TV and presenter Liana Wall sat down with our showbiz reporter Sophie Prescott for an Excusive Interview with Mark Meets Entertainment.
Having set up her own Dance and Perfroming Arts School at just 16years, 5’3 beauty Liana has the hard work, charisma and passion needed in the entertainment world to make it (Plus she’s lovely).
Coming from a strong performance background, Liana began presenting when she was asked to produce regular video diaries of herself to promote her music career in the USA.
From singing, presenting, hosting to modelling, Liana has done it all. As an actress she has appeared in many tv shows for BBC lee Nelson show, ITV and MTV.
So Liana, let’s start at the beginning! When did your love of performing start?
Well I have been dancing since I was two when my mum put me into Ballet, Tap and modern, plus all the weekly activities that you can do as a child and I just loved it. I suppose the actual route to where the career started was when I was 16 and I enrolled on a performing arts course, where I auditioned for a range of London Theatre Colleges and was accepted at Stella Mann. I was over the moon to be accepted at Stella Mann, as it is so difficult nowadays to get into a theatre college. Whilst there I trained extra hard and wanted give something back through my performing so decided to train as a dance teacher as well which has been amazing to do also.
You have made a successful career as a presenter for various channels, what led you to go into presenting, is this something that you have always wanted to do?
I started presenting when I was asked to do regular video blogs as part of my music career that I had in America for my fans. I literally hired one of my friend’s cameras and thought let’s just do some video blogs, pop them on YouTube and send them over to the States. When I was in front of the camera I thought to myself, actually I am really enjoying doing this presenting and going back to that idea of giving back, this the perfect way to do this. It was great because I could reach people on a personal level with informative information and when I realized how popular the videos had become, I thought; you know I could actually be a presenter. I was surprised how comfortable I felt in front of the camera, as usually it can be a daunting thing. I also wanted to take my performing to the next step and presenting was the perfect challenge to achieve this.
You are a regular presenter for TV shopping channels such as Bid and Price Drop TV – Can you tell us what it is like to be a TV shopping presenter, what would be your usual routine on a shift?
Well believe it or not every presenter arrives in tracksuit bottoms, no make-up, hair not even done! You arrive comfy, because when you get into the make-up room, which is behind the studio set, it’s all there for you to get ready, mirrors and plug sockets etc. You want to be able to arrive comfy and leave comfy, because the first thing presenters do when they come off set is take all that make up off! I suppose for an average shift day or evening, you arrive in comfy clothes, you then have to do your make up and hair which transforms you into the ‘presenter’ meaning you are then ready to walk out onto a live set.
What is it like to present live on TV – is it a skill that you have always been a natural at?
Well I try and stay as natural as I can and feel really comfortable to ad-lib. I never use an autocue and never present from a script, because I feel really restricted. An autocue and script can be brilliant at the right times, but with live TV I thinks it’s great when someone can just be on camera, say ‘here I am’ and just to be completely real. Also you have the added pressure of talk back, which is brilliant but needs full concentration.
You see when you are new to the industry; you put your talk back monitor on and your earpiece in and then you realize it’s a whole other world. You have got the director, the producer and everyone in the gallery of the studio centre just talking about their ordinary day or what they had for lunch! It is really distracting and you are thinking, hang on I’m trying to present, but then to top it off you are trying to listen out for your cues. When you first start you do have to learn quickly to get used to it, but you soon learn to go into focus mode and you then manage to drown everyone out. I believe when a presenter has mastered live TV, you are then on the right track!
Have there been any particular funny moments that have happened to you live on air that you will always remember?
I would have to say mostly with shopping TV! You are usually wearing very high heels and you can be called over at any moment to cover a presenter live on air, say if they need to come off set for some reason or another. Before I’ve had to whizz across the studio on several occasions in heels and as you can imagine, I’ve tripped, I’ve stumbled and I’ve been completely out of breath.
There was one particular time that I was out of vision of the camera and I was helping boost my co-host with a few silly comments, as it was really late in the evening and energy levels were low. So there I was trying to make my co-host laugh and for what ever reason the director didn’t tell me, but the camera had been on me for the whole time! Everyone would have seen me doing funny some-what out of character things, which was very embarrassing!! If I am honest though, I think people tune into live TV for the mess-ups.
