‘SYTYCD’ host Cat Deeley on style, social media and smiles

By Carl Coccari,

In between stops on the So You Think You Can Dance audition tour, Cat Deeley, the show’s fashionable, flair-filled host, chatted with TheCelebrityCafe.com on Valentine’s Day about social media, style, and how one fan can get the chance to be her red-carpet date by sharing the best smile story as part of a Crest 3D White promotion. Deeley also shares the secrets of SYTYCD success and offers a peek behind the scenes. The show, now in its 10th season, has already tested the skills of thousands at auditions in Austin, Texas, and Detroit. It is headed to Boston on Feb. 21., Memphis on March 14 and Los Angeles on March 22.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Cat Deeley: [Laughing] I’m such a bah humbug about the whole affair. I am the grinch that stole Valentine’s Day. I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person. It shouldn’t happen just on Valentine’s Day, it should happen all the time -- just little thoughtful little things all the time and a lot more than a slightly cheesy card. It sounds terrible, doesn't it, and completely un-girlie. And I’m sure if a giant bunch of flowers did arrive at the door I would scream slightly and get slightly weak at the knees. I mean, I wouldn't throw them back in their face, but at the same time, I’m not a big Valentine’s person .... Maybe I need to soften up a little bit.

TCC: You’re touring across the country now for So You Think You Can Dance auditions, recently stopping in Detroit. Where are you off to next?

CD: We were doing 15 hours days in Detroit. It’s actually a little funny, because initially you have preconceived notions about a city. I was slightly apprehensive about Detroit. But I had such a great time. The people were amazing. I mean, people can really move. They’re brilliant. They're enthusiasm is infectious. So it was great. We have such a great time in Detroit, and then next week we head to Boston. We’re also going to go to Memphis, and we going to do audition in L.A. And then, you know how it goes, and then we bring the best people to Vegas, they do Vegas week, and they we we pick the top 20 to go on the show.

TCC: You seem to have an envious amount of fun. I was looking on Twitter and Instagram. I see you’re a big social media fan.

CD Yes, I like it because you’ve got to remember I moved to L.A. probably about seven years ago. And for me it’s a way to stay in touch with my friends and family that are all over the globe, and it feels really nice, it feels like you’re still a big part of their lives.

And actually, on the Crest 3D Facebook page, we are doing a competition for somebody to come to the Young Hollywood Awards with me. This is what they have to do -- they have to upload their smile stories. Anything from smiling across the room and finding the love of your life to something embarrassing, like falling down and laughing about it. Whatever you fancy. The person with the best story will come to the Young Hollywood Awards with me.

We’re still waiting find out a date of when the Young Hollywood Awards are. One thing we do know is they’re going to be fun.

It’s all about celebrating young talent in Hollywood. It’s not going to be stuffy, it’s going to be really fun. And it’s great to take someone on the red carpet with me. Red carpets always terrify me a little bit, just because I’m a bit of a klutz. So I’m always the person who will have something in their teeth, or do something embarrassing. I’m always that person. It will be quite nice to have a friendly face to give me just a little of more confidence.

TCC: With social media, your audience gets to see a little bit behind the scenes before the show airs.

CD: I know everybody always says this, but the team that works on the show are brilliant -- we’ve basically had the same team since we’ve started, and everybody has a great time. It is the best show I’ve ever worked on in terms of fun, creativity. It’s just really great fun. And I think you can see that through the pictures. And don’t get me wrong, some of the pictures are completely ridiculous, but we do get to have a good time.

TCC: Lately, what are the auditions like? Over time, dance moves change, styles change. Have you seen an emergence of anything different this year?

CD: Yes, it’s threefold, really. The first is that I think that dancers have realized that it’s not just about the dance styles. They’ve to bring their personality, their humor, their story. We’re looking for a star. We’re not just looking for a great dancer.

The second thing is that dancers know they have to be inventive. They know that it means they have to be creative with some styles -- it becomes something that the judges haven’t seen before that will really grab them right between the eyes.

