Lilliana Vazquez has been readying for her biggest gig yet — hosting two E! morning shows — for a decade, if not her entire career. The tenacious fashion expert and TV pro’s journey spanned the gamut from car commercials and selling bags on QVC to a stint on the Today show, and beyond. Take notes!
Tell us about your early career.
I started a small vintage accessories company, Applestar, in 2004, selling to a couple local boutiques. In less than a year, I was selling to 300 Nordstrom stores. I ran that business into the ground. I was too young, and thought I could do everything, but I couldn’t.
Then I moved to Philly and worked at QVC in Westchester as a handbag rep, where I worked overnight hours and was on for 120 minutes, no prompter or note cards, selling bags. I did every TV job under the sun — used car commercials, some gambling thing on the Internet, lifestyle segments on The Nate Berkus Show, and a lot of local TV. I’d drive to Baltimore to do weekend morning shows to promote my blog, The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style. My big break came at Channel 10, an NBC affiliate in Philly, where I did lifestyle news.
What led you back to NYC?
My agent called me and said, “New York Live is losing a reporter who’s moving to Los Angeles, so they need somebody to potentially take this job. They’re willing to try you out.” It was really my dream job — a lifestyle show covering fashion, beauty, restaurants, and celebrities in New York. I commuted to New York from Philly. It was a grind.
It paid off! What brought you to the Today show?
I’d pitched them for probably 18 months with no response. Then, a friend who’s a publicist booked me on the show, for a rainy day style segment. That was the start of an incredible six-year adventure as an expert, contributor, and correspondent.
Now you’re hosting two E! morning shows. How’s it going?
I think I was auditioning for 10 years for this job! E! News is all the entertainment and pop culture headlines, every morning, and Pop of the Morning is a continuation of one or two of those stories that’s a much deeper dive into pop culture, viral moments, entertainment, and celebrities. It’s the conversations you have at brunch with your best friends.
Are you waking up earlier these days?
My alarm goes off at 2:45 a.m. Our morning meeting is at 3:45 a.m, and we go through topics for potential stories. I go to hair and makeup around 5 a.m., get dressed, mic’ed, and briefed, and we’re live at 7 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., I’m off the air and ready for lunch. Or dinner! I’ve shifted everything earlier. I’m particular about what time I go to bed, by 8 p.m. I’m not the best, sharpest version of me if I don’t sleep six hours a night. It’s the biggest stage I’ve ever had, and I’m not gonna f**k it up!
What’s it like coming into Rock Center every day?
I get really, really emotional. My grandmother, who spoke probably five words of English, used to watch the Today show. She didn’t understand anything I was saying, but she could feel my energy, and she couldn’t have been prouder of me. She passed away four years ago, so she never got to see this part of my career. I think about how far I’ve come since my grandma moved her family here in 1971, with nine kids, not speaking a word of English, working the fields as migrant workers.
The fact I wake up, get to take a car to work, and walk into 30 Rock every day, it’s the most meaningful part of my morning. I just share gratitude to all the women, and my husband, who got me here. I do it every single day for them. People I idolized, none had two z’s in their last names, or spoke Spanish, then English. I have to blow open these doors, so I’m not the last person to walk into this building, or have this job in broadcast, that has my last name.
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