Nick Cannon Talks Babies and America’s Got Talent
By: Judith Wallace
Nick Cannon returns as host of NBC’s hit summer alternative series, America’s Got Talent, season 6. Premier Guide Media had a chance to chat with Nick about the show and the twins, the newest addition to his family.
How are you coping with the twins?
Nick Cannon: They’re six weeks. I think they recognize who I am now. I get excited when they look at me and I see some recognition in their eyes. Well, the beauty of it all is I never slept before anyway, so now it’s just about time management. I rarely even see a bed, so now when I go home it’s just spending all the time with my family and then back out to work again. So, I kind of sleep more on airplanes and in the back of cars and stuff more than actually in the house.
Now that you are a dad, will you ever consider getting your children in the industry when they grow up?
Nick Cannon: I’m not really a fan of encouraging my kids to be entertainers. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, I mean I think it’s beautiful when a young person is striving for their dreams, and if my children do want to do that I’ll be as fully supportive as possible. But, I just think there’s so many other things in the world to become and to strive for. I mean, I think a lot of times we value the entertainment industry way too much – it’s all great. It’s amazing, but I want my children to be heart surgeons or a college professor.
You are often away from home with your varied projects. How hard is it having to be away from the twins?
Nick Cannon: I’ve been on the road and the Vegas shows and everything, and it’s quite difficult. It’s probably one of the hardest things I had to do and I didn’t even really think about how difficult that was going to be, because I my life has always been kind of on the road and going. And my wife is extremely understanding when it comes to that, so I didn’t really think that it would be any harder than it was before until it actually happens. Like, all I want to do is be at home with my kids, but you know you’ve got get out there and work, so it’s definitely a difficult task.
Do Mariah and the kids spend time with you when you are away?
Nick Cannon: This season she hasn’t got a chance to yet because she’s at home taking care of our children. But hopefully, I mean she has before in the past and, hopefully in the future she’ll come by again.
What are you generally like at home with the family?
Nick Cannon: I’m a normal guy, so at home I’m just a normal guy with my family. Right now, it’s all about my children. There is nothing else. It’s either work or it’s all about family. So, I mean you kind of get who I am from everything that I do. I’m not a celebrity or a star, I’m just a person who works in the entertainment industry.
Who controls the remote in your house?
Nick Cannon: My wife actually controls most of the DVR, so I end up watching a lot of Nurse Jackie and we both like Real Time with Bill Maher and shows of that nature. A lot of Discovery Channel and of course America’s Got Talent. I make my wife watch them over and over again.
What is your favorite tv program or show?
Nick Cannon: SpongeBob SquarePants.
What is so special about this show that has you coming back as host each year?
Nick Cannon: America’s Got Talent is the best summer job anyone could ever ask for. I mean, I have so much fun on this show just watching people strive for their dreams and have a good time at it. When you think about competition shows, a lot of them take themselves so seriously. They’re always talking about the stakes and it could change our life. This show is more just about having fun. I mean, of course there’s $1 million prize at the end, but I think we really tap into the family fun of it and being able to have programming where you can just forget about all the stresses of the world and just sit down and enjoy some fun.
Do you enjoy doing the show?
Nick Cannon: Yeah, I mean I really truly love it. Even the days are extremely long, but they go by so fast because it’s just nothing but a good time. Just seeing people entertain. You’re in this great theater and people are getting through and accomplishing their goals. It’s amazing.
How are the talents this season?
Nick Cannon: Every year we say, “The show’s getting better and better,” but I really believe that this is the best year because I think people are inspired by the previous years. I think this year people are more creative, they’re more open-minded. When you saw acts like Fighting Gravity last year, it did so well. And then, you see someone even do better than that this year and so early on with like iLuminate, and just taking these different approaches and these different ideas, it’s – the talent is tremendous this year. The youth culture has been infused in this show in such a way and everything from the ratings to the chatter about the show it kind of proves it.
Any favorite acts so far this season?
