When Derrial Christon graduated from Northmont High School in 1991, his background experience included writing for the school paper, performing in school plays, and being the school’s first Black homecoming king. He knew then that he wanted to end up in the entertainment realm, especially serving Black celebrities.
At Ohio State University, where he majored in accounting and marketing, he wrote for the school paper, The Lantern, hosted a college campus show, and took on a summer internship with VIBE Magazine, spending his summers in New York covering special events, working with the editorial team, and doing marketing.
When he graduated from OSU in ‘97, he was offered a full-time job at VIBE, and moved to New York.
“I was working in the heart of entertainment, moving my way up,” he says. “I became marketing director but wanted to be in front of the camera in entertainment. They let me do the interviews for the VIBE Awards, and I interviewed Mariah Carey, who told me to pursue it as a career. She encouraged me, and I was doing a lot more celebrity interviews when a job came along in Los Angeles.
“I moved to LA and took the ‘Becoming a Host’ studio class for two years.
“It was unbelievable – I met producers, interviewers and made a lot of connections, and went to interviews. Kevin Frazier, the lead anchor on ET, told me I was the new generation and hired me as a host for three shows.”
As he built his social media, he learned that networks were looking for new content. “I’d worked in entertainment for eight years, had good connections between LA and NY, so suggested building networks and shows featuring Blacks, so we built what became ‘Black Hollywood Live,’ a digital platform where I interviewed up and coming actors, producers, discovering the next new famous stars.
“Jay Ellis was on and seemed insecure, now he stars next to Tom Cruise on ‘Top Gun’ – I was his first interview. Last month, I did the Golden Globe Awards and ran into him at an after-party; it felt good to know that I’d help start his career.
“I also interviewed Tiffany Haddish on ‘Black Hollywood Live’ when she was new in the game, just doing comedy tours. Now, she won’t stop for interviews on many outlets, but, on the red carpet, she’ll stop for an interview with me.”
BET hired him to host the BET Experience, a program for fans and actors to meet each other during the BET Awards. Then on the REELZ channels, he did a series of entertainment documentaries — one on famous entertainers who went broke, then on US Weekly’s Celebrity View on celebrities who were having fights. “I was reporter and correspondent, still doing BET and Black Hollywood LIVE.
“Then, COVID hit, but I was hired as a Zoom correspondent for ‘Entertainment Tonight Live.’” As COVID waned, he was the lead host on “Destination LA” on CBS, and a contributor/writer for Uptown Magazine, where he wrote a column on celebrity wealth.
Now, it’s red-carpet season, and Christon’s in high gear. “I hosted the Golden Globes, was part of the red-carpet team for the Grammys, I’ll do the NAACP and SAG Awards at the end of February, and the Independent Spirit Awards and Oscars in March.” Two days after the Grammys, he was on a panel about amplifying Black excellence in entertainment.
Some of his interview highlights have been with Leo DiCaprio, Oprah and Morgan Freeman.
“New opportunities are coming in ‘23,” he said, “I’ve produced two seasons of ‘Ready to Love’ on OWN (Oprah’s channel), this season in Miami — and I want to keep moving forward, hoping someday to become an anchor on a show like CNN, ‘Good Morning America’ or the ‘Today’ show.”
Christon still finds time to return to the Dayton area several times a year to visit his mother, Marva Christon, other family members and friends.
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