Zuri Hall looks back at her hosting career, from E! to 'American Ninja Warrior' and beyond

Zuri Hall is one of the most recognizable and trusted faces in celebrity news. Gibson Johns interviews the "Access Hollywood" correspondent about her latest gig co-hosting "American Ninja Warrior" on NBC, what she considers to be her big break in the business and what it was like working with Joan Rivers back in the day on E!'s "Fashion Police." They also discuss the changing nature of entertainment news, how she's able to keep things so positive, beginning her career as a sports correspondent and more.

Video Transcript


GIBSON JOHNS: Hi, guys. Welcome back to "We Should Talk," a pop culture interview series from In The Know. I'm your host, Gibson Johns. And today on the podcast, we have Zuri Hall, one of the co-hosts of "American Ninja Warrior," as well as a correspondent for "Access Hollywood."

I'm sure you recognize her from one of her many hosting gigs over the years. She is a stalwart of the entertainment news space, and has been for a long time. And I've always been an admirer of her work. I've always loved watching her host red carpets, host various shows. And she's just one of the best of what she does.

And so it was really fun to get some time with her, you know, to talk about these two big gigs that she has co-hosting both these shows. But also, just, like, her evolving career in the entertainment news landscape. I mean, this space has changed a lot over the past decade. And she's been in the game for over a decade so it was really interesting hearing her thoughts kind of, you know, on the dumbification of things, sort of on how things have changed for her.

You know, one of her biggest early breaks was being a guest on "Fashion Police" with Joan Rivers on E! back in the day. And obviously, you know, that era was a little bit more snarky. You know, people weren't afraid to say more negative things about celebrity looks and fashion. And I think the industry has evolved past that.

But there's definitely, like, a yearning, especially when there's a big red carpet event, for those days. I think that people kind of, like, want more of that snark, or at least more of that honesty, even if it skews negative. And I think that, again, they've sort of evolved past that. But hearing her, you know, opinion on that was really interesting. And she just had some really great takes on a lot of these different topics as it pertains to entertainment news and pop culture in general.

So I loved our conversation and I think you will too. So keep listening for my interview with Zuri Hall. Tune into "American Ninja Warrior" on Mondays at 8:00 PM on NBC. And check your local listings for when "Access Hollywood" airs in your area. Thanks for listening.


All right, so we are here with Zuri Hall, one of the co-hosts of "American Ninja Warrior" set to premiere this week on NBC. Also, one of the co-hosts of "Access Hollywood." Zuri, I've long admired your work as a host all across the board. And so I'm so excited to get some time with you. How are you?

ZURI HALL: I'm good. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be here. It's been a beautiful, sunny day in New York City. We're just promoting "Ninja," and then I'll be right back to "Access Hollywood" next week.

GIBSON JOHNS: There we go. So, you know--


GIBSON JOHNS: --when I was researching for this interview, I didn't realize that, you know, you had kind of gotten your start doing a lot of sports stuff.


GIBSON JOHNS: Kind of doing a lot of hosting and correspondent work around sports.


GIBSON JOHNS: Does this-- does this-- does this tap into something that you kind of hadn't been doing for a little bit as you kind of veered more into the entertainment and pop culture space?

ZURI HALL: Yeah, that's a great question. I appreciate that one. It does, absolutely. You know, when I first got my start, I was in local news. So I started in local TV, won a competition to become the face of a local television station in Indianapolis.

And things just kind of took off. The momentum really built an incredible way. And not long after, I landed in Indy, they were asking me to audition to emcee for the Indiana Pacers, the NBA team there. I got that job and I had to two, two and a half incredible seasons with the Pacers.

I started emceeing for the Minor League Baseball team there, the Indianapolis Indians. The Super Bowl came to Indy that next year and I was the official emcee for the Super Bowl Village for an entire week of performances leading up to the big game. So I did kind of look up and be, like, oh, well, my life has taken an unexpected turn.


ZURI HALL: I didn't see this coming.

GIBSON JOHNS: That's a quick-- that's a quick onramp to everything.