Nick Cannon: There’s quite a few. There’s the Shabaz Boys are definitely adorable. Right now it’s so hard to say. I really like them. There’s definitely some ones coming up that I’m excited about.
Are you sympathetic towards the performers during tryouts?
Nick Cannon: As a fellow performer, I just know the intensity, especially when this is their shot at stardom, so the level of intensity and the stakes are so high that I just empathize with them knowing that being in that position, whether it’s on stage doing standup or whether it’s an audition or music. Like, I know when you’ve got all the chips on the table that everything you want to go out there and give everything and give your best performance. So, I just try to encourage them and try to let them know that it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go as planned, because in their mind this is the end, this is their shot.
How close are you with the contestants on and off camera?
Nick Cannon: The show is pretty true to real life. I meet a lot of the contestants outside on the line as they’re getting ready to come into the theater. The ones that look interesting or the ones that we have time to speak to, I speak to. I meet every single contestant on the side of the stage and usually I have about five minutes to kind of interview and talk to each and every person before they go out there, so it’s pretty brief beforehand. I kind of am introduced to them as the audience is introduced to them. And then as they go forward throughout the competition, obviously I get to know them a little bit better.
What advice would you offer to these young talents?
Nick Cannon: Have a good time. Enjoy yourself. Don’t think of this as anything else but a fun performance. When those young people are on the side of the stage I ask them all these questions, but the last question I always ask them is, are you ready to have a good time. Then, if you can remind young people of that because I mean there’s so much other pressure that’s coming from outside influences and just even themselves being right there on the side of the stage. I have to remind them that they’re young and you’re entertaining because you love it, not because you’re trying to win $1 million, not because your parents are going to be more proud of you, or anything of that. You’re doing this because this is what you love.
How important is the America’s Got Talent platform for young people?
Nick Cannon: It takes ordinary people with extraordinary talent and gives them opportunity that they normally wouldn’t have because they might be from Minneapolis or they live in Seattle and can’t get to Hollywood or New York, and it kind of evens the playing field when it comes to entertainment. When you think about our You Tube show it doesn’t matter where you are in America, it’s a platform for you to showcase what you have. And it’s not just, “Oh, can you be the next Idol singer or can you be the greatest dancer?” It’s like everyone has a skillset and we want to give the opportunity for everyone to display it.
With so many things going on in your life, will you ever slow down or take a break?
Nick Cannon: No. If anything, I’m going to have to speed up. I’ve got mouths to feed now. I’ve got to put my kids through college, so that gives me a whole different drive. It gives me a different type of momentum to want to do more and be the best provider and father that I can possibly be.
You are a very good role model for young people. How do you maintain that in an industry where thing can get ugly so fast?
Nick Cannon: Honestly, I always say I don’t really like the term role model because I feel like a role is something that you play, like a play, and I take roles in movies. I try to be as real as possible, so I tend to call myself a real model, and when the chips are down and things do get tough you’ve just got to handle it like any other real human being would. And sometimes everybody’s not always going to agree with how you handle it, but at the end of the day they have to respect you for being a real human.
The tension between Piers and Howie, is it real?
Nick Cannon: Well, I think it’s heightened reality. I definitely think that there is tension between Piers and Howie, but it’s in a way where they obviously remain professional. I think Howie was a little offended. In his first season – Piers just would always call him annoying and cut him off and act like he didn’t know what he was talking about. So, he vowed that this year he was going to make Piers an honest man and be as annoying to him as possible to try to break him. So I think it’s just a little competition between the two, but at the end of the day it’s all love.
Do you take sides?
Nick Cannon: Piers and I have always had our own little beef, so I actually enjoy it quite a bit when Howie is going at him.
How do you stay looking fit and well styled?
Nick Cannon: I just try to make a statement, whatever I put on, whether it’s sweats or whether it’s a colorful blazer, it’s just trying to make a statement and just paying attention to detail more than anything. I’ve always kind of been that way, even since a young man.