The third thing is that you’ll find that there are different dance styles in certain areas, like in Detroit -- I had no idea, but apparently there is a dance style that is very unique to Detroit -- it’s called “the Jit.” It’s lots of fancy footwork, very, very, quick footwork, kind of mixture of a little bit of breaking as well in there. It’s brilliant. And that to me is a really amazing thing. It’s really authentic.

For me, during the show, I get to travel to places across America that I would never get the chance to see. I love places like Memphis and Austin and, oh!, I love New Orleans and beignets and coffee at two o’clock in the morning. I love being part of the American culture.

I love that fact that I’m not just being a tourist in America, but that I actually get to see people and understand the culture.

TCC: You get the opportunity to get a sense of what the town is about aside from staying in a hotel or doing auditions or go the show?

CD: Oh yes, certainly, because normally what happens we kind of get an afternoon off on the first day, if not a day off in the middle sometimes because the theaters can’t all accommodate us. And I’m such a square, I was such a complete nerd in high school, so we do loads of preparations for different places, so I'll find out those places like furniture stores or art galleries or vintage shops, or great restaurants. Rachel Ray gave me some restaurants in Boston. I kind of do my research. Often we’re filming and recording at landmarks.

TCC: One of the things you’re known for is your fashion sense, especially on the show. You come out with things that are unexpected. Where do you get your influence from?

CD: I’m very lucky in the fact that, because the kids are dressed like angels and devils and aliens, it means I can really push the envelope, too.

And as far as fashion, no one knows how you feels on a day, and carry off, and how you feel most comfortable and confident, better than you do yourself. I don’t think any stylist can tell you how you’re feeling. And so I do this myself. There are kind of three elements to that: the first thing is that I have some designers who are friends and occasionally lend me things. The second is that I shop for things. …

Thirdly, I’d like to stress that ... because the demographics of the show is fundamentally 16- to 35-year-olds ... you don’t have to spend $2,000 on a dress, and I don’t think that’s important.

I think style is about interpreting fashion in your own way. You don’t necessarily have to be a millionaire to have great style and I think that it’s something that should be celebrated and I think that individuality should be encouraged. I think that you can get that dress for 25 bucks and style up with a great pair of shoes and a fabulous pair of earrings. Anybody can do that. I don’t anyone should try to emulate anyone else. I think it’s about discovering your own fashion sense. And sometimes I get that right and sometimes I get that wrong.

TCC: Tell me something that people might not know about you going through the experience that you go through every year. It has to be grueling. What might people not expect that you do during that time.

CD: It is grueling and I think that it’s like that for everybody. …

What happens is on the very first day, when all the dancers are outside lining up waiting to go in for auditions, I go down the line, and I meet people, and I eat peoples’ breakfasts and I sleep in their sleeping bags and we do silly dances and they parade me around and lift me up or I speak to their family, or whatever it is. And what the weirdest thing of all is that quite often, there are people I speak on the lines are actually people that make it later on to the top 20 and make it to our stage in Hollywood. And at that stage we don’t know any of their back stories, we don’t know about their styles, we don't know what they’re like, we don’t know any of that. It’s as though their face screams out of the crowd. It’s not about being the smallest or the cutest or the most handsome, it doesn’t make any difference. There’s that something about somebody ... about being comfortable in their own skin and they stand out in the crowd.

TCC: How did you get involved in Crest 3D White?

CD: They approached me about working on the Crest 3D White strip, first of all, and then the whitening toothpaste and then the rinse. And I just liked the idea of it. One of my biggest things is, that I meet people all the time and I have great experiences with strangers … you can have great shoes, you can be wearing a fabulous pair of earrings, but I guarantee you that the love of your life won’t remember the pair of earrings on that day that he met you. It will always be the smile that does it every time. I think people should smile just maybe a little more.

Until you can see her when So You Think You Can Dance returns to FOX this summer, follow Cat on Twitter @catdeeley for some of those infamous pictures! Or visit her web site - officiallycatdeeley.com/.

Enter to win your chance to walk the red carpet with Cat now through March 8, 2012 on Faceboook.

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