Tyra Banks, Julie Chen and More Reality Hosts Reveal Most Awkward Moments

6:30 AM 6/7/2018

by Rebecca Ford

Unscripted television's top emcees — including Carson Daly, Phil Keoghan and Jenna Dewan — also share the lessons they've learned and the one other show they'd love to work on.

Tyra Banks, Julie Chen
Tyra Banks, Julie Chen
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images; David Livingston/Getty Images

  • Tyra Banks

    'America's Got Talent' (NBC)

    Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

    Banks, who hosted America's Next Top Model for 24 seasons, joined America's Got Talent in 2017 for its 12th season and continued her hosting duties into its 13th.

    Favorite unexpected moment: 

    While I was interviewing comedian Preacher Lawson for the very first time, he licked me! He licked my hand! It freaked me out for a moment, but I'm not one to be shaken publicly, and of course I had to one-up him. So, you better believe I licked him right back! He pretty much fainted right then and there in his comedic, crazy way. It was a hoot and a holler and a huge, big belly laugh!

    Most awkward moment: 

    For 24 cycles I have been saying, "America's Next Top Model … America's Next Top Model …" so, on America's Got Talent, I at times would jumble my words and mistakenly announce the show as "America's Next Got Talent!"

    Lesson learned: 

    I learned just how much I love people. Yes, I've hosted my own talk show and have enjoyed being very up close and personal with people. Same goes for America's Next Top Model, connecting with the aspiring models and my judges. With America's Got Talent, it takes that a step further. The contestants cry in my arms; they celebrate in my arms; I really feel like I'm in this with them. In fact, every season of America's Got Talent, I get a cold! And I'm one of those people that never gets a cold. But someone told me the reason I'm getting sick is due to contestants crying on me, sniffling on me, snot, all kinds of stuff … and I don't care! I totally embrace them and I envelop them in my arms — but in the process sometimes pick up a cold.

    The contestant I'd hang out with in real life: 

    It would have to be [ventriloquist] Darci Lynne, the winner of season 12. Contrary to my public persona on America's Next Top Model, where I'm very vocal and always speaking my mind, in real life I tend to be very conflict-averse. I am the person that will smile things away and actually shy away from speaking my mind, and people can take advantage of that. It would be fun to hang out with her for a year and have those puppets be able to tell people what I'm really thinking, how I'm really feeling. The puppets could speak for me — I just have to learn not to move my lips.

  • Julie Chen

    'Celebrity Big Brother' (CBS)

    Johnny Vy/CBS

    Chen has hosted CBS’ roommate competition since the show’s inception in July 2000.

    Favorite unexpected moment:

    When Marissa [Winokur] won despite me thinking she made a mistake by choosing to take Ross [Mathews] to the finals. Her face was genuine shock and exhilaration!

    Most awkward moment:

    I felt awkward when I knew I had to let Brandi [Glanville] know she tried to get the other houseguests to badmouth me. I don’t like drama or confrontation (so count me out for ever being a Real Housewife), but I knew I had to do it. I don’t like drama, but I also don’t let people get away with shit.

    Lesson learned:

    I have learned to expect the unexpected. Even with celebrities.

    The contestant I’d hang out with in real life:

    My pick is [Celebrity Big Brother season one runner-up] Ross Mathews. Funny, smart and engaging. And very much a curious journalist. I respect him.

    The show I’d love to host or compete on:

    I'd be a contestant on Amazing Race with my sister Vicky! We would kill it and clean up! Probably host it, too. Who wouldn’t want to travel the world in two months?

  • Carson Daly

    'The Voice' (NBC)

    Courtesy of NBC

    Since 2011, Daly has been the host and an executive producer (he’s won four Emmys for outstanding reality competition program) on the singing competition.

    Favorite unexpected moment:

    The whole first day of the Blind Auditions with Kelly Clarkson. I knew she’d be a good coach, but wow! She was hilarious, smart and surprisingly competitive. She’s been a refreshing addition and has breathed a lot of life into the show. She’s giving the veteran coaches a run for their money, which I love watching.

    Most awkward moment:

    Sending artists home is never not awkward. You know they’re disappointed, and at the same time, it’s a happy occasion because others are advancing. I wish they could all win.

    Lesson learned:

    That our crew is the best in the business. Those people are the real stars of The Voice. We basically do a mini-Grammys every Monday night live and make it look easy.

    The contestant I’d hang out with in real life:

    We’ve had so many artists who have had incredible stories and histories. Biff Gore from season six served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and almost died in the Gulf War. This season’s singer Rayshun recovered from cancer and is probably going to go on to be hugely successful. If I could, I’d sit down with all of them because all of their stories are fascinating and inspiring.

    The show I’d love to host or compete on:

    I would like to host Naked and Afraid — clothed, of course. As a contestant, I’d love to be on Storage Wars, just so I could go around and yell, “Yuuuuuup!”

  • Jenna Dewan

    'World of Dance' (NBC)

    Desiree Navarro/WireImage

    The star of the original Step Up is the category’s newest host, taking on emcee duties for Jennifer Lopez’s dance competition.

    Favorite unexpected moment:

    There is a moment where an act received a perfect score for the first time on the show and we all lost our minds. They electrified the stage and raised the bar for the entire competition.

    Most awkward moment:

    Coming from acting, it really was a new muscle to work for me. But once I became comfortable with the role, I learned to be myself, have fun with it and be present. In the first season, the time where The Jabbawockeez were sent home was an especially shocking hosting moment for me because no one — and I mean no one — expected that to happen. I remember second-guessing what I was seeing and hearing in my ear for a second or two too long before I spoke. It was a great learning lesson.

    Lesson learned:

    That you are in control of the show but also you are creating real connections with the dancers and the audience at home at the same time. To be as human and empathetic as possible whether you are front of the stage or backstage.

    The contestant I’d hang out with in real life: 

    Keone & Mari. They are so unbelievably talented, and I’d love to pick their brains on a creative level. But they also are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

    The show I’d love to host or compete on:

    I’d really be down to host the Puppy Bowl because, really, what could be better than that? Puppies and games. Sign me up.

  • Phil Keoghan

    'The Amazing Race' (CBS)

    Timothy Kuratek/CBS

    Keoghan has hosted his show since its debut in 2001, traveling the world with contestants vying for the $1 million prize.

    Favorite unexpected moment:

    Our recent mat proposal between Lucas and Brittany in the South of France. Not only did they win the leg, but they decided to spend the rest of their lives together and share their proposal with the other racers and Amazing Race fans.

    Most awkward moment:

    I once hosted an entire episode in the nude at a nudist resort. The crew took off their clothes, too. And I once was stuck in a holding room at the Ukrainian border and had to sleep on a plastic chair overnight.

    Lesson learned:

    What I have learned is that I love being around interesting people, and the more I meet really cool people, the more I want to travel to meet even more. And while the news tends to accentuate the differences in all of us, inherently we all want the same things out of life no matter what race, religion or culture we come from. I do believe that ultimately we are all capable of good when we exercise respect for one another.

    The contestant I’d hang out with in real life:

    I have hung out with many contestants over a glass of wine over the years and value the friendships that I have made. I’m open to popping the cork with anyone.

    The show I’d love to host or compete on:

    I will spare the audience from seeing me dance, but I do think it would be really cool to compete on Amazing Race with my dad.

    This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.