TV Presenter and Red Carpet Reporter Justin Hill has a resume that will blow you away. He has experience up to the eyeballs, from interviewing celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Chris Hemsworth to jetting around the world for film premieres—not to mention the time Jason Momoa stole his scrunchie! We were so excited to sit down with Justin and hear all about his hilarious celebrity encounters, his advice for aspiring reporters, and how he’s living the dream he’s had since he was a kid!
How did you get into reporting?
I’ve always been a performer at heart. I like to call myself a ‘professional show off’—my childhood saw me putting on shows for my unwilling family members and pets. Being a red carpet reporter or a TV host always seemed like a goal I’d never be able to achieve.
As a kid growing up in Tasmania, the thought of doing this as a job was quickly dismissed with a shake of the head. Where would I even start? I wasn’t born into a famous family, I lived on an island—how would I even attempt at making my dream a reality?
After I got my first job at our local radio station that all of my friends and family grew up listening to, I sort of feel like that lit the fire inside me to aim for the impossible. If I could get that job, then why couldn’t I move to the big city and reach my dreams?
I got my break when I overheard that a reporter had called in sick at the radio station I was working at and there was no one to cover an event. My arm shot up quicker than you could say the name of the movie that was premiering that night! I still to this day volunteer for different roles and experiences, knowing that the next one could potentially catapult me into the next incredible experience.
What are your favourite parts about red carpet reporting?
There’s a space in time where everything goes quiet when you’re about to interview a star on the red carpet. I always get butterflies and often find myself having a ‘pinch me’ moment. Even after 10 years of interviewing celebrities, there’s that moment when everything goes into slow motion and I say to myself, “Wow, I’m really about to interview this person! Who would have thought this would be my life?!”
Let’s talk about career highlights—who’s been your favourite person you’ve met or moment you’ve had?
I have so many favourite moments from over the years. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Japan, Korea, LA, and Singapore to attend movie premieres and interview people like Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Hamill (a.k.a. Luke Skywalker himself!), and more.
One memory in particular was when I was at a junket to interview the cast of a Netflix show. After I had finished a couple of interviews, one of the big bosses from Netflix in the US came up to me and asked what I was doing in the interview rooms to make everyone laugh. She said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. This is the happiest I’ve heard them all day.” That was such a pump up of my tyres; it felt good to know I was genuinely making a connection not only with the talent, but also with the team working around them.
The nicest celebrity I’ve interviewed absolutely has to be Angelina Jolie. For someone who is placed in the ‘unreachable’ category amongst celebrities, I was tickled pink that she was so engaging and present in our chat. Plus she laughed at my jokes, which always helps.
Who’s not as intimidating as he/she seems?
Aquaman Jason Momoa! I spent half of the day in the lead-up to our interview trying to find a pink scrunchie in Sydney. I had long hair at the time and wanted to be a twin with him after seeing him rocking a similar scrunchie around his wrist in his interviews, red carpets, and promotional events. As soon as he spotted me, he promptly took it off my wrist, popped it in his own hair, and took off with it. I was beside myself as he then wore it on the rest of his promo tour. He owes me $12!
Have there been any celebrities who are tough to crack?
I was given a hot tip that Adam Driver is a hard nut to crack, so I really went out of my way to find something to talk to him about that I knew would make a connection.
While everyone was asking him what it was like to hold a lightsaber and how they made it glow, I spoke to him about his work with retired veterans and his charity that helps them get into the arts as actors or performers. I could literally see on his face that I’d surprised him when I asked about it and at the end of our interview he shook my hand and thanked me for asking him about something no one else had bothered to. I quietly did a little fist pump to myself as I walked out of the room.
Have you ever ticked off a celebrity?
I really try hard not to! I go into every interview telling myself that I want to be the best interaction they have all day. I want to be well-researched and respectful of the fact that they have a reason to be there (to promote a movie, a song, a product, etc.). But I also want to make an impact on them so that the next time we meet, they remember who I am.
Don’t get me wrong, though—I’ve done some stuff that SHOULD have pissed people off, but it usually turns out okay. I got Kevin Hart to throw pennies at me once, asked Rami Malek about his junk when he played Freddie Mercury, dressed up as a mermaid for Chris Hemsworth’s wife Elsa Pataky and was slapped on the bum by Hugh Jackman. And I wouldn’t change a thing!
What are your career goals over the next few years? Is there anyone on your dream interview list?
Kris Jenner is on my dream interview list! I’ve met Kim Kardashian and spoken with Khloe on the phone, so I guess I just want some of their ‘famous for being famous’ talent to rub off on me. Or some of their money, I’d take that too.
I have a few TV shows in the works at the moment, one of which is a series I’ve been working on for about a year and I’m so excited for the world to finally see it. I’d also like to be the change of guard in Australian TV presenters. I’m from a breed of people who are ready, willing and ever so slightly shoving out those who have come before us—those who stammer at the thought of TikTok or how one would edit one’s own interview.
What are your top tips for great red carpet reporting?
If you’re planning on creating a video or a podcast from your content, have the idea completely planned out in your mind. That way you can lead your talent to the answer that you need to make this piece of content and make it sparkle. In saying that, be ready to pivot and change at the last minute if it doesn’t go the way you planned.
LISTEN to what is being said to you so that you don’t miss any gold. I’ve seen other hosts botch interviews because they don’t listen to their guests. They focus on getting through their questions and completely miss a potential story that the talent was about to lead them to.
Finally, respect and appreciate the team of people that have put this event together, from the publicist to the event planner to the film company. Everyone has worked their ring off to pull off this event. Don’t ruin it by asking an irrelevant question or upsetting the talent just to get what you want.
Are there any tough aspects of the job?
You often have to work for free in the beginning of your career. You will eventually get to a point where you can monetise what you’re doing, but at the start, be prepared to do this for a passion project and have a separate full-time job to support yourself.
What advice do you have for students who want to get into reporting or journalism?
Work hard and give it everything you’ve got—and then work a bit harder. There’s always someone snapping at your heels to take your job and if you don’t present yourself as a dynamic, well-rounded presenter with lovely hair, someone else will.