Television host and producer, Stacey Gualandi, originally hails from Southfield. Her family moved to Brighton in her teens, where she attended Brighton High School. Stacey now resides in Los Angeles, but still has plenty of family in Michigan. Armed with a degree in journalism, she first honed her producer skills working for Financial News Network (now known as CNBC), and on the television series, Extra. She built on those skills while serving as a reporter for American Journal and Inside Edition, and eventually as a correspondent for the TV Guide Network.
Now she is putting it all together as host and producer of Hallmark Channel's first online TV series, Hallmark Channel On Location, a series of half-hour shows that presents behind-the-scenes footage of the network's original programming, red carpet premieres, and interviews with stars and creative figures. BMN recently asked Stacey about the developmental years she spent in Michigan and their impact on her life and career.
BMN: Did you ever think you would be interviewing the stars you grew up watching?
STACEY: I don't think I ever thought it possible to someday interview the TV stars that I admired while growing up in Michigan. That dream came during college, but I certainly spent A LOT of time watching TV during those days and all that "homework" certainly paid off! My first crush was Bob Denver--yes Gilligan. I used to spend hours drawing I Dream of Jeannie, and I had a scrapbook of my idols--Starsky & Hutch, Charlie's Angels, The $6 Million Man, to name just a few. As an entertainment reporter, every time I got to meet and interview my childhood idols, it was surreal. I guess it was inevitable that I would someday work in television because I never stopped watching TV as a kid. Just recently, I interviewed Barbara Eden and was probably more starstruck than when I interviewed Tom Cruise! I know that when I get to interview those stars I watched so many years ago in my Southfield family room, it always brings back happy childhood memories and that maybe I did put it out in the universe that I would get to meet them all someday.
BMN: What advice do you have for Michigan kids who want a career in journalism?
STACEY: My advice to those seeking to be a journalist is to become an expert on a specific subject. When I worked at FNN (before it became CNBC) I was not very comfortable with financial news, but when it came to entertainment news, I had such a wealth of knowledge, I think it helped me to reach my goals faster. Also, I think the key to being an effective journalist is to really be a strong writer--write, write, write! Also important is to get internships, that way you can learn what type of jobs you don't want. Whatever path you choose to take to get to your personal goal, just take it. If I had listened to people who said there is no way I could become a reporter...
BMN: Michigan is rapidly becoming a new Hollywood with our fantastic tax incentives for producers, how do you think that will impact the next generation?
STACEY: Turning Michigan into a Hollywood-Midwest is a fantastic way to expose residents to careers in the entertainment industry who might not have had the opportunity otherwise. It also helps to discover untapped talent outside of the typical pool of Hollywood-types--people with different ideas and different perspectives. A lot of people might not have the means to leave their home state to get into show business. Bringing Hollywood to Michigan is an effective way for many to realize their dreams in their own backyards.
BMN: What are some of your favorite memories of your time spent in Michigan?
STACEY: My favorite memories include my dad pulling my sister and I on a sled in several feet of snow on Evergreen; the parties at Cranbrook Swim Club; tap class at Carol Kimmel Dance Studio; skateboarding in my neighborhood in Brighton; learning how to ski on the bunny hill at Mt. Brighton; catching and frying bluegills at Houghton Lake with my grandparents; BBQ's at my other grandparents in Royal Oak; watching my family lay sod on our new front yard; my pets: Misty, Starsky, and Hutch; listening to the horses thru the hotel window in Mackinac; and Detroit Lions games at the Silverdome with my folks.
BMN: What do you miss most now that your career has taken you elsewhere to live?
STACEY: I really miss not being able to visit more - my relatives still live in Benton Harbor, Plymouth, and Birmingham - but to be quite honest, I miss the snow! How crazy is that? Living in LA, you don't get much snow.
BMN: How do you think growing up in has Michigan impacted who you are today?
STACEY: Growing up in Michigan gave me the chance to have a NORMAL upbringing. They say if you remember many aspects of growing up, then you had a great childhood. Moving from Southfield to Brighton helped me to learn to adapt to change and make new friends; living in neighborhoods filled with kids provided HOURS AND HOURS of fun playing outside; and I was able to get a great education (through Evergreen Elementary, Maltby Middle and Brighton High schools). The funny thing is I'm now hearing from people on Facebook who I haven't seen in 30 years!
BMN: You mentioned how tough it can be to make it back to Michigan these days. If you were planning a trip back to visit relatives, what else would you want to be sure to see or do?
STACEY: I would like to go to Mackinac Island and go back to see the homes I grew up in. And I would like to see some of my friends whom I've reconnected with recently through Facebook.
BMN: What are your thoughts on the Buy Michigan Now concept?
STACEY: I think it’s a fantastic way to show how no-nonsense, hard-working, and well-grounded the people of Michigan are. There's nothing better than a native Michigander! Any opportunity to bring attention to the people & businesses in your community is time well spent. Look at what community activism did for a man named Barack!
BMN: Tell us about Hallmark Channel On Location. Where can we find it and what can we expect?
STACEY: Hallmark Channel On Location
is an exclusive peek at the behind-the-scenes action on the set of each Hallmark Channel Original Movie
that appears on the network. It includes scenes and my interviews with the cast, including folks like Henry Winkler, Faith Ford, Catherine Bell, Genie Francis, Dean Cain, Ted McGinley, etc., and can be seen on the website www.hallmarkchannel.com
. The behind-the-scenes stories appear on each current movie's microsites. That’s where you'll find me hosting and introducing each movie. What you can expect is the low-down on each movie, and an entertaining look at what goes into the making of each movie--and you might even see a hunky actor or two!
BMN: What Shout Out do you have for your friends and fans in Michigan?
STACEY: Here's a Shout Out to all my babysitters, classmates, teachers, dance instructors, coaches, neighbors, crushes, and everyone else who helped me become the person I am today. Without you, I never would have been able to reach my full potential!