By Joe Leary
Photography by Alfonso Arnold
A broadcast fixture for nearly two decades, Erin Cebula has been seen on screen in all facets of the industry.
Be it Global TV; ‘Urban Rush’; feature reporting for ‘Entertainment Tonight Canada’; hosting HGTV’s ‘Makeover Wish’ or promoting Dream Homes for BC Children’s Hospital Lotteries this ebullient dynamo covers it all.
A graduate of Aldergrove Secondary (ASS); a scholarship to the University of The Fraser Valley eventually led to a TV Broadcasting Diploma at BCIT.
Married in the Maldives in 2004, Erin has now been with her husband Shawn Lee for as long as she’s been on screen.
Together the couple co-owns a boutique real estate brokerage firm called Blu Realty.
We sat for an engaging conversation at the popular Mount Pleasant eatery, AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint.
What enticed you into broadcasting?
EC: I couldn’t describe it as enticed; I was a kid and realized that I wanted to ask questions for a living. I was eight years old and my parents gifted me with a little tape recorder and microphone for Christmas. It started there, interviewing my family on holidays and basically harassing them.
Did you feel there were obstacles for you to overcome versus a male counterpart?
EC: I never felt that that was a stumbling block for me but I never focused on that. I was a sports woman growing up; I did everything that in some eyes would be considered male-dominated activities. I think being a woman maybe helped me in some situations and probably harmed me in others too but I never looked at that as a reason why it didn’t go the way I wanted.
Have you been star struck?
EC: It’s usually musicians that I get a little bit weird about – I gushed over the Canadian band Sloan on ‘Urban Rush’. I was goofy and brought my albums for them to sign and realized that I wasn’t being a reporter, I was being a fan. They kind of made fun of me on air and I remember blushing. That was a big lesson for me. Appreciate; but don’t go in as a fan. You can be impressed – I mean sitting across from Meryl Streep is cool but don’t let it ever overshadow that job at hand.
You had a cameo in the video for Michael Buble’s, ‘Haven’t Met You Yet.’ That’s gotta be on the cool list.
EC: Michael Buble’ became a friend and was one of the first artists that really taught me an interview could be play time. On the set of that video to interview him we were just having our typical, goofy time and at the end he asked, “What else can I do for you?” I jokingly said, “Put me in your video”. He went, “Really, what do you want to do?” I said, ‘I want to dance.” Within seconds he hooked me up with the choreographer! I couldn’t do any of the moves that the real dancers were doing so I was just in the corner, shimmying my shoulders.
Ever experienced someone you were looking forward to meeting falling short of expectations?
EC: I certainly have had that experience, but it’s another lesson. Don’t go in with your expectations in mind with what you think that person is going to be all about because you’re getting a curated, edited version of what you’ve seen in their films, television shows or music. Don’t build people up to the point they can’t live up to. Some in the ‘Hollywood Machine’ are spoiled and used to being told “Yes” all the time. If you challenge them or don’t give them what they need; you might get a little attitude.
You’ve been on the set of ‘Survivor’. Million dollar prize aside how well would you do on an actual season? Can you get down in the mud; spear a fish in the water and make fire?
EC: I am a challenge beast! I’m not afraid! I can swim, climb, I can do it all but I wouldn’t be a great competitor because I’m terrible when I haven’t eaten and don’t sleep. I am a monster and the shiny, happy person that you know Joe, is not the person you would see on ‘Survivor’, so that would hold me back. Jeff Probst (host) asked me the same question because he suggested I should apply and said my social game would be strong. Yes, when I’m well fed and have had my sleep – without that, I’m afraid I’m a way better reporter than player.
Finally, where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?
EC: Developing and running a kick-ass guesthouse/retreat somewhere gorgeous!