Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Q&A With TCM's Tiffany Vazquez

Tomorrow it will have been one year since Tiffany Vazquez started as Turner Classic Movies' Saturday afternoon host. In many ways it would be a historic moment for TCM. Miss Vazquez is only the third permanent on-air host hired by Turner Classic Movies (after Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz). At 29 she is also the youngest on-air host ever hired by TCM (Robert Osborne was 61 when he started hosting Turner Classic Movies while Ben Mankiewicz was 36). She is also the first woman to serve as a permanent on-air host on TCM and the first Latina to do so as well. Below is a short Q&A with Miss Vazquez, in celebration of her first anniversary as a TCM host.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tiffany: I was born in the Bronx, and spent most of my life in the Bronx and Queens. Non-movie related hobbies include eating, nail art, and neo-soul/classic hip-hop music.

Every classic film buff has a story of how they discovered classic films. How did you become a classic movie fan?

Tiffany:  I was in a Visual Aesthetics class where we saw It Happened One Night. It blew me away. I felt like I was watching the blueprint Romantic Comedy. I went home and started watching TCM, and haven't stopped since.

How did you become a TCM host?

Tiffany: I won a contest in 2014 called the TCM Ultimate Fan Contest. The grand prize of that was being able to host a movie on air with Robert Osborne, and to introduce that same movie (The Naked City) at the TCM Classic Film Festival that year. After that, the TCM staff and I just established great rapport and eventually, they asked me if I wanted to do a screen test for them. I did, and was offered a Guest Host spot for December 2015, where I introed movies about Girlfriends. A few months after that, I was offered the Saturday Daytime hosting gig!

You are only the third permanent host hired by TCM (after Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz). You are also the first woman to be hired as a permanent TCM host, the first Latina to be hired as a permanent TCM host, and the youngest of the hosts hired by TCM.  Do you ever think of yourself as a pioneer?

Tiffany:  No, because I'm not pioneering hosting. Robert was the best host I've ever seen, and Ben is incredible. I surely hope my presence on TV encourages more diversity in general, and I am forever grateful to TCM for giving me this absolute dream job.

Could you explain what being a host at TCM entails? How are the intros shot? Do you get to choose any of the movies you introduce? Do you get to choose your own wardrobe?

Tiffany:  The process starts with the schedule. I don't normally choose the movies I introduce. I get a list of films I'll be introducing, and I send our script writers some thoughts on each movie. The scripts get sent to me, and I make tweaks from there. Then we shoot two months worth of intros in two days. Ben and I have the same person in charge of wardrobe, who is fantastic. Her name is Holly and she also did Robert's wardrobe.

Did you receive any advice from Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz on your hosting duties?

Tiffany: Robert just wished me all of the best, which means a lot to me. Ben has great advice on interviewing people, handling internet opinions, and more. But he's also very conscious about me navigating my own way, which I deeply appreciate.

Turner Classic Movies has a very large fan base of people under the age of 40. As a young person yourself, can you explain the appeal of classic movies for young people?

Tiffany:  Many people (myself included) just like good movies. If movies are your life, then how can you ignore the complete history of the art form? I'm always a bit disappointed when I talk to someone who says they love film, but don't watch films made earlier than the 70s or 80s. There's a whole foundation to be discovered, and you gain a better understanding/appreciation of contemporary film when you see the films that started it all. Another reason I love classic film - I am fascinated by how much I can still relate to movies made before I was born, before my parents were born, even before my grandparents were born. When Barbara Stanwyck or Cary Grant make me fall over in laughter, it's one of the best feelings in the world to me, because it reassures me that the human condition has not changed that much. We still need to laugh, cry, love, and feel other emotions. We still need human connections, and classic movies tend to provide that more than any other medium I know.

What are some of your all time favourite films? 

Tiffany: Sunset Blvd, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Cabin in the Sky, West Side Story, The Night of the Hunter, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Coming to America, Daughters of the Dust, In the Mood for Love, Killer of Sheep

(I want to thank Miss Vazquez so much for agreeing to this Q&A!)


KC said...

Nice interview Terry. I can't believe it's been a year!

channahsorah said...

Hello. Where is Tiffany *Now* ? ...

Terence Towles Canote said...

Tiffany's contract with TCM as the Saturday afternoon host was not renewed. I am not sure who will take her place or if Ben will simply return as Saturday afternoon host.

channahsorah said...

Right-O; learned that few days ago or so....
What am not tracking with or understanding is what happened or unfolded....

channahsorah said...

p.s. - and wondered if anyone knows where she went to -now- i.e., post-TCM...
thanks again.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I have not heard why TCM did not renew Tiffany's contract as the Saturday afternoon host. She said in a tweet that there are still opportunities with TCM, so I am assuming she still has an association with them (that is, she'll be at the TCM Classic Film Festival and so on). As to where she went, I am assuming she is still with Giphy, the web site devoted to gifs.