Location: STK, West Hollywood, Los Angeles
We ate/drank: Endless Black Cloud Mojitos, petit filet and truffle fries
Chelsea was perched on a stool in the dark and decadent bar of STK West Hollywood. She was engrossed in something on her phone, her hair cascaded in golden waves shielding most of her face. The light from her phone partially illuminated her face, enough to see that her eyebrows were furrowed in concentration. I weaved my way through the bar towards her but before I could reach her, she sensed I was there, looked up and smiled.
Chelsea has one of those rare smiles that lights up her entire face and always reaches her eyes. It is the kind of smile that immediately puts you at ease and one that you remember long after you’ve parted company.
As the waitress settled us in to our luxurious white leather booth, Chelsea and I fell into effortless conversation. I told her about a particularly hellish morning I had endured and she suggested that we order a round of delicious and intoxicating Black Cloud mojitos.
I have met endless people in the entertainment industry but I am yet to meet someone with a better work ethic than Chelsea. She nonchalantly informed me of a typical day as the face and brains behind phenomenally successful entertainment show Hollywire. Chelsea rises at 5am nearly every day and aims to get into the office by 7am. I physically flinched as she spoke of such painfully early hours.
She burst into peals of laughter at my reaction, she explained: “Well, I film everyday so I need to get in to the office early so that I can write my scripts and be ready to film by around 9am.”
No two days are the same for Chelsea, she has interviewed half of Hollywood’s elite including; One Direction, Kevin Hart, Will.i.am and Zooey Deschanel but it has taken years of blood, sweat and tears to get here.
Whilst Chelsea was at university, she dreamed of working for music powerhouse MTV. She applied for three years in a row in an attempt before she was finally offered the internship. Chelsea’s eyes glazed over with nostalgia as she recalled: “The second year that I applied, I got through to the interview stage but didn’t get it. When I finally got it on my third try, it was honestly one of the best days of my life.”
Whilst working for MTV in New York, Chelsea worked on iconic music show TRL which ignited her passion for hosting. She said: “When I was younger, TRL made me want to get into broadcasting but after working there the connection I had with the host on that show also made me want to host my own show.”
After her internship at MTV, Chelsea relocated to Los Angeles and began an unpaid internship at Hollywire. This September, Chelsea will celebrate her fifth year working for Hollywire and she is still in awe at how far she has come. She marveled: I got some great advice from a friend, who told me “go find a company that you can see your self working our way up and work for free”.
Chelsea revealed that at the time it had felt like a step back on her career path. She had already had a long-term internship and was used to being paid, so it was a shock to the system when she accepted an unpaid placement. The gamble definitely paid off, less than a year after interning at Hollywire, Chelsea was offered a paid position and began rebranding Hollywire.
Chelsea re-launched Hollywire twice and the last launch was a phenomenal success. At the beginning of 2013, Hollywire celebrated achieving 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, barely one year later and they now have over 600,000 subscribers and over 200m views on YouTube. It is an incredible achievement yet Chelsea has remained adorably modest. Her face lit up with that beaming smile once more, her voice laced in awe: “We now get up to 17m views per month, that is pretty crazy! It has been so overwhelming to see how much Hollywire has grown in such a short space of time.”
The stratospheric success of Hollywire is undoubtedly down to Chelsea’s undeniable dedication and inspirational work ethic, however it is also down to the unique connection Chelsea has with her audience. Chelsea engages with her audience at every opportunity, including shout outs at the end of her videos and responding to their tweets and comments as often as possible.
As she spoke about her audience, she smiled affectionately, her voice laced with warmth. She added: “I like to open up conversations with them, I like to ask questions at the end of my videos and ask them to respond in the comment section. I want them to feel like they have a place to go.”
Chelsea’s dedication to her audience has not gone unnoticed, a peek at the comment section of any of Chelsea’s videos will reveal hundreds of comments declaring love for Chelsea and referring to her as a ‘hero’ or ‘role model’.
For the first time during the interview, Chelsea was quiet. She thought for a moment, her voice lowered considerably. She ran her fingers through her hair, lost in thought she said: “It is very humbling to feel that you have a voice and that these kids look up to you. It has opened my eyes to the importance of being a good role model, it’s scary but very cool.”
She added softly: “Honestly, sometimes I feel like there is pressure to be a good role model and I find myself stressing about it because I don’t want to let anyone down.”
Not everyone can put themselves out there the way that Chelsea does and she makes it look effortless. Where there is positive, unfortunately there is also negative. I was keen to discover how Chelsea coped with negativity online. She looked serious for the first time and said thoughtfully: “Obviously you get mean or negative comments but I’ve learnt to have a thick skin. Saying that, there’s definitely bad days but I think that can be good for you sometimes. At the end of the day, I’ve always been myself so if someone criticizes that, what can I do about it?”
As someone who has interviewed many well-known faces over the years, we bonded over the best and worst experiences we have had. It was hilarious and a real eye-opener as I told her raucous tales from London and she divulged the darker often unseen side of Hollywood.
As the food arrived, we discussed our favourite interviewees. Chelsea struggled to commit to one as she assured me that she had many. Eventually she settled on actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and producer extraordinaire Will.i.am. Chelsea laughed and added excitedly: “Oh Will.i.am is so awesome! He is such a genuine and hilarious guy, I feel so lucky to have been able to spend a lot of time with him.”