ZURI HALL: Right? Things escalated quickly, Gibson. They did. So it was incredible. I loved it. And yeah, "American Ninja Warrior" does sort of feel like a return to that element, which I have to say, I've missed because I love live television and I also love people. Like, so live events is--


ZURI HALL: --like, a dream for me. And on "Ninja," I'm the person who gets to be in the crowd shaking the hands, literally, holding the babies, like, crying with the Ninjas, cheering them on when they do well. And there's just so much excitement there, it's palpable. So it does kind of feel like I'm back on the court or the fields like I was in my earlier hosting days.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right. But it's cool that you can kind of bring the more human kind of personal interest element to this space, which I think is a really nice kind of crossover, I think.


GIBSON JOHNS: Or kind of like intersection of those two things. And it probably-- that's probably why you excel at this gig because it's, again, it's right in your wheelhouse.

ZURI HALL: Yeah. That's what I love most about it. You're so right. Because at the end of the day, I look at myself as a storyteller. So it doesn't matter if it's sports, if it's entertainment, if it's hard news.

You know, I'm also the face of the partnership between "Access Hollywood" and the Black and Missing Foundation where we're often highlighting the cases, cold cases of missing people of color, Black and Brown people of color. Talking to local authorities, talking to the family and friends of those loved ones who are missing.

No matter what the story is, if there's a story to be told, I want to be there telling it. And I want to add the heart to that story. That's what I'm always looking to do is just get to the heart of the matter. And it's really easy to see a show like "Ninja" and assume at the superficial level, like--


ZURI HALL: --oh, you're not getting that from this show. Oh, but you are, you know? Like, the stories that we have are so incredible. This year alone, you know, we have Sandy Zimmerman. She's a 46-year-old mother of three, was a physical education teacher for more than two decades.

And it was through "Ninja" that she's realized her life calling is actually to be a public speaker. She was the first mom, the oldest woman ever to finish a qualifying course. And she's found her purpose in this.

And I think even more special-- or not more special, but just as special is all of the moms at home who are watching with their kids, right? Crawling all over them--


ZURI HALL: --and, you know, doing whatever it is they have to do to take care of their household and their families. And then they're seeing Sandy and they're like, I think I could do that.


ZURI HALL: If she can do that, I can do that. And that's what these Ninjas do with their stories. And I get to be a very small part of helping to tell. So I appreciate that.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. And you're talking about sort of, you know, viewers kind of latching on to some of these stories and keeping something with them from that. But you also, as somebody who helps facilitate that storytelling, do you keep some of that with you as well? Kind of in those moments--


GIBSON JOHNS: --when you're-- like, do you-- are you, like, kind of in the moment? Oh, like, yeah, like, that rings true. Or yeah, like--


GIBSON JOHNS: --I can take that with me past this one little interview or--


GIBSON JOHNS: --this moment.

ZURI HALL: Yeah, I do. I think what I take more than anything is gratitude. You know, I think about how far I've come in my life. I've worked really hard. I'm so happy and grateful to be here.

But, you know, life comes at you fast. And because we're telling these stories and we're really getting into the nitty gritty of these Ninja's lives-- the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly, the heartbreaking even-- it's a very humbling experience to realize that, you know, some people have gone through so much before they even get to the start line, whether it's--


ZURI HALL: --dealing with their own sicknesses or losing a parent to a terminal illness or, you know, being told they would never walk as a child to not just walking, but running and completing this obstacle course. And it really puts your problems in perspective. And it really helps me stay in a place of gratitude for all of the blessings in my life. Because yeah, I feel really blessed. And--

GIBSON JOHNS: And you are.

ZURI HALL: It can always be worse. Yeah.

GIBSON JOHNS: Totally. I mean-- I mean, I was going to say, like, you're very booked and busy right now between this and "Access Hollywood."

ZURI HALL: We are.

GIBSON JOHNS: Those are-- I mean, you have other things going on, but, like, those are two really major gigs to be juggling. You know, it's interesting. I feel like for you in your career what I've noticed is that there's kind of a balance between doing a lot of these big gigs as tied to especially now, like, the NBCU family, and then doing a lot of these shows kind of across those networks.

But, you know, you also have your podcast. You also do other things that are, you know, more-- not "on the side," quote unquote, but they're--


GIBSON JOHNS: --they're things that you have to be a self-starter for and really push for yourself.


GIBSON JOHNS: And I'm curious if you could speak a little bit to the balance of that just in your career as a host and correspondent. Because I think that's something that a lot-- you know, It's kind of a peek behind the curtain probably a little bit, because I think a lot of people don't really know how that works, you know what I mean?

