What's It Like to Be a Guest on a Daytime Talk Show?

The best answer to any question.
Dec. 26 2013 10:04 AM

What's It Like to Be a Guest on the Queen Latifah Show?

Karen X. Cheng backstage at The Queen Latifah Show

Courtesy of Karen X. Cheng

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Karen X. Cheng, was on The Queen Latifah Show:


I never thought I’d be on TV.

I’d always wondered — how do they pick guests? Is it scripted? How is taping different than what you see on TV?

Recently I got to be a guest on The Queen Latifah Show. A couple things surprised me — here's what I learned.

How they pick guests

A few months ago, I made a dance video that went viral (3 million views). Several national TV shows contacted me within a few days —it was a pretty whirlwind, exciting time.

The best I understand it, these shows have assistant producers who scout the Internet for interesting stories and viral videos. When they find it, they’ll reach out to you and talk to you on the phone.

If you agree to do it, the assistant producer will then pitch the idea to the executive producer. If you get the go-ahead, they’ll slot you in for a time. There’s a lot of back and forth, though. I talked to several shows, and sometimes they’d be totally interested in you one day and then drop you the next.

All daytime shows want what they call an exclusive. This doesn’t mean you agree to do only their show—it just means you agree to appear on their show first. But since everyone wants an exclusive, once you appear on one show, you can’t go on others.

How they do hair and makeup

They asked me to come fully dressed, made up, and ready to go. They’d do the finishing touches. They asked me to bring a couple different options to wear. Nothing all black or all white (I’ve heard it’s hard to light for), and no text or logos (darn, I was hoping to promote my startup!).

They had a hair stylist and makeup artist do their magic on me. In person, I didn’t think it looked that great, but when I watched it back on TV, I was surprised. I don’t know what lighting voodoo they did, but I definitely looked better on TV than I did in person!

How they write the script

When she’s hosting the show, Queen Latifah reads off a teleprompter. It makes sense —it’s way too much to memorize every day. Still, this surprised me because of how naturally she did it. I could never tell from just watching.

They prepared all the questions for me in advance, and the producer practiced with me backstage before I went on. They didn’t ask me to read off of cue cards, though— they let me answer the questions naturally.

How taping works

They tape a few days before they air, so it’s like they’re always living in the future—“Happy Friday!”    when it’s actually Tuesday.

Something interesting I didn’t expect was that they don’t tape in the same order they air. So when I was waiting backstage to go on, Queen Latifah was wrapping up the show: “And that’s our show. Happy Thanksgiving!”

And after that they taped my segment,  which was the first segment to air. It seems like a lot to keep track of. I guess actors have to do this, too. Mad respect to them.

The whole experience was a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought. I think because it wasn’t live, that took the pressure off. I knew if something went wrong they could always re-record. And that they did— they re-recorded part of the segment at the end when the camera couldn’t get a clear shot of Queen Latifah because of where I was standing.

Overall, I was just really impressed by how they ran everything. They were extremely organized and treated me well. So many things could go wrong— a guest could get sick or miss her flight. They have to fill each day, every day, with interesting content. They work around the clock—I got texts from the assistant producer from early in the morning until late at night.

Sometimes, we founders like to think we work the hardest. And it’s true that building a company is a lot of hard work. But every time I’m exposed to a new world, I see that they work just as hard , maybe harder. Dancers, lawyers, musicians, bankers, maids, makeup artists, writers, producers, TV hosts. It doesn’t matter the profession, the top of every field works their butts off.

I love seeing how things work behind the scenes, and that’s why we’re making 100.

Questions? Ask Karen on Twitter: @karenxcheng.

More questions on Television:


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.