Among her endless hilarious anecdotes, she revealed that she had a lovely exchange with Will.i.am a few weeks after she initially interviewed him. She recalled: “I was at this Hollywood party and I spotted Will through the crowd. A big crowd of people, who were hanging onto his every word, surrounded him. Suddenly, he saw me and called out “Chelsea!” from across the room. He made his way through the sea of people and gave me a huge hug. It was a really cool moment because he has been interviewed by thousands of people but he still made an effort with me and I appreciated it.”
Chelsea nudged me with her elbow and gestured to her steak. She smiled kindly and said: “You have got to have some of this, it is amazing!” Before I had the chance to politely decline, she had placed a chunk of petit filet on to my plate. It was delicious and another example of how perfectly sweet Chelsea is.
As our plates were cleared away, Chelsea revealed that her most awkward interview was with none other than One Direction. She covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes shining like marbles. She revealed: “I was backstage and everything was chaotic! The guys were split up into two groups and I was in the middle of them, it was totally surreal.”
She suddenly burst into peals of laughter as she recalled the event. She clasped her hands to her chest and added: “So, the interview was going well and suddenly I noticed all the press people were laughing at me. I ignored them and was high-fiving Louis, Liam, Niall and Zayn when Niall said “Harry is behind you”. I realised that Harry had been making hilarious faces behind my back the whole time!”
She covered her eyes, the embarrassment making her blush ever so slightly. She added: “I love Harry, so I was so caught off guard, it was really awkward. I turned into a complete fan girl, it was hilarious but definitely not my coolest moment.”
Chelsea has made a name for herself in Hollywood as one of the best interviewers around and I was keen to find out whether Los Angeles has changed her at all. She sat thoughtfully for a moment and smiled softly, she said: “LA makes you kind of jaded. You get used to being around celebrities, attending big parties and red carpet events. However, it has made me more of a fighter but never in an aggressive way.”
She clarified: “I have met a lot of tough people over the years. When I first came here, I was very naïve and didn’t fight for stuff. Los Angeles has taught me to fight for what I believe in and what I think is right.”
I asked Chelsea what advice she would offer young girls who were anxious to follow in her glittering footsteps. Before I had the chance to finish the sentence, I could see her eyes light up with passion. This was when Chelsea was in her element, when she was helping others. She placed her hands on her chest and said honestly: “You need to get a good internship, some hands on experience with being in high-pressure environments. Make as many contacts as you can and never ever stop networking, it is amazing the opportunities that can come from friends in the industry.”
She took on a more serious tone and it was clear that she was speaking from the heart. She said: “Most importantly, if you are a genuine person with good intentions, you will get far. If you have a good work ethic and a good heart, good things will always come to you.”
Thoughtfully, she added: “Accepting who you are is so important and not letting other people make you feel insecure. Don’t be a mannequin, find your voice and put it out there. Remember, always be yourself and embrace your weirdness!”
As the four-hour long dinner drew to a close, I was reluctant to say goodbye to Chelsea. It had felt more like dinner with a friend rather than any interview I had ever done. Chelsea’s work ethic was so inspiring, it stayed with me long after we said goodbye.
Ten Questions We Ask Everyone
1. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. When I was younger, I did plays as I always wanted to have a voice of some sort. I considered being an actress which is funny because I’m the worst actress ever! I also always loved children, so I always wanted to do something with babies or children, I feel like I’ve always bonded with younger people.
2. If you could offer advice to your twelve-year-old self, what would it be?
Don’t be intimidated by others! Be confident and comfortable with who you are. Be genuine and be a better friend, friendship is really important. Oh and of course, embrace your weirdness!
3. You have 24 hours with no travel restrictions, how would you spend it?
I would take a best friend and travel through Europe. It would be amazing to just have fun, without a worry in the world. I have never been Paris or Barcelona, so I would definitely visit there. I would also love to visit the UK! In the 24 hours, I would visit as many places as I could, take as many Instagram photos as possible and have a lot of laughs!
4. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you this year?
Being in the One Direction: This is Us movie was a big deal and MTV asked me to host a live shoot for the VMA’s which was huge because MTV is my dream.
5. The film you can watch over and over yet never tire of?
6. The song that always makes you emotional?
James Taylor – Fire and Rain or Tom Petty – Free Fallin’, if I hear either of those songs in the morning, I know it is going to be a good day.
7. If you could spend an entire day with anyone uninterrupted, who would it be?
Oprah is my role model, she has achieved so much. She is such a great human being who comes from a crazy background yet she’s created an empire and always gives back. Oh, or Harry Styles, I would love to make out with him.
8. It is Friday night at midnight, where are you most likely to be?
This is going to sound totally boring but to be honest, probably on my couch watching tv with my room mate! It is weird because I’m always out interviewing so on Friday nights I like to just switch off and watch Netflix.
9. What is your biggest vice?
I drink way too much coffee, it is scary!
10. How would you like to be remembered?
I would just like to be remembered as a really positive person. Someone that inspires people to go after what they believe in and go after their dreams.
Follow Chelsea on Twitter: @Chelsea_Briggs
Follow Chelsea on Instagram: @Chelsea_Briggs
Follow Hollywire on Twitter: @Hollywire
Like Hollywire on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HOLLYWIRE
Visit Hollywire’s website: www.hollywire.com
Subscribe to Hollywire’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/HollywireTV
With special thanks to Suzan Masters.