The Celebrity Interviewer With Zero Chill: Leta Powell Drake
This week, a clip of a woman named Leta Powell Drake interviewing celebrities in the '70s and '80s went viral on the strength of Drake's complete lack of fucks. Clad in tracksuits and painted with garish makeup, she doesn't so much ask celebrities questions as much as make statements like "You got to work with Richard Burton in The Tempest, and now he's dead," "You've done some brilliant pictures, you've done some stinkers," and "You don't consider yourself a great actor," for them to react to by shifting in their seats and pleading for help with their eyes.
So what's her story? How did she do it? How do you grow the balls to sit across from the likes of Tim Curry, turn to the camera, and say, "He looks evil in many ways"? Not even she seems to know -- and that's instructive. When asked what she thought people were reacting to in the video, she guessed that older people liked to see celebrities from back in their day. After she was informed that it was actually young people who loved her "matter-of-fact" attitude, she seemed confused. "I'm not matter-of-fact; I do my homework," she explained. "If I'm going to do an interview, I come in and look like I know what I'm talking about ... And maybe that was it. Confidence will take you a long way, you know, it really will."
When you look at the clip again, with that answer in mind, it's suddenly clear what she's doing. She's not asking questions, at least not straight away, because she needs her subject to know first, as was achingly necessary for a woman in her time as well as today, that she knows what's up. She's seen their movies. She's read their previous interviews. She's done their goddamn genealogy charts.
She's so concerned with that that she either doesn't notice or doesn't care when it makes them squirm. She was the host of a dinky morning news show in Nebraska -- clearly, those celebrities weren't expecting anything but the softest of balls. Instead, she blew their expectations out of the water, sometimes morbidly and often in loud prints. We should all channel our inner Leta Powell Drakes by waking up every morning, putting on our brightest lipstick, going out there, and confronting people about the void that awaits us all.
Top image: YouTube