For 14 years, BET’s 106 & Park has not only redefined television for millenials, but made stars out of its hosts. Filling the shoes of 106 legends like AJ Calloway, Free, Rocsi Diaz and Terrence J. may seem a daunting task, but current host Keshia Chante makes it look easy. Alongside “King of 106” Bow Wow, the Toronto native is quickly carving her own piece of BET history.
Already a bonafide star in her native Canada, Keshia’s infectious energy wins over viewers every night and now we know why. Vixen was recently invited to the 106&Park HQ’s for some girl time with the singer and host. During our mani sesh, Keshia was an open book as she told us all the juicy deets about 106 and her life off-camera.
Photo Credits: Sharifa Daniels
VIBE Vixen: How has 106 & Park been?
Keshia: I’ve been watching the show since AJ and Free and I wasn’t expecting to be a host on the show. But it’s been a lot of fun. With Bow, he’s such a personality, so it’s cool to be around someone like that. He’s just so big and loud and aggressive.
What’s your relationship like off camera (with Bow Wow)?
He’s like my little/big brother; however, you want to look at it. He picks on me, I pick on him. I don’t turn up with him. I’ve decided not to because he’ll roll into work and be like, “Man, last night was crazy. I’m so tired, Kesh.” And I’m like no, I can’t live like you. He’s a fun person.
How long did you know each other before hosting?
We were both on Sony US years ago and I was 18 probably and when we did the “Shorty Like Mine” Chris Brown music video. My marketing manager at the label called me and was like “Do you want to be the lead girl? Bow Wow’s going to send you a text and cordially ask you to be in the video.” So, he invited me, but he did it in a very “you wanna come chill with me,” like trying to like pull a move and I wasn’t really receptive. So, we got to LA and he was like “she’s the worst” because he was trying to be cute and I wasn’t about it. So I ended up being Chris Brown’s lead girl. And he called Angela [Simmons] to save the day. Now we just tease each other, so it’s cool. It ended up working out.
Why do you think 106&Park continues to resonate with viewers?
No other network even plays music videos anymore. I think it’s just a fun time for kids when they come home; or even college students and adults to come home and have something to watch. And we play things that are cutting edge and not even poppin’ on the radio yet.
Did any of the former hosts reach out to you when you got the job?
You know what, Terrence was the first person to ever see me come on the show. When I first got here, he really wanted me to do well and went as far as getting my phone number and being like, “okay this is what you need to do: Make sure you study your lines as much as possible. During commercial break, don’t use that as time to be socializing with the audience; make sure that’s your moment to practice with the teleprompter.” He was really aggressive in teaching me how to be as good as I could be and land the role.
What do you think makes you a successful host?
I’m not scared to make fun of myself. I’m not trying to impress a dude. I want to make people laugh-it’s supposed to be a fun show. I felt like the other hosts were fun, but I think I go a little bit further. I’m not afraid to look a hot mess or to be outrageous. A couple of weeks ago, I watched some episodes of Bow before I came on and now, he’s open to being funny.
Is it more work than you expected?
I didn’t expect it to be that way. I thought it was just going to be me reading a teleprompter. We have meetings every week. I give my input and ideas for the show. One of Bow’s ideas was ‘106 Backroom.’ Even in the writing, a writer will come to the room and show me the script. Everybody wants it to be the best show it can be.
Who’s been your favorite guest on the show so far?
It has to be Michelle Obama; that was like still not real to me. It was just so shocking. She had secret service come in. They went through the whole building; top to bottom, every dressing room, every drawer, every nook and cranny. Even when we were filming the show, on the scaffolding we looked up and there were sniper shooters. She’s so cool.
Who has made you the most nervous?
It was Mariah Carey. She didn’t come to 106 & Park; we went to her studio. She invited us to go. She has her own lighting. I walked in and she was like “this is what happens when you’re around a diva queen, honey.” She had her own champagne and was like “You want a glass of champagne, honey?” I looked up to her my whole life. I was so excited. Just the whole interview, she was really playful.
Terrence J and Rocsi have both tried acting; what are your plans for that?
I’ve done acting before in Canada. That was a lot of fun. Right now, priority is 106 & Park and music. I really just want to master being a television host right now. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Between the teleprompter and the earpieces and the DJs that are loud and the kids that are screaming and it’s live television, the content is changing throughout the show constantly. I just want to get to a point where I just make it look easy and once I get to that point, then I’ll expand into acting and stuff.
What celebrities would you like to see on the show?
