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HGTV'd Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Tanika Ray on June 3, 2011 about the show HGTV'd. Tanika Ray

Question:
What initially drew you to this project?

Tanika Ray:
I've been in entertainment for a while in Hollywood and have loved those jobs, living my life on the red carpet and in junkets. But there was always this little passion of mine that sort of sat in the back of my brain, something that really counterbalanced my crazy glamorous life out there in Hollywood, and it was interior design. I had HGTV on my television constantly, like most of America is what I am finding out, and I loved to sort of escape from the busy world. I would take off my work uniform and get into interior design mode, and look at paint swatches and redecorate my space. It was a way for me to get centered.

We all came together and I realized that this is the perfect job for me, and it was a way for me to really tap into my creativity. Even though I'm not designing personally, I get to tap into the brains of the designers that are on our show, and they constantly inspire me and stimulate my own creativity, and to see what we're able to do with just transforming people's homes is out of control. I can't even to begin to explain to you the joy that these families have when we're done, and to know that means something to somebody is transformative in my life right now. So I'm so grateful.

Question:
I know you're still in the process of filming, but so far from what you've done what has been the most memorable moment?

Tanika Ray:
That's like choosing your favorite child. That's almost impossible. I think the moments that are always my favorite are right when the homeowners open their eyes. They have five days of us living in their house, going through their bathrooms, living in their kitchen. We really take over their personal space and we become somewhat of a family, but at that moment when they finally get to open their eyes and see the results of everybody's hard work, that is a magical moment you can't recreate. You can't fake it. It is something that I'll always have in the back of my brain. It's like, pow. It's like a glimmer in their eyeballs. It's beautiful.

Question:
Is the budget set for each episode and can you tell me a number?

Tanika Ray:
Every time we get with a designer they're like, "Oh my gosh. I've always wanted to do like out of the box design," and we finally get to do it on HGTV'd. When it comes down to doing design for HGTV'd, it's really limitless where the boundaries are. So we give them a big budget for them to really express all of their artistry and they leave fulfilled, happy, and they feel like they've gotten some real good juice out of their system.

Question:
Is it always a certain number of rooms or does it vary?

Tanika Ray:
It depends on what the family needs, because in modern homes, a lot of times there's big open floor plans that are a kitchen with a dining area with a living room area that's kind of all one big space. To neglect the kitchen side of a big room would be really irresponsible on HGTV'd part, and we would never leave it like that.

So in one case there's a kitchen, dining, living space that we just did the whole space. So it's kind of one space split into three, but we made sure that we made it a complete project. In other spaces, it's a transitional room, and other spaces it's an outdoor area, but we make sure that space is complete. We hope that if it's so opposite from what's going on in their house, trust me, it's a jumping off point for them to redecorate the rest of their house to sort of match with what we're doing. It's a point of inspiration for them.

Question:
What's the secret behind your look?

Tanika Ray:
I don't know how it became somewhat of a hair icon. It makes my mom giggle to this day because as long as I'm alive, she spent the time saying, "Would you please comb your hair." So the fact that women love my hair is somewhat of a miracle, but there is no secret. I was just born with what I call "strange" hair that just tends to curl up. When I get out of the shower I literally shake it and I go. So the thing about HGTV'd, that is going to catch me, is that it's 360. It's a reality show where I can't necessarily make sure my hair looks perfect from every angle. So hopefully after they see the show they'll still like my hair. That's finger crossed on my end.

Question:
How did you end up on HGTV?

Tanika Ray:
They called me and asked me if I was interested in doing a show on HGTV, and I said without hesitation, "Absolutely. What do you mean? I can't believe that you guys would even consider a girl from the entertainment world." I've never seen those two elements cross, but I was absolutely game for it, and when I found out what the show was about, I auditioned and I was like, "Oh, you guys don't understand. I'm the girl." I basically campaigned for it, if that's okay to say.

But it's just a passion of mine, and to be able to work in a field that you're passionate about I think is the key to life really when it comes down to it, and I've always been really a lover of design and paint colors and how to decorate a space because I've never. I don't think I ever will, hire a decorator. I micromanage my space and my space???something that I'm really proud of is you walk into my home and it is quintessential Tanika Ray, without a doubt.

I've always been somebody that really prides themselves in that. That I think your sanctuary, your womb, your space, your domain, should be exactly who you are as a person. So it's colorful. I've got all kinds of patterns, all kinds of details going on in my house, and it makes me feel cozy. It makes me feel like it's a place where I really want to spend time, especially in these economic times that we're living in. It's got to be your favorite place in the world to be, and I absolutely insist on it. So to be on a show that's providing people with their favorite place in their home to be? That was money. That was like, "Score!"

Question:
It's skies-the-limit. It's fantasy. It's all that stuff. Is it also like race against the clock?

Tanika Ray:
Well that's always a part of a makeover show, and lucky for us we've got five days. You will see five full days of construction, well first demo, construction, styling, and we need five days. In some cases, we need more than that, but it's always race against the clock. And what I love about the fact that we have different designers on each episode, that's never been done before on HGTV, is the fact that everyone comes with their different sort of, their different game plans. They come with their different way that they do work, and so some designers come in and they know everything that they're going to do. They've already mapped it out. They've already planned it to a T.

So there are no surprises. Well expect for the typical, "The carped didn't come in or the paint was the wrong color," but for other designers they're like, "I know that we're in this space. I don't know what I'm going to do from here. I'll let you guys know in a second," and the construction people are losing their minds. So I love the natural drama that comes along with everybody sort of, the way that they work, their little game plan. It's really stimulating for us. So you'll see; drama is inherent in this process.

Question:
And the family is out; they're out the door for five days?

Tanika Ray:
It's just really about the homeowner's point of view. So the homeowners are there. They get to hear the things crashing on the floor, which of course adds to the drama. We let them stay in the house until on the fourth day when we say, "All right. That's it. The next time you see your space it's going to be a complete surprise and it'll be completely done," so it's a little bit of torture that last day, but they get to stay there.

You know we say this all time, HGTV'd is all about surprises on top of surprises on top of surprises. So even when the homeowners see the wallpaper that went up, they can't even imagine all the other things that will happen, and that's what I'm learning is the complexity of the different layers of designing a room. It's like, "Yes, they might know the wall color, but they have no idea when it's all said and done what the impact is going to be." So trust me. It's going to be really great. It's a really fun show to work on.

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