ZURI HALL: Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's a lot. And, like, yeah, it does kind of feel like a side hustle to a certain extent because you do. You have your home base.


ZURI HALL: You have, like, these two incredible shows that are sort of like the beating heart of my universe, you know, right now. And then I have my passion projects. And "Hot Happy Mess" is a podcast that I love being the executive producer of, the creator of.

I developed it. You know, it came from my heart years before I ever was even able to make it a tangible and real thing. And so now, it's a labor of love. And, you know, it can get, you know, a little bit overwhelming sometimes. Like, you get a little bit stretched thin on occasion just with everything that you have going on.


ZURI HALL: But I think that's all of us, just in different ways, right? Like we all know what that looks like--

GIBSON JOHNS: Of course.

ZURI HALL: --to be juggling so many different things. I have found that the key is just to be honest with myself and the people around me when it gets to be a little bit too much. You know, I remember interviewing Kaley Cuoco. This was probably about a year ago.

And she was talking about how she was on the set of this show and she was so overwhelmed. She was so stressed. She's like, but I can't tell anyone. I can't-- they're all depending on me. They're all depending on me.

And then one day, she just broke down. She collapsed. She was like, I can't do this. Like, I need help. And everyone was so thrilled to, like, show up for her and be like, oh my God, are you kidding? Like, of course, we've got you.

And I just loved her sharing that because her takeaway, which I've certainly taken away too is, you just have to speak up. You just have to say, hey, y'all, like, I could use a little bit of support. I could use a little help right now. And I feel very blessed to, you know, have an incredible team of supporters and people who help me do all of the things and make it look easy because it's not easy.


ZURI HALL: But I certainly couldn't do it without, you know, all of these incredible teams that are in place to help it all go so smoothly.

GIBSON JOHNS: Totally. Yeah. But it's like, if you don't speak up, people can't read your mind. Or otherwise--


GIBSON JOHNS: And if you assume that, you're going to suffer in silence until you do speak up.

ZURI HALL: Exactly.

GIBSON JOHNS: So that's a really valuable lesson to learn.

ZURI HALL: Exactly. Yeah.


ZURI HALL: Absolutely.

GIBSON JOHNS: So again, in doing some research, I was kind of trying to pinpoint if you had sort of like a big break. Because I feel like a lot of things-- like, a lot of things-- a lot of barriers broke down for you I think, like, around the same time it seems. Like, you talked about doing the Super Bowl Village emceeing. You appeared on "106 & Park." You were cast--

ZURI HALL: Oh, you did your research research.


ZURI HALL: You dug the archive.

GIBSON JOHNS: I did. You were a guest on "Fashion Police" back when Joan Rivers was with us still.

ZURI HALL: Joan, with Joan.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. I mean, like, and all those things were kind of happening around the same time for you. So do you-- did one thing kind of stick out as, like, something that led to more opportunity for you? Or do you feel like it was just kind of like a collective OK, I had a really big couple years where I got a lot of opportunities.

ZURI HALL: Yeah. Yeah.

GIBSON JOHNS: How do you think back to that time?

ZURI HALL: That's a great question. Wow. That's a really good question. Like, I even have to sit with what that answer is for me, you know? I think yes and no. I hesitate to say I had a big break because I never want to glamorize or romanticize the process.


ZURI HALL: It took so much work. It was a long, long road. I'm talking many, many, many, many years. And even in those moments, I look back and say, oh, that was a big deal. Like, those few things that happened in that short amount of time changed the trajectory of my career.

But in the moment, in the eye of those storms, you still feel like you're just climbing, climbing, climb. And you're tired and you're like, well, is that ever going to happen, God? And then you look back and think, oh, it happened.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah, exactly.

ZURI HALL: So I think yes to your point. Those early years, that was a big sort of pivotal moment. When I moved from New York to LA because E! asked me to join that team. That's also when I joined the NBCUniversal family.

You know, as you mentioned, I'd just done "Fashion Police" a year before, which is when I think I first started to get on their radar. And then opportunities started to come. And so that was kind of a big moment.

And then things kind of-- you know, I found my groove and I was just kind of like doing what I did. When I joined "Ninja Warrior," that was certainly a new defining moment. I think every few years, something sort of big happens.


