From waiting tables to living in a basement apartment, three traveling hosts tell CNBC how they got there.
Here are their stories.
Job: Emmy-Award Winning TV Host”Samantha Brown’s Place of Love“
“I went to Syracuse University for musical theater because I wanted so desperately to move to New York City and be a thespian. I wanted to do Shakespeare and be on Broadway.
That didn’t pan out. I waited tables for a good eight years. But I loved improv, and I was part of an improv comedy troupe. So I just kept auditioning for jobs.
Samantha Brown said the best part of her job “is that I don’t get to travel to all these free places — it’s that I get to spend time with people in their everyday lives.”
Source: Samantha Brown Media Inc.
A writer recommended me to a production company that was looking for … a host. But I had to completely improvise my audition for it. That’s how I got the job.
When you’re a travel host, there’s no script. Yet it’s up to you to define the scene, understand the trajectory of a story and how to end it. Also in In improv, the golden rule is to never say yes, it’s always yes – keep things going.
After waiting tables in New York City for eight years, you start to get really humble. [but] I had the tools that got me a job I never dreamed I’d ever get.”
Job: “Creator ofStrictly dumplings” and other YouTube channels (total: about 8 million subscribers)
Start: Accounting and wedding videography
“I moved to the United States from China when I was 8 years old. My parents started working in restaurants, and eventually started their own very American Chinese restaurant. So I grew up on a steady diet of General So’s chicken and crab Rangoon.
There wasn’t much diversity where I came from, but it helped that my parents sent me back to China when I was 13. Most people fall to the ground and get sent home as punishment — I was sent to China for two years and I was like: Wow, that’s amazing — the people, the history — I want to know more.
After college, I went to New York and worked on Wall Street for a year. Then I became a wedding videographer because I wanted to be flexible. I was living in a small basement apartment in Brooklyn with no air conditioning, about $400 – a good week.
But this was the first time I was eating something that wasn’t Red Lobster and Olive Garden. I got to taste the diverse ethnic cuisines in Chinatown and I began to discover many of my traditions that I had never really seen before.
I started recording food videos on YouTube as a food diary for myself. I remember a conversation with a friend that food content would never be anything. No one online is doing this. I had 10 subscribers. Somehow it grew, which was never expected.
I never had a lot of money growing up – or throughout most of my youth. So I was always looking for something that was cheap but really filling and tasty. And that’s what I do now all over the world.”
Job: “Television host ofFamily trip with Colin Kelly”
“I tried out for the broadcasting school at the University of Texas. The school gives you a chance to be accepted into the program. I’ve never sat at an anchor desk with a camera pointed at me. I failed miserably.
Several years later, I graduated and got my first job in sales, eventually moving to Chicago and working in the pharmaceutical industry. The money was amazing, and I had a company car. But I wasn’t living my dream, and it was really starting to bother me.
In my early 30s, I got married and eventually quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom. One day, when my two younger daughters were in school, I went to the cable TV station in our town hall and asked if, in exchange for teaching me how to edit, I could host a local entertainment program about our village — like “Access Hollywood.” For 50,000-resident cities.
Because they had no other offers, they said yes. I acted confident, but I was as green as they come. Every time I did interviews and read voice-overs, I was gaining experience and knowledge.
Colin Kelly (left) with his family at the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria; and filming “Family Travel with Colin Kelly” at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland (right).
Source: Kelly Media Productions LLC
I confided in another mom that my dream was to host a national travel show, and surprisingly, she agreed to make it with me. We wrote a script, found a local cameraman for a few dollars, and made a pilot.
I had meetings with two big companies – both said no. I was told by a network that women don’t watch travel shows, so the idea of family travel didn’t appeal to them. I then sent thousands of emails to television stations. Nothing worked. Finally, my mother suggested I call the local PBS station. I googled the head of programming, called him (no email) and got a meeting.
After more meetings, we learned PBS was picking up two shows to go national and “Family Trip with Colin Kelly” was one of them.
We scraped by for a year, making 13 episodes of that first season. Now, the show has been running for over 10 years. And, the best part is that I can bring my family with me.
It’s been a long and difficult journey, but I hope this story inspires others to believe in themselves, ignore the naysayers and never give up on their dreams.”
Editor’s note: These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.