#WhatDrivesYou: Barbara Milner
May 22, 2014
1. What inspired you to become a media maven?
As a child I was very intrigued by the typewriter. Specifically the visual of the tortured writer working feverishly to get thought to paper only to dramatically tear a partially written sheet out and start all over again. I asked Santa for a typewriter at age five and my grandpa sent my letter to the Premier of Ontario’s office. His assistant delivered a vintage Underwood on Christmas Eve.
Years later, as a high school student I volunteered at the University of Toronto’s campus community radio station. I eventually landed my own radio show where I interviewed countless musicians and artists. A defining moment was interviewing The Ramones. It was my first brush with fame and all I could think about was if I had enough tape and battery power to record the entire discussion, which went on for well over an hour. I remember walking away from that experience feeling grateful that I was not star-struck and that we had a fun, genuine conversation. This is when I realized I wanted to have more conversations with interesting people and hopefully get paid along the way.
2. What’s most rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is creating a story that is informing, engaging and entertaining. There’s noting more rewarding than seeing an idea come to life.
3. What has been your favourite show, to date, on Steven & Chris?
One of my favourite segments on Steven & Chris was called the “Fabulist.” It was a celebrity driven segment that aimed to give viewers insight into a celebrity’s personality and lifestyle, rather than promote their movie, tv show, new album etc. One of my most memorable moments was being in a 5’ by 6’ dressing room with P!nk as she gobbled down poodle fondant topped cupcakes while telling me about her Duncan Hines wedding cake. She then proceeded to smash a strategically placed piñata (hanging in the corner room) with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Seven minutes of sheer fun and chaos translated into a very endearing and entertaining segment for Steven & Chris.
4. Career highlight or breakthrough moment?
I was on assignment in New York for Discovery’s Daily Planet. It was 6am at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. I met an inventor that had just flown in on the red-eye from Ireland. Together we uncrated his life-sized robot. It was one of those moments that I will never forget, the moment where you smile and realize you never know where life will take you and anything truly is possible.
5. Where do you look for inspiration?
I am inspired by conversation, music, photography and travel. I love magazines. I tear pages and keep them not even knowing why – if it speaks to me it gets torn out. Since I’ve become a mom, I am constantly inspired and rendered speechless by my son’s imagination – “my monster truck is in the dragon’s house mommy.” Imagination is a great source of inspiration.
6. Finish this sentence, if I weren't a TV producer, I would be……
If I weren’t a TV producer I would be an environmental scientist. I would also love to be the person who names lipstick colours. I guess you can say I’m a true Libra.
7. If you could take anyone, past or present, out for a quick drink and ask them only one question, what would it be and why?
Kurt Cobain: “Soooooo, did she do it?”
8. What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you first started working in television/journalism?
Every idea has a time and place. Don’t get discouraged when your pitch is not approved, put it back in your ideas file, revisit it, evolve it and work harder to present it in a way that will make it irresistible.
9. What interest or hobby are you most passionate about?
Design. I am really passionate about great design and decorating. There are a lot of parallels between the principals of design and the art of storytelling using a visual medium. It’s interesting to see how these common elements drive the creation of furniture, materials, spaces and structures.
10. How do you always looked so put together, managing a high pressure career, social life and a 2 year old son?
I am flattered you think so! I chalk this all up to my mother’s very strict rules growing up. She raised me to NEVER leave the house a) without my bed made and b) looking like you just rolled out of bed. She has also told me time and time again that “a little bit of a heel goes a long way.” These days my two year old son helps me pick out my heels and often test drives them himself.
11. Where's your favourite place to eat in the city?
My favourite place to eat in the city is Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant, also known as “The Nose” in Leslieville. The food is consistently delicious, the vibe is very authentic and they always play great music.
12. Favourite quote:
“give them what they never knew they wanted” - Diana Vreeland