ZURI HALL: Or it feels like the universe is sort of conspiring to, like, take you to that next level. To be honest with you, I feel it. Like, it's almost tangible and that feels like it's happening now. I don't want to jinx anything. Let me knock on all the wood.

GIBSON JOHNS: Knock on wood, yeah.

ZURI HALL: But yeah, I do feel like this is another one of those chapters for me. And I'm just so grateful for everything that's been coming and in these experiences. Because, like, it's not lost on me that none of it is promised, none of it's guaranteed. And I'm just so grateful.

And now that I can look back and say, oh, that's what that was, I can feel it when it's happening again, which also allows me to be just present in it. And not be like, oh, and more and more. Or climb, climb, climb.


ZURI HALL: Like, no, this is it. Like, I am where I want to be. I will take this.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah, absolutely. I'm curious if you could just reflect a little bit on the "Fashion Police" moment , specifically because, you know, the Met Gala just happened not that-- like, about a month ago. And--


GIBSON JOHNS: --you know, every time a big red carpet event rolls around, I kind of notice some of the chatter and the comments online, just around the whole thing is like-- there's this, like, yearning for that time I think where Joan Rivers sort of reigned supreme.


GIBSON JOHNS: And obviously, the commentary could get a little mean a lot of the time. But also, you know, she was being very honest and she wasn't mincing words. And she was openly critical of celebrities and what they wore. And I think that's something that people have strayed away-- strayed away from in recent years, especially I think that they've tampered down on that a little bit.

And I'm wondering if, like, since you experienced sort of end of the "Fashion Police" era--


GIBSON JOHNS: --if you could speak to sort of that change over the years. And like, what you think it says about people that they sort of miss some of that. You know what I mean?

ZURI HALL: Yeah. Yeah.

GIBSON JOHNS: Like, I'm curious if you could speak to that a little bit.

ZURI HALL: Yeah, you know, it's interesting and you're right. Like, the tide has certainly turned and things are evolving. I'll be honest, like, for me, being a girl from Toledo, Ohio who was very Midwestern and very proud of it, I'm big on kindness is cool.

GIBSON JOHNS: Of course, yeah.

ZURI HALL: And it's always been my thing, right? Like, even when I guest hosted "Fashion Police," first of all, Joan was the nicest human ever. I was this newbie, so green. Didn't come with my glam team.

I didn't even know that, like, you had to book your own glam team. That's just how clueless I was. I'd come to the show and I'm just sitting in this dressing room by myself. And Joan walks by and she pops her head in because it's like, why is this girl-- isn't she co-hosting the show today? Where are her people?

And so she literally goes, where are your people? Don't you need-- and I was like, people? I don't have any people. She's like, who's doing your glam? Who's doing your makeup?

I was like, I don't-- was I supposed to bring anyone? I don't know. I just came in my little dress ready to roll. And she was like, oh, no, no, no, no. So she goes and calls her glam team and says, you guys, do her makeup.

Get the girl together. Put her hair together. You look good, sweetie, but we're going to fix you up. I'm fine. I'll do my own stuff. And I'm like, Joan Rivers just gave me a glam team.

GIBSON JOHNS: That's incredible.

ZURI HALL: Right? So I say that to say, even for all of the snark that people knew and loved Joan for, she also had a heart of gold. And in my experience, was so kind. I think when I think about-- and I made sure when I was on the show, I'm like, I bring the-- I'll give you the fashion expertise and--

GIBSON JOHNS: You're the positive voice in that. Right, exactly.

ZURI HALL: --the cheerleader, right?


ZURI HALL: You know, I'm Paula Abduling all day, baby. OK? So that's just my vibe. That's genuinely how I am.


ZURI HALL: I agree with you. I think as we evolve as a society, we're just so fatigued by the criticism. And I get that some people want, like, the fun of the snark, but it's a delicate dance. And there are few people who can do it really well.


ZURI HALL: Who can toe the line of, like, just enough shade to where it's fun, but it's not mean-spirited. And I think there's a world where we can land there. And so it's like anything. The pendulum swings very sharply one way, and then the other way. And then in a perfect world, it slows down--


ZURI HALL: --and you kind of find a happy medium where you can get a little bit of both. So I'm thinking that it's starting to slide a little bit back towards the middle.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a really apt I think observation. You know, you've been involved in the entertainment news, pop culture space for over 10 years now. And--


GIBSON JOHNS: --I'm curious if there are any other big changes that you find particularly notable or have really impacted your job or your career--


GIBSON JOHNS: --over the past 10 years? And then kind of looking forward, is there anything you see sort of on the horizon as being the next big change that we might see?

ZURI HALL: Yeah, you know, my colleagues and I joke about this all the time. Sometimes we're close to tears about it too. We're just like, this industry is changing so quickly.


ZURI HALL: And for all of us. Like, everyone's just trying to, like, keep up and understand it. And it's exponential the way that the industry is evolving right now. Every industry. Like, technology is just moving humanity in a direction so much quicker that it's hard to keep up.

GIBSON JOHNS: It's overwhelming.

ZURI HALL: You know, when I started-- yeah, it can be really overwhelming. And so when I started in entertainment news, you know, you had your big go-to entertainment news shows and you had to watch those live shows or weeknights at a certain time to get the information about the celebrities that you knew and loved.

That's changing, right? Like, now we all have social media. You can go to your favorite A-listers Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok and they'll tell you in real time what they did today.


ZURI HALL: You don't have to wait, necessarily. And so I think it just brings a really unique opportunity for us to rise to the occasion. How do we meet the viewer where they are? How do we give them what they want? How can we be additive?

You can see, you know, the behind the scenes stuff on TikTok or whatever it is. But we still get those incredible exclusives. We still get A-listers who want to break significant news with us. We're still the only ones flying to London or Dubai or Hawaii to be on set for these really special moments.

So leaning into that. And, you know, you talked about kindness and the way that things are swinging now, I think it really works. It certainly has worked in my favor. I think it's worked in our show's favor and "Access Hollywood's" favor to really look at ourselves as friends of these stars.


ZURI HALL: Friends of these actors and singers. And it's a safe space to come to to talk and share your truth. But we're not looking-- I certainly am not looking for, like, the gotcha moment, right? Like,I don't feel good tricking anyone into telling me anything.

I want to create a culture or an energy exchange that makes you feel safe to want to share it. To want to share it and not be bracing, you know, with, oh God, I just said this and this and this and God help me. So I think approaching it that way continues to build trust with our celebs. And that way, we get things that otherwise they may not be giving to people, whether it's on social media or to a competitor.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's sort of how I look at it I think as well. And especially, I think now with maybe, like, the dumbification of some stuff and I think a lot of the TikTok commentary just like is really based in just like-- it's just, like, theorizing about things and less in fact, I think, and speculation, you know? And I think that's--

ZURI HALL: It's good.

GIBSON JOHNS: --that's another big aspect, and I'm curious what you think about that as well.

ZURI HALL: I'm glad you brought that up because yeah, at the end of the day, that might arguably be the biggest thing that we offer is credibility. At the end of the day, this is news. It's entertainment news, and we take that very seriously.

It's really easy to get on social media, you know, with a microphone or you're uploading and be speculative.


ZURI HALL: Or, you know, gossip. Or be like, oh, we heard this, but whatever. Like, there's a lot of fake news in the world, you know? It's easily perpetuated. Nobody cares about the truth if the lie is more interesting.

And so now more than ever, people need trusted sources. We're seeing that in hard news, right? When it comes to politics and conversations like that. I think the same is true in entertainment news.

If you see it on our show, by the time it's gotten there, if there's nothing else you can do, you can trust that it's been fact checked. That we've reached out to sources. We've given people an opportunity to make statements about whatever it is we're going to run.

We run this as the news organization that it is. And so that reliability and that credibility becomes more important in an ever changing age of technology when anyone can get online and say literally anything,

GIBSON JOHNS: Literally anything. And it can go everywhere within minutes.




GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. And, you know, that sort of gets into, you know, you have not-- especially, in recent years, I feel like, you know, you're an ambassador for the Global Fund for Children. You were involved in a special that Bravo did with a bunch of NBCU personalities called "Race in America" that I remember watching when that aired.

And, you know, both of those, as well as what we touched on earlier with the specials about missing people of color and then spotlighting that-- you clearly don't shy away from using your platform for change. To sell some of those stories, to try to enact good in the world. Is that something you've always felt empowered to do? Or is that something that has come with sort of with the years and with sort of establishing yourself as a really trusted personality?

