A few days before the madness of Comic-Con 2015 began, I got an email offering me a few interview opportunities – one of which happened to be with Kristin Dos Santos from E’s TV column Watch with Kristin. Kristin has been one of my inspirations for a long time, even back in the day when I thought her name might have been Wanda (see more on that below).
I first met Kristin back in 2010, it was my second year covering Comic-Con, and I have to admit – I geeked out a bit when I saw her covering the Hawaii Five-0 press room I was in. After the room wrapped up, I introduced myself, told her I was a big fan and asked for a quick pic.
Five years later, I had the chance to interview her and hear more about her journey being a TV journalist and her thoughts on the current state of TV fandom. Needless to say, I once again geeked out.
How Kristin Got Her Start
Kristin went to Loyola Marymount University and majored in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Then, she actually worked for a couple newspapers – the Ventura County Star and the Daily Breeze newspaper. She was doing hard news reporting when she heard about the opportunity with E! Online. Kristen described it as a vast new frontier that hadn’t really been explored yet. The idea of spoilers was pretty new.
“There was actually a girl who was doing a TV column at E called “Watch with Wanda,” and she had a friend that worked at The WB and had this inside information. Sort of on a whim, she said, “Let’s just start this TV character and see if anybody cares to know what’s coming up on TV shows.” Spoilers weren’t really a thing yet,” Kristin explained. “So Wanda had started it and then she got a job writing a script for a Britney Spears movie, then also an MTV show after that. She left and they were looking for someone who somewhat resembled her and loved TV.”
The columnist was offered a few other writing deals in film and television, and the position opened up at E. They were looking for someone to come in that resembled her style and loved TV. The irony was that Kristin had been in college and working crazy hours with three jobs. She hadn’t really had time to watch TV, even though she loved it.
“I loved TV all growing up, but then in my college years and the first two years after college, I just didn’t really have time. It was sort of my rediscovery of my love of television. They slipped me into that “Watch with Wanda” column slot,” Kristin explained. “Now I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. Obviously at a certain point, the name Wanda changed to Kristin, primarily because it was weird to begin with and then it became more and more strange as things went on.”
Watch With Wanda Becomes Watch With Kristin
Curious as to how Kristin shed the “Wanda” name? She actually did it in a pretty creative way. She was outed on The Price Is Right, where she wore her real name on her name tag.
Everything really started for Kristin with a once a week live chat with fans. She would get asked about certain shows, and then when she went to check them out – she got hooked herself.
“I got really into all the shows that had a devoted fan following and just immediately loved the sense of community and sharing that sort of special bond with people that you don’t have everything in common, but you have this in common,” Kristin explained. “It’s a lot of fun to talk the inner workings of TV with people who really love TV.”
Out of the most passionate and vocal fandoms currently reigning online, Kristin brought up her experience with Outlander as one of her favorites.
“I’ve noticed that it’s a slightly different tone than other fandoms… I don’t see a lot of negativity. There’s no warring, shipping faction. Factions are just really legitimately, genuinely supportive of each other and everyone on the show. That’s kind of cool to see because anytime, obviously, you have a core love triangle, you’re setting yourself up for some really nasty shipper wars,” Kristin explained. “I think maybe just because “Outlander” doesn’t have a love triangle and also, they have book fans who have loved the books for a long time and sort of had that built in, that’s kind of cool to see.”
Kristin’s Most Memorable Interviews
“I actually had an interview with Will Arnett once where he made me laugh so hard that I legitimately ruptured a blood vessel in my nose and had to go and get it cauterized.” Kristin laughed. “I got a nosebleed in the middle of the interview.”
As far as her all-time favorite interview, Kristin revealed that nothing would ever top the first time she went to the set of Arrested Development.
“I laughed harder on that set than I ever have in my entire life. I cried off all my makeup, my nose was running, I was sweating. I mean, they destroyed me. It started with David Cross. Then, they all saw that I became a very easy target, and they went in for the kill. It wasn’t even interview footage. It was just me dying. I mean, they were so on top of their game,” Kristin said. “In the beginning when they hadn’t done a lot of press and it was all very new and exciting. I think they were excited to have someone on set that actually cared about the show because they didn’t get a lot of attention in the very beginning.”
And then there was Lost. Anyone that was involved in the Lost fandom would have loved the press opportunities that surrounded the show. With the series being filmed in Hawaii, it made set visits pretty incredible.
“I just loved “Lost”, I loved the “Lost” cast. Any time that I could go out to Hawaii and hang out on that set, it had such an authentic, beautiful… Just a real sort of magical, for lack of a better word, feel. Everybody got along really well, there were no attitudes, they were working in this gorgeous environment and they were just all really cool people who would tell you everything they weren’t supposed to say.” Kristin commented.
Advice for Aspiring TV Journalists
I’m certain I’m not the only writer that Kristin has inspired to pursue a career in this space. She didn’t even realize that this job was a possibility before she began, and neither did I really. So I had to ask about her words of wisdom and advice for others that want to follow in her footsteps.
“I think the key is always authenticity and that involves knowing what you’re talking about. If you want to become an expert in whatever beat it is that you choose, you have to really own it. You can’t fake it. I mean, there is so much transparency now with social media and how personalized everything has become. There’s no façade. There’s no reading lines that somebody else has fed you and trying to get away with it. Whether you’re going to be on camera or writing, which my job entails both, I certainly lean on people who, “Oh, I know you know a little bit more about the show than I do, so can I pick your brain?” I make sure that I have a deep understanding of things before I ever try to go about my job because there’s nothing worse and nothing that will immediately skewer you alive like trying to fake your way through an interview or fake your way through any sort of on-camera reporting.” Kristin answered.
The bottom line according to Kristin?
“You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about, especially if you’re going to have any sort of field of expertise. You can’t fake it. You’ve got to study up and own it and in that, you’ll get more confidence.” Kristin stated. “In that, you can become more authentic and present people with who you really are.”
Advice I couldn’t agree with more as I take my own journey through this industry. Be true to yourself, know your facts and be willing to work as hard as you have to – for as long as you have to.
A huge thank you to Kristin for her time in chatting with me! It was an honor to be able to learn more about her journey and also share her words of wisdom with our readers.
Be sure to keep up with Kristin online at the following links: