A Q&A with “Hollywood Insider” Tanisha LaVerne Grant

She’s an award winning journalist known as the “Hollywood Insider.”

Tanisha  LaVerne Grant participates in a questions and answers talking about her career after a busy weekend working the red carpet at the New York Emmy Awards last Saturday, May 6. Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, Patti LaBelle, Gabrielle Union, Kevin Hart and Sanaa Lathan are just a few A-listers Grant has chatted with in front of the camera. You can check out her reel here.

Gino Terrell: “You are known as the ‘Hollywood Insider,’ so tell me how does one from Chester, Pennsylvania reach this status?”

Tanisha LaVerne Grant: “Well first I’d like to say that being from Chester, Pa is not a sentence, judgement, or verdict on a whether or not a person gets to his or her desired dreams and goals. There are many places throughout the U.S and the world over that suffer the same if not even greater challenges than my hometown. I will say that hailing from Chester, Pa has fueled me with drive, ambition, imagination and execution and those are just some of the innate and learned qualities that have contributed to my being a journalist who is known as a ‘HOLLYWOOD INSIDER.'”

G.T.: “When did you know you wanted to become a journalist?”

T.L.G.: “I have always had a thirst for knowledge, information, storytelling and oratory. I knew around age 10 that I would have a career that involved the aforementioned. Growing up in Chester and attending the oldest HBCU Cheyney University of Pennsylvania put me in close proximity to Philadelphia which is the fourth largest market in the television news industry.”

G.T.: “Was there anyone in particular you looked up to or an event that motivated you to pursue this path?”

T.L.G.: “I had the opportunity to see African American on camera reporters and anchors like Lisa Thomas-Laury, Beverly Williams, Arthur Fennell, the late Sheela Allen Stephens, Ukee Washington, Ron Burke, Eleanor Jean Henley, Denise James, Vernon Odom and Renee Chenault Fattah who became a dear mentor to me when I came to WCAU NBC 10 as [an] intern turned assignment editor. These are the men and women who guided me through my early years in broadcast news. They pushed me, encouraged me and fought every day to keep African American stories in full view. I am grateful to every last one of them for the contributions they made to my overall growth and development as a journalist.”

G.T.: “You are a two-time pageant winner winning Miss Black Pennsylvania USA and Miss Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, can you reflect on what you learned from that experience and how it felt winning those titles?”

T.L.G.: “Winning those pageant titles as a young woman was very exciting. My dreams were validated. I had the opportunity to travel, serve as a spokesperson and goodwill ambassador for my University and the Miss Black Pennsylvania USA brand. I met some of the most amazing women, a few who I am still friends with today. But most importantly my pageant life really taught me time management and the importance of showing up prepared with all your essential tools in place.”

G.T.: “You were very active in college when it came to radio, television and film studies and eventually landed an internship with WCAU NBC 10 in Philly. How did this catapult your career and what did you take away from these experiences that have helped you get to where you are now?”

T.L.G.: “My internship at WCAU NBC 10 was definitely my entree into the television news and entertainment industry. It is the gift that keeps on giving! The greatest and most priceless take away is my becoming a self starter, a creative multi media story teller. I left channel 10 a solid journalist capable of curating content, separating and recognizing the difference between news, propaganda, slants and advertising. In the ever changing landscape of media be it in front of the camera or behind the camera I feel safe knowing I was taught such invaluable skills sets.”

G.T.: “What advice would you give to high school students who want to become a journalist like you? What career readiness path would you recommend?”

T.L.G.: “I tell all high school students and anyone who may be looking to enter the journalism field to study every aspect of this field from law and ethics to camera technique and video editing. We are in a time where owning your intellectual content is critical to making sure our stories are told and the only way we can continue to do this is to safeguard our brands with knowledge of how the media machine works.”

G.T.: “For you what does it mean to be a symbol as one of the most prolific journalist out there that the black community can relate to?”

T.L.G.: “I am prolific only if being prolific means taking an enormous amount of pride in my work and wanting to tell accurate stories of African American contributions and achievements in film, television, art, music, fashion and literature.”TANISHA GRANT

G.T.: “How did it feel when you received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by People Building People and the “Entertainment Correspondent of the Year” by Brown Woman media?”

T.L.G.: “Receiving awards by “PEOPLE BUILDING PEOPLE” and “BROWN WOMEN IN MEDIA” reminded me that my journey is about community. It is about collective work and responsibility! I was filled with joy because working as a freelance and independent entertainment correspondent is difficult terrain to navigate, so having my work and my efforts acknowledged was a wonderful gesture that continues to inspire to me to push my brand forward.”

G.T.: “Do you remember your first celebrity interview? If so, who was it with and how was the experience?”

T.L.G.: “One of my first celebrity interviews was with director Melvin Van Peebles. I was over the moon! Melvin Van Peebles blazed the trail for independent filmmakers with his 1971 controversial ” blaxsploitation” film “SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSS SONG” that was later redone by his son Mario Van Peebles. Mr. Van Peebles is an icon. He was giving in his interview with me and I was thrilled that he trusted me enough to engage in dialogue. My interview with him will out live us both and that is what this work is about. It is about leaving a blue print and legacy that can be passed down from generation to generation.”

G.T.: “You’ve taken people through red carpet shows, premieres and award shows interviewing some of the most prominent figures in the industry. After all the hard work you put in throughout your career what’s the most rewarding part of your journey now?”

T.L.G.: “The most rewarding part of my journey now is understanding there is always room for me to be made better as a journalist and to maintain an old newsroom standard of fact checking! Journalism has changed. It is faster and not as cohesive as it should be. The world overall moves so much faster. However, I still remain dedicated to carefully creating and distributing my content. I believe in substance and knowing my audience can count on me to deliver entertainment news that is a fully developed story is also very rewarding.”TANISHA Grant

G.T.: “You’ve gotten to do some acting in your career in various roles on projects with ensemble cast with the likes of Al Pacino, Robert  De Niro, 50 Cent, Mo’Nique, Bruce Willis and Duane Martin. For you, what is it like having the opportunity to work with some of these figures doing what they do? And is there a memorable set story you’d like to share?”

T.L.G.: “It is always great to work with people who are giants in their craft. Robert De Niro  and Al Pacino were wonderful to observe when I worked with them on ‘Righteous Kill’ both were kind and open to teaching and sharing. Robert De Niro actually took me by the hand and helped me to my mark which was a narrow beam that served as bar counter that had to walk across in stilettos when I portrayed a cocktail waitress in ‘Righteous Killl.’ Great memories there for sure.”

G.T.: “You’ve got a great deal now doing all you do but is there something new you are looking to try next in your career or do more of?”

T.L.G.: “I just want to continue evolving my brand as entertainment journalist. While I don’t know what the future holds I am doing my absolute best to stay on message as culture keeper and story teller. I know there is something truly remarkable coming down God’s pipeline for me and I am determined to be in position when it comes.”

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV.


Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026

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