They’ve been on the show, but not with me as the new host. I’m excited for Beyoncé and Rihanna. They are just fun girls. I’d like to see them. I can’t wait for Kanye to come on the show. I’m actually scared. I am kind of terrified. I think the trick with him is that the audience can’t scream. I kind of like when he rants.
How would you describe your style on the show?
I bounce around. I really like to be comfortable. In my dream world, I wear a beanie, baggy jeans, and crop top. I also like to be the trendy girl with the skinny jeans and the baggy sweater. Every week, the style team knows I want one baggy/comfortable outfit, one with really cute shoes and one that’s a dress.
What’s your style like off camera?
Glam with a little street. J-Lo’s my favorite fashion icon, especially when she’s in her “Jenny From The Block” moment and mixes urban with high fashion.
Is there a fashion or beauty trend that you are sick of?
You know what I hate? Uggs, but I just bought two of them from Nordstrom… I hate these things, but I’m wearing them.
Any celebrity crushes?
My boyfriend was my celeb crush…locked that in (laughs). You know who I was obsessed with when I was younger? Michael Ealy. Also, I like Chris Brown when he’s blonde. One thing I don’t like-especially on 106-all the guys that come on the show; it’s the same, “hey baby.” Keshia don’t play that. I like guys that aren’t feeling themselves at all and are respectful and normal. You can be a rockstar, but I don’t want to feel like you’re a rockstar.
How long have you lived in New York?
I moved for the job from Toronto. I was in the city for about a month and then I got a place in the suburbs. I just wanted to have a separation from the crazy city. One of the adjustments is just the amount of action. It’d be 3am and I’d hear music and it’s hard to sleep because you want to see what’s going on. Traffic is crazy, but I love that you can get anything you want.
Do you have any favorite spots?
Serafina; I order it everyday for lunch. Dylan’s Candy Bar is the devil. I’ve been to Greenhouse and I’ve done the 1Oak thing. That was really fun, but I’m not too clubby.
When are we going to hear more music from you?
I’m working on it now. I’m very excited about it. It’s very R&B and authentic. You’ll get to know who I am for the first time in my career. It’s edgy and honest. It’s a lot more like Miguel, Frank Ocean or The Weeknd. In Canada, you have to do pop music because there’s no place for R&B to really live on the radio. So, you have to find a healthy medium like a Usher “OMG” or Chris Brown pop record.
Will there be collaborations?
Right now it’s literally been me just experimenting with sounds and being creative. I don’t think it’s at the point yet where I’m ready to collaborate with anyone, but I definitely intend to.
How do you find time to do everything?
The weekends; that’s the best time. How do I find time? I’m obsessed with schedules. So, I will put “fun time” in my schedule or I’ll look and see that I have Friday afternoon and Saturday night and I’ll text the girls and we’ll do something.
And you have your relationship, too.
And he’s on the road for his sports, so that’s pretty cool because I know his schedule for the whole year. So, when I know he’s away, I’m like “turn up!” and when he’s home I’m domesticated, cooking full on gourmet meals. Even before coming to the show, I have a trainer that comes to the house. There’s so many things going on, but you balance it if you’re good with schedules.
Have you ever Google’d yourself?
Actually this is a funny story. I was on the radio for the first time when I was like 14-years-old. And I was like “Mom, does that mean I’m going to be on Google?” and she was like “yes, honey you’ll probably be able to see.” So I Google’d myself and it was like a message board and a photo of me and they were like ripping me to shreds. I balled my eyes out. I grew up in a high school where nobody looked like me. I didn’t understand why I had braids and why I had poufy hair.
All the girls had blond hair and blue eyes and all the guys that I thought were cute didn’t even look at me. I had such a disposition about it, so after reading that…the internet was banned. I have a team of people that check my Twitter and Instagram and if they see anything super negative, they’ll like delete it or block the person, so by the time I get to it I never actually see it. I decide to isolate myself from that world. It’s not because I don’t have thick skin; I do it because it’s just negative energy that just manifests itself.
Did you have an awkward phase?
I totally had an awkward phase. Well, I was like awkward from like 7 to 16; maybe 18. Actually, I was awkward at 20 (laughs). My dad is from Trinidad and my mom is Portuguese and Puerto rican and I went to school and again; noone looked like me. My grandparents lived in Georgia right outside of Atlanta and in the summer my mom would like ship me off to my grandparents and there were so many people that looked like me. I started to get the culture and feel like I belonged to something. I started to be proud of myself. It changed the way I went back home. I was more confident.
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