Born in Muskegon, Michigan, a port city just across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, media trailblazer and Daytime Emmy Gold Circle honoree Tanya Hart, says she has always had a sincere curiosity about things.
She attributes her effectiveness as an interviewer to her innate curiosity about people and their lives. For her more than 50-year career in television, Hart was slated to receive the Gold Circle at the Daytime Emmy Awards on June 16, 2023. However, the ceremony was postponed due to the writers and actors strikes.
Hart, who has acted as talent, producer, and entertainment executive declares that she is in full support of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) unions.
She believes we are at a point in entertainment where actors and writers will not be valued unless they maintain their stand.
“We have such a big disparity with the studios who really don’t care at this point, because they know they are going to make their money, and it really comes down to the consumer,” said Hart.
“I was thinking about the boycotts from the civil rights movement, which has become the template for every movement since. If the unions could get consumers to block their subscriptions from streamers, that would make them really think about it.”
Hart would say her career spawned from the civil rights movement. On April 4, 1968, while she was a student at Michigan State University, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. The incident moved Hart, and two friends, Bernard Carver and Larry Redd, to go to the campus’s radio station, WKAR, to get on the air.
“The three of us went in and said, ‘You need to put us on the air,’” remembered Hart. “They kind of looked at us and said, ‘Okay.’ We went on the air that evening on April 4, 1968, and the rest was as they say history.”
Hart would go on to pioneer and host a show called “Taking Care of Business” on WKAR. She was studying biological science at the time. She recalls the man who would eventually become her husband, Dr. Phillip Hart, telling her to consider changing her major to communications.
Hart states she changed her major to communications, and she applied for a training program through the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company. She trained in various areas of media, including marketing and promotion.
“I was what they called a ‘twofer,’ I was a female, and I was Black. I had experience, which was unique at that time,” imparted Hart. She worked at WBZ in Boston on a show called, “Coming Together.”
Hart says then-owner of BET Bob Johnson picked up the show for the basic cable channel. It was one of the first shows Johnson acquired for the network. Then according to Hart, on September 17, 1990, Johnson hired Hart to start BET’s west coast operation.
“He said, ‘We really need to pull this west coast operation together, and I can’t think of anybody better to do it than you,’” recollected Hart.
Hart pronounces one of her greatest accomplishments while with BET as her 1992 interview with rapper/actor Tupac Shakur. Their conversation can still be seen in the documentary series “Dear Mama: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur” on FX.
In addition to her time at BET, Hart also had a stint with Disney’s Hollywood Records as an executive. However, Hart is probably best known for her career in entertainment as a celebrity gossip journalist.
In 1994, Hart hosted E! Entertainment’s “Gossip Show.” The program aired for six years in 140 countries all around the world. She would eventually be joined by co-host, television personality Downtown Julie Brown. Hart has also “dished tea” on daytime television tabloid show, “The Geraldo Rivera Show.”
“If you have celebrities, you’re going to have people interested in them. They want to know what they’re doing in their lives, and it’s mainly because people want to have a little of their lives like a celebrity… They want to mimic a little bit of something in that celebrity’s life,” completed Hart.
Today, Hart still covers celebrity gossip and news on “Hollywood Live with Tanya Hart.” It broadcasts daily on the American Urban Radio Network (AURN).
Keith L. Underwood is the host of the KBLA Talk 1580 entertainment radio show, “Black In The Green Room.” A former entertainment publicist, he currently develops platforms for performers, creatives, and Hollywood execs to shine and inspire. IG: @umaworldwide.