Ross Mathews, celebrated ULV alumnus and an E! Network gem, is bringing his infectious spirit, trademark high-pitched voice and his enthusiasm for pop culture in his new show, “Hello Ross,” which premiered Sept. 6 on E!
“Hello Ross” is an interactive talk show in which Mathews and other super fans come together to talk about the newest trends in pop culture and current celebrity news. Recent celebrity guests included Lance Bass and Joey Fatone from *NSYNC and Kathy Griffin.
Although Mathews now rubs elbows with Hollywood’s elite, he still keeps his ULV roots by having former Campus Times editor Ryan MacDonald as a producer for “Hello Ross” and staying in touch with the communications department while in search for interns.
First of all, we just wanted to say congratulations on the new show, really love it!
RM: That makes me so happy. I really wanted to make this show for super fans – people who love pop culture. I think people get it now that we’ve had two really solid episodes out of the gate. The ratings are huge, and I think people, you know, get the show now. They go, “Oh! That’s what this is,” and they’re really responding well. I’m so happy you loved it.
What was your first thought when you found out you were going to have your own show?
RM: Well you know, I wanted to have a talk show since I was eight years old, and I remember my first day of orientation at La Verne saying to Mike Laponis, “I’m going to be a talk show host,” and him kind of being like, “Okay,” and this has been a long time in the making.
The moment I found out, I was at this fancy place in Beverly Hills, sitting across from the head of the network and with Chelsea’s (Handler) production people, and they said, “Okay, we’re gonna do this, you’re gonna get a talk show,” and it was so emotional. It was like – I mean, I don’t know if I’ve been that emotional since the finale of “The Hills.”
So you’ve been known as “Ross the Intern” for so long. How does it feel to go from being an intern to hosting your own TV show now?
RM: I started as “Ross the Intern” almost 12 years ago, and about five years in, they finally gave me a last name because I went to them and went, “Hey you guys, if I’m 30 years old and called ‘The Intern,’ I’m like, the Biebs. I’m gonna be a broadcaster for a long time, you gotta give me a last name.”
So they did, and we’ve been really sort of branding that and getting people to know me as ‘Ross Mathews’ for the past six years, and Chelsea Lately’s show, which really helped solidify that, guest on her show, and now having my own show, it’s like, more people know me as Ross Mathews than “Ross the Intern” now. It’s a warm feeling, because this is not a gimmick, this is a career, you know?
Do you think you’ll be getting your own intern for “Hello Ross” anytime soon?
RM: Oh, girl, I just had a conversation yesterday. We are starting an internship program here at “Hello Ross.” I was actually gonna call Mike Laponis and say, can you hook us up, do you have any good, stellar students, work ethic, but one who’ll come and LOL with us all day.
Has Chelsea Handler or Jay Leno given you any advice on hosting?
RM: At the end of the day, hosting a show, it’s just about having a strong point of view and a strong perspective. Chelsea tells me, be you, 100 percent.
And then Jay Leno, he’s been so successful for so long, and part of what makes him so great is his advice to me has been to show up first, leave last and be nice to everybody. That’s in my nature anyway, but it is what I do and what I’ve learned from him, and it’s really important because what happens when you do that is your staff will do anything for you.
We’re only six, seven weeks into production here on “Hello Ross,” but I already feel these people have my back more than I ever dreamt.
Growing up, who did you look up to as a talk show host?
RM: Oh, Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah, Sally Jessy, Ricki Lake, Montel, Jenny Jones, Kathie Lee Gifford, Regis Philbin, Jay Leno…I mean, you name ‘em, I watched them.
So you’re a pop culture super fan, and that really comes across in the show. How is making this connection with other fans important to you?
RM: Well, I feel like as a lifelong super fan who actually gets to be in the middle of Hollywood, I feel like an elected delegate for all super fans. So I feel an obligation to bring them with me, and I hope you see that in the show.
Every spot that makes in on air on “Hello Ross” is run through the filter of, how can we bring pop culture and people together? And I think you see that in the topics and how we handle them, I think you’ll see that in the field pieces, and I know you’ll see that in the celebrity interviews, because I’m in the audience talking to the fans, they get to ask the celebs a question, we’re video chatting people from across the country to get their point of view.
You know, when I watch those talk shows back in the day with Rosie and Oprah, I used to talk at the screen. When I was growing up in Washington, or in the Oaks in La Verne, I used to talk at the screen, and say, “Why can’t they hear me?” And in 2013, there’s no reason we can’t.
Do you have any filter when it comes to discussing pop culture? Do you say what comes up on your mind when you’re filming?
RM: I always say what comes up in my mind. There is an innate filter within me that is like, it’s all about positivity. I don’t need to have a “gotcha” moment; I don’t want to insult anybody.
This is all about being a super fan, that’s just how I work. So that’s the only filter that I can think of. It’s just an organic filter within me, like how I approach the world. And so, when I have that, like as a no-brainer, that’s my baseline, I never think twice about what I say, it’s whatever my gut instinct is.
If you could have one celebrity on “Hello Ross,” who would it be?
RM: I think it’d be Lady Gaga. I think the fans would freak out if I got some access to her. Think about what a party that would be on the “Hello Ross” set. Also, I’d like to crack that nut a little bit. I don’t know who Lady Gaga really is. You know, what’s underneath that meat dress? I’d like to try to find out.
So now that your dream came true, what’s next for you?
RM: The dream came true; we got the show. Now it’s about making it a hit and a cornerstone of not only the E! Network, but a cornerstone on pop culture.
This show is unlike any other. I think, if we do it right, it becomes a destination for fans and a pit stop for celebrities to really connect with their fans. And it’s the only show out there that really is like a magic portal into pop culture.
And I think it could become not only a cornerstone on the E! Network, but a cornerstone of pop culture in general. So now that’s the next thing, making that happen.
Do you have any words of advice for La Verne communications students or La Verne students in general?
RM: I mean really, I think students everywhere, no matter what you want to go into, no matter how far away or worldly it seems, hard work is an incredible tool. Persistence is an incredible tool.
And not to make it about Oprah – but, girl, you know I have to quote her – Oprah said, there’s not such thing as luck. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
And if you’re prepared when an opportunity presents itself, that’s the biggest weapon you can have.
“Hello Ross” airs at 10 p.m. every Friday on E!
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