Section: Inside Interview
Author: Emily Sheerin | More from this author >>>
FASHION.IE'S EMILY SHEERIN CHATS TO FM104 PRESENTER SEAN MUNSANJE
He’s interviewed everyone from Katy Perry to Colin Firth! This week fashion.ie’s Emily Sheerin turned the tables on FM104 presenter and man about town, Sean Munsanje, and found out how he got up close and personal with Meryl Streeps legs, what 90’s look he won’t be reviving and why he’s torn between Ireland and France for his biggest gig yet!
Sean, your career is going from strength to strength, you’re regularly spotted on red carpets interviewing some of the biggest names in showbiz for your entertainment show ‘The Juice’ on FM104, how did your career begin? When I finished school I went to college and studied IT. Once I graduated I worked for IBM and Compaq but it really just wasn’t for me. I had done drama growing up and I always wanted to do TV presenting, radio presenting or certainly something like it. When I was 23 I decided to go back to and do media studies in college and I absolutely loved it! I guess because I was a ‘mature student’ I took college more seriously the second time round and I wasn’t just partying all the time. During college I applied for everything I could to try and get some experience. RTE gave me a slot on TTV (Now Two Tube), which was brilliant. I did that for a few years as well as working on the movie show on Spin 103.8, which was amazing experience and great fun. When I finished college I sent my CV into FM104, weirdly the day before I sent it in the movie correspondent quit, so I guess for me it really was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
While working at Spin I became friends with a girl called Sarina (Sarina Bellissimo is currently presenting Plan B on Spin 103.8) and together we decided to pitch a movie show to Channel 6 (now 3e). We did that for a year before the channel ended after being bought over by TV3, naturally I was disappointed but thrilled to have gained more experience in TV. Once the show ended I decided to start applying for TV jobs but by that stage the recession had started and TV jobs were hard to come by. Then about four months later ‘Total Xposure’ came up. I went back and forth in my head “will I apply, wont I apply”, I really didn’t know what to do. By then I had been working for awhile, I had done a three year degree, a yearlong TV programme and about two years at FM104. I had put four or five years into my career and I was worried that if I went on the show and they edited it badly it could be a disaster! I toyed with the idea for ages and eventually decided not to do it but when I called my mum to tell her I wasn’t going to apply she suggested I put in an application and then make the decision if I was offered a spot on the show. When I got the call to say they wanted me to take part I was in France, I was still really unsure but decided to go for it. At the time I was thinking, hopefully I’ll get about half way through the series and it will be good exposure which might lead to some other work but, as history had it I ended up winning the series.
I started on a 3 month contract with Xposé which then they renewed it for another 3 months. During that time I won the Favourite Newcomer at the TV Now Awards and Entertainment.ie’s Favourite Xposé Presenter, so I was delighted. The experience was so hectic and I learned so much, but it was nonstop! There wasn’t a point where I was at home thinking ‘wow this is amazing’ it was literally go, go, go. After the initial 6 months TV3 renewed my contract for another 6 months because it was going so well and then, unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough money and of course it was last in, first out. At that point I was at the stage where I felt like I had learned so much and I really felt thrilled that I had managed to get so much experience from the job.
While doing Xposé I had kept up my movie slot on FM104. A few months after Xposé had finished the girl who worked on ‘The Juice' , which is the show I always wanted when I worked on FM104, decided to leave the entertainment industry and so I expressed my interest and was offered the job. I have to say I absolutely love it. ‘The Juice’ gives me the best of both worlds, I get to decide what interviews I’m doing, I get to do music, movies, fashion and all these things that I love in one place. So I do count my lucky stars all the time, and I’m so grateful to FM104 they really have been so good to me.
Sean with former Xposé collegues Glenda Gilson, Karen Koster, Aisling O'Loughlin and Lisa Cannon at the TV Now Awards
What have been some of