For that 12-minute slot, it takes six hours on the road altogether. I might have to read a book or go to a play for that. There's quite a bit of preparation involved but I love it all.

Recently I won an IARA award - an international award of recognition in the arts. It's a big deal and I fought off some stiff competition in the UK, so I was chuffed.

I'm very passionate about humanitarian work, so I was delighted to participate in Goal's public art project, What on Earth? I worked with the artist Adebayo Flynn and we designed a globe with vibrant colours. It's important to look after the world and all that is going on in it.

When I have time off, I like to be with my friends. I might go to the cinema with Richard or we'll do something simple like go for a walk and read the papers together.

I usually go to bed quite late. I'm trying to fix that at the moment. I do meditation to go to sleep, as my mind comes awake at night. The creative juices flow so that's when I start writing.

I like to read in bed. I'm reading a few books at the same time - one by Oprah, a manifestation book, and another one called The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret.

When you are running and rushing, you get very lost, so I'm trying to connect emotionally and spiritually. When I invest in myself, it serves me better.




The live auction for Goal's 25 'Golden Globes' takes place at Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2, on November 21

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