Or is that something you've always been interested in doing? I'm wondering if you'd just speak a little bit to that as well.

ZURI HALL: I think the privilege of being able to do it has come as I've developed trust with the audience.


ZURI HALL: And also, with my executive producers and the network executives who make those decisions. You know, I could easily have come into the game and carved out a certain type of career for myself where maybe I'm getting more views or clicks more quickly or I'm getting Twitter worked up into a storm because of something I said that was clickbaity or wild.

But I always take the long game view. Like, that's just how I've always lived my life, even as a child. At seven years old, I was like, ooh, I can't do this because if someone takes a picture, then when I'm in Hollywood they might-- be like, girl, you're seven. Relax. They're probably no thinking about you on the resource court, you know? Or recess court.

But because I always take that long game approach, I was more-- I prioritized credibility, integrity, being able to look back at my body of work and always be proud of it. Have I had some misses? Absolutely.

Have I said a couple of cringe things or things where I'm just like, I don't really know even if that's my perspective these days? Yes! But overall, no, I take my job very seriously. And I try really hard to mean what I say. And I think over the years, that I've built enough trust for, you know, people to start giving me opportunities to have more serious conversations.

I've always been personally passionate about social impact, social justice, advocating for mental health, the power of the vote, especially the Black vote. You know, I gave the keynote speech to my local hometown NAACP chapter about midterm elections--


ZURI HALL: --and the importance of being active in that. So I've always-- I've always been passionate about it. I have a background in hard news. I anchored the evening news in Dallas, Texas when I was still in local news before I ever went national.

So by the time I got to Los Angeles, I had a credible news background in a working newsroom. I knew how to produce, write, pitch stories. I've won an Emmy, I've been nominated for an investigative reporting Emmy, my second one.

And so by the time I got to Hollywood, I had a skill set that allowed people to trust me with the heavier stories too, which I take a lot of pride in.

GIBSON JOHNS: And you mentioned, you know, in that answer a couple of moments where, like, maybe something you said will blow up on Twitter or people will take it the wrong way or whatever. How do you handle those moments? Do you just not look at your phone? Do you-- you know--


GIBSON JOHNS: I'm assuming that-- I'm a assuming that it doesn't happen, like, super often with you because I feel like, again, you mean what you say.


GIBSON JOHNS: And like we said, you keep it positive for the most part. But I'm sure there are moments that get taken out of context.


GIBSON JOHNS: So how do you handle a moment like that?

ZURI HALL: Definitely. And then that's what makes you more mad because it's like, how are y'all finding a way to be mad at me? Because I know when the cameras roll, I'm not saying anything that crazy. But you can say the sky is blue and someone will be personally offended.

Well, I had a great, great grandfather who told me, impossible, that the sky is actually purple. And now, I'm-- and you're just like, never mind. The sky is whatever you want it to be.


ZURI HALL: I couldn't care less. So at this point, I protect my peace by just not looking. I really don't. Like, sometimes, I'll work myself up and I'll be like, OK, we're going on Twitter. We're about to do it.

Zuri, just remember. No matter what you see, you know who you are, you know what you mean, and no one's going to sway that. And then we go and we look. And for the most part, it's overwhelmingly positive.

But yeah, sometimes you get that negative comment or that comment under the photo and it sticks with you more than 100 positive comments.

GIBSON JOHNS: Of course, always.

ZURI HALL: But I think it goes back to integrity, right? Just, like, knowing who you are--


ZURI HALL: --and being so sure of that that some random stranger on the internet is never going to have that type of power over me or how I feel about myself. Because they used to. I used to give that sort of power away when I was young and in my early 20s. Because you want to succeed, you want to be liked, you want to be approved of.

But as I've grown, I've sort of gotten out of that people pleasing page. And the person I most want to please is myself. And the people I love. The people that care about me and actually know me.

So when somebody tells-- if I told you, you know, you're a dinosaur, you would blink twice and be like, OK. I guess. But you're not personally offended. Because you know the truth of who you are.

GIBSON JOHNS: You know the truth.

ZURI HALL: And so I think as I've gotten more confident in who I am, I've started to care much less about.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and lastly, like, going off that, you know, I think-- I mean, we've talked about how you're not in the business of tearing these people down or of trying to paint people in negative light or do the gotcha moment. That's exactly how I approach things. I do a lot of stuff with Bravo talent that--

ZURI HALL: Yeah, yeah.

