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Alicia Quarles on Asking Celebs That Difficult Question

ESC, On the Real Header Updated

ESC, On the Real Header Updated

Every month E! News correspondent Alicia Quarles shares her latest musings on Hollywood and what it’s like in front of—and behind—the lens.

Whether it’s during a red carpet interview (which can consist of one question) or a press junket (which can be compared to speed dating), breaking news can be tough.

Enter: the hard-hitting questions. 

Do I enjoy asking someone about their DUI, new or failed relationship or any drama caught on tape? Of course not—I’m not heartless. But both celebs and I have a job to do: They want to tell their stories, and I need to be fair when I retell that story. Here’s how I do it. 

MORE: Alicia gets real about body image issues

Have compassion: Just because they are rich or famous doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask the question and let people tell their story.

Be unapologetic: Let the star tell his or her story, but never apologize for asking the questions. We all signed up for this life. Fame comes along with it. We are all human; we rise, fall and do it again. I will never apologize for asking a fair question, but I will be the first to apologize if I screw up.

MORE: Alicia Quarles on how Hollywood tried to dumb her down

Know when to stop: True story: One star told me directly before our interview, “Do not ask me about the affair rumors with so and so.” My response: “Do not tell me what to ask. You can answer however you see fit.” Of course, I asked about it in a few of different ways. This particular star was smart enough to give me a non-answer two different ways without seeming rude on camera. Onward.

Be prepared: Go into the interview with integrity and leave with integrity. If you are there to discuss a project, do your research, ask intelligent questions and then get to those headline-making questions you need to ask at the end of your interview. If you’ve done your job well, you will earn the trust of your interviewee, and they will answer just about anything. Also, cardinal rule: NEVER let publicists control your interview.

Bottom line: Famous people are not zoo animals. They are people: fallible, dynamic, charming, sometimes unreasonable but most of the time they are there to entertain us. I’m never afraid (Who am I kidding? I’m often scared) to ask THAT question. But I do it all with compassion, with a purpose and will admit my wrongs when need be. That is how you earn respect and build a career…plus break news.

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