Diana Madison is a founder of Shandy Media as well as the executive producer and host of the syndicated television news magazine show “Hollyscoop.” Diana began her career twelve years ago, producing and hosting a local TV show in Los Angeles at age 18. She later interned for “E! News” and worked for “Entertainment Tonight” / “The Insider” after earning her bachelor's degree from UC Santa Barbara. Her strong connections in Hollywood have helped give Shandy Media its strong presence on the many red carpets in music—the AMAs, CMAs, VMAs, Grammys, the list goes on. She has quickly made a name for herself as Hollywood’s “it” interviewer and has chatted with some of the biggest names in the industry. In the next five years, she hopes to take her online talk show, “The Lowdown with Diana Madison,” to TV and continue growing her empire.
1) How has your life experience made you the leader in music you are today?
I have an eye and an ear for great talent, and I've met and interviewed some of the biggest names in music over the last nine years. In 2006, I did my very first red carpet interview for “Entertainment Tonight” at Usher’s MTV VMA after-party in Miami. I was introduced to a new artist named Chris Brown. I think it was his very first red carpet interview, as well as mine. Within the next year, Chris had one single out and was slowly building his name in the music industry. I remember approaching him at a party for the AMAs and telling him he was going to be a big name, and that he was one talented guy. No matter what people think of Chris Brown in regards to his personal life, you can’t deny he is a talented artist. I also remember working at “ET” with an artist named Michael Bublé, who was not a household name in 2004. It was at this point in my career that I realized just how powerful the media was. I literally watched Michael go from being this funny, charismatic singer from Canada to “the new Frank Sinatra.” That was the term the producers at “ET” coined for him. Today, I feature a lot of YouTube/ Internet artists on my talk show, “The Lowdown,” where I give talented artists a platform to promote their music when they wouldn’t be able to anywhere else. Throughout the years, I have also broken exclusive music scoop interviewing big artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Kelly Rowland, Avril Lavigne, and Rihanna. My videos have been viewed by millions of people around the world.
2) Who was your childhood music inspiration?
I grew up listening to a wide range of music. Being Armenian, I listened to Armenian folk music with my parents. I also grew up listening to French music by Édith Piaf and Armenian singer Charles Aznavour. I recall being forced to attend Charles Aznavour concerts as a young girl. I didn’t appreciate it then, but looking back I realize how amazing those experiences were. At school I listened to pop music. If my childhood had a soundtrack it would have songs by Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake. They've inspired me throughout junior high, high school, and even college.
3) Throwback to your favorite '90s song...
There are a lot of '90s throwbacks, but one to pinpoint is Ricky Martin’s “Livin' La Vida Loca.” I was obsessed with this song, not to mention Ricky, whom I thought I was going to marry. One time I ditched school and stood in line at Tower Records on Sunset Blvd for over 10 hours trying to meet him with my girlfriends. 10 years later I'm at the Grammys, and I score an interview with Ricky Martin. I was so ecstatic, I couldn’t believe I was interviewing my childhood crush. I told Ricky that I truly thought I was going to marry him, and he smiled and gave me a big hug and kiss. This was a very special and surreal moment for me!
4) Do you play any musical instruments?
My mother forced me to play piano as a child, and I studied classical music for over 10 years. Although I was terrible at it, it did build a strong admiration for classical music. Today I relax and meditate to some of my favorites by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. The only song I can play from memory is “Für Elise” by Beethoven.
5) How has music changed your life?
Music has changed my life in many ways. I have playlists for everything. When I need inspiration during my drive to work, I listen to “Billionaire” by Bruno Mars, “Imma Be” by The Black Eyed Peas, and “Stronger” by Kanye West. When I'm in lazy mode at the gym, I play Shakira, David Guetta, and J.Lo to get me sweating. When I'm getting ready to go out, I play Beyoncé to let my inner Sasha Fierce out! When I'm down and need some music to cheer me up, I go to EDM artists like Avicii and Calvin Harris. When I feel like I am on top of the world, I turn up some Jay Z beats! And when I need to meditate, I opt for classical music or Zen music.
6) What is your most memorable/embarrassing fan encounter or stage moment?
It was in 2000 when I was a senior in high school. I attended KIIS FM’s Wango Tango with my girlfriends and thought it would be a great idea to sneak backstage and pretend to be a reporter. I took one of my girlfriends with me and talked my way through most of the security. I told them I was a reporter and that I was late for my interviews. It worked! Surprisingly, I made my way to the VIP area where I saw P Diddy and J.Lo. I was starstruck! However, instead of enjoying VIP, I decided to really push the boundaries. I asked where the red carpet was since I was a reporter and needed an immediate interview with J.Lo. That’s when security realized I wasn't a reporter and threw me out of the venue. My girlfriend and I spent another 45 minutes trying to figure out how we could go back inside to our seats for the rest of the show.
7) What was the song you heard with your first kiss?
Unfortunately I don’t remember the song during my first kiss, but the song with my husband at our wedding was “Sway” by Michael Bublé. This is our song and every time we hear it it brings good memories...a smile and a kiss.
8) How are you changing music this day and age?
Music is my everything! It’s the first thing I hear when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I hear when I go to sleep. I am very dependent on music as it inspires me and is my happy medicine.
9) If you were an 'N Sync/Spice Girl member, who would it be?
Growing up, I was obsessed with 'N Sync and the Spice Girls. I went to every single 'N Sync concert in Los Angeles, and I loved Justin Timberlake. I always loved Posh Spice and Scary Spice from the Spice Girls. It’s interesting now, since I've interviewed Justin, Victoria and Mel B throughout the years.
10) Who do you think are the most influential figures in music (pop/alternative, etc)?
I think Beyoncé and Rihanna are hands-down the most influential artists in music. Beyoncé’s secret self-titled album changed the way promotions, marketing, and sales are done now. Rihanna has broken records for the most number ones on the charts. These two ladies are so powerful, creative, talented, and innovated. Rihanna and Beyoncé are legends in the making and I do believe that we will be hearing good music from them for decades to come.