GIBSON JOHNS: --in the NBC family. And, like, I do try to keep it so positive. And I think that a lot of the times, away from an interview camera or away from Twitter or something like that, people will be like, OK, but what do you really think? You know, or what do you--

And I'm like, no, this is what I really think. If I have a negative thought, I actually try not to put it out there.


GIBSON JOHNS: But I'm curious if, like, again, as somebody who's covered celebrities for so often--


GIBSON JOHNS: --for so long. And, you know, everyone has opinions about celebrities. Is that something that you get, like, if somebody sees you at a coffee shop or recognizes you and wants to talk about the latest celebrity thing?


GIBSON JOHNS: And they want to say, like, what do you really think about that?


GIBSON JOHNS: Like, is that something that people try to get out of you?

ZURI HALL: Absolutely. I mean, you know. Like, for sure. And I get it. Like, I certainly want the T from certain people when I run into a room with them.

But I get a lot of, you know, like, who's the worst celebrity you've interviewed.

GIBSON JOHNS: Right. Always, the number one question. Yeah.

ZURI HALL: Yeah, or like, who was such a disappointment when you, like, met them. And I never-- like, publicly, I'm never going to give that information to a stranger. I just don't think it's appropriate.

But I would be lying if I say it with my best friends if they're like, OK, keep it real.

GIBSON JOHNS: Of course. Of course.

ZURI HALL: I'm going to be like--

GIBSON JOHNS: Trusted-- safe space, exactly.

ZURI HALL: Safe space. Trusted sources. The circle is tight. I'm talking back back to Ohio tight, OK? Like, came up from first grade on tight.


ZURI HALL: But no, for the most part, I also, when I'm interviewing these celebrities, even when you have a moment where you're like, ooh, I don't know if I love that. I take it with a grain of salt, because we all have bad days.

I don't know what they were doing before they got here. I don't know what they're not looking forward to doing after. I have my moments where I'm not, you know, operating at my best or I'm exhausted or I'm a little bit on edge. And I hope people will extend that grace to me. So I try to extend it to them.

And also, going back to the mental health and the peace thing, it makes it easier for me. If I can just let that go, you know, and shrug it off to they had a bad day and they had a bad afternoon. That has nothing to do with me and everything with them.

It also humanizes them in a way where, you know, I can't-- I can never reduce anyone to one bad moment. So I can't say for sure if they're a terrible person--


ZURI HALL: --and always a jerk.

GIBSON JOHNS: Yeah. That's the perfect way to approach it. Well, Zuri, this has been so much fun talking with you. And again, I really just--

ZURI HALL: Thank you.

GIBSON JOHNS: --admire your career. And before we sign off, when people watch "American Ninja Warrior" listen to your podcast. Do your plug before we sign off.

ZURI HALL: Yes, you guys can go binge old episodes of Zuri Hall's "Hot Happy Mess" wherever you get your podcasts. "American Ninja Warrior," our new season, season 15, premieres June 5, 8:00/7:00 Central on NBC. And it's so-- this season, like, we are upping the ante. We have Ninjas racing side by side for the first time ever.

So it is just a fight to the finish. $1,000,000, obviously, on the line. Our Mega Wall is 18 and 1/2 feet high now so we're just taking everything to New. heights. It's incredible.

And you guys are not going to want to miss it. Because this season is, like, nothing I have ever seen in my five years with the show.

GIBSON JOHNS: It's such good summer TV. I feel like it's perfect--


GIBSON JOHNS: --for the summer. Yes, 100%.

ZURI HALL: Yes, tune in.

GIBSON JOHNS: Zuri, thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your week. And hopefully we'll talk soon.

ZURI HALL: Thank you, Gibson.


ZURI HALL: Absolutely. So nice to see you. Take care.

GIBSON JOHNS: You too. Thanks for tuning in to "We Should Talk." I hope you enjoyed the interview. You can find out more about In The Know at intheknow.com. You can follow me, Gibson John, @gibsonoma on Twitter and Instagram. And you can listen to all of our interviews, past and future, by searching "We Should Talk" wherever you get your podcasts. Hope to see you next time.