People can see the real side of a presenter when they mess-up which makes them connect more with the viewers – so it isn’t all bad.
If you could pick one TV presenter to co-present with, whom would it be and why?
Philip Schofield absolutely, because when I was younger I watched him on all the CBBC channels and I think he is just brilliant. I also really like Graham Norton, because he reminds me of my brother who is the spiting image of Graham. He’s funny, got good banter and he is real, if he doesn’t like someone he will tell them, which I like. Definitely a male co-host to bounce off, which I think is where I have grown up with two older brothers. Another one of my favorites’ is Peter Simon, but I was lucky enough to go co-present with him for two and half years, so a little dream has come true there!
Not only are you a fantastic presenter, you are also a great singer! Can you tell us more about your music career…..
Well it started when I was 16 and I saw in the newspaper they were looking for singers for a girl band. I went along to the audition for Sony records and there were over ten thousand applicants and I thought, do I really have a shot? But I went anyway and I got down to the final six, but I didn’t make the band. Just before we left the producer pulled me to one side and asked me if I wrote music, which I did, and he said he thought I should give it ago solo and offered to help me record a few tracks.
I recorded the best songs I had written and then put my music up on Myspace, which was really popular. Luckily, I was then scouted by a New York based company called ACM Records who were keen to meet with me. I was flown to America for the meeting and next thing I know I am headlining at festivals across the States, all at 17 years old! It was a fantastic experience, but was a lot to take on, as I was very young at the time.
ACM were then very keen for me to stay out in America, but I felt at the time it was too much to keep flying back and forth from the UK and I needed to be at home. My parents were incredibly supportive and my dad toured with me throughout America, but I am a home girl at heart and knew that was where I was meant to be.
We know that your club single “Get a Little Closer” reached No.5 in the United States dance charts – how did that come about and did you have to promote this song a lot?
One of the songs that ACM Records were keen to develop was “Get a Little Closer”. During the tour I was promoting this song throughout America and Canada. The promotion for the song was pretty heavy going, especially again for a 17 year old. I attended single signing sessions, radio interviews, gigs, meet and greets, which were full-on when most of the time you have just got off a long-haul flight. As much as I loved doing my music, I think I was just too young, it was 12 years ago and I was still a baby back then. If I knew then what I know now, I would jump at the chance to do it. I had just come out of dance college and wanted to pursue other things like my presenting and if I am honest I was just scared to be in another country.
Do you plan to release any more music anytime soon?
I am always song writing and whenever I am by myself I will be writing something. I have a whole other albums worth of new material, it is just finding the time as most of my time is dedicated to my presenting and other commitments. But the answer to this question is absolutely, so watch this space!
Where do you see yourself and your career in five years?
Presenting with Mr Schofield! Ha joking! When I was asked this question a while ago, it really got me thinking. I have owned my own dance school, produced music and been a presenter and now I want to use my art to really give back. Sadly I have been faced with a family illness recently and my mother was diagnosed with Cancer. She is doing really well and things are looking up, but I feel like I would now like to present a documentary on healthy living, well being and positive thinking. I feel so many people fall into the trap of negative thoughts, which can be enough to make you ill.
On television people love to watch drama and often negative things, because let’s face it, it’s entertaining. But if you are having a down day and need a pick me up, I would love to see a channel that is completely dedicated to promoting positivity and keeping fit and healthy without any agendas. We need an uplifting channel which can bring you happiness and I would like to help contribute to that.
Have you got anything exciting lined up for the rest of 2014?
Well I am presenting lots of motor sport at the moment and trying to focus on my modeling and acting too. I was recently on Eastenders as a featured artist, which was pretty cool. I am open to developing my music more as well.
I am very keen though to not limit myself with where my career can go next. I find where I was trained in so many disciplines; I can’t just say I’m just an actor or just a presenter; I like to be able to work across all areas. I think it is really hard for people who train in performing arts, because you cover so many different skills and people are so quick to pigeon hole you.
But that aside performing is all that I know, it’s hard but standing up in front of people performing has always been part of my life. Sometimes I do wonder whether I should have a more regular job, as I have bills and a mortgage to pay like everyone else, but I cannot imagine not being in front of a camera or performing to people. To be honest, without performing I would become really negative and I really don’t want that in my life. So I continue to keep going and who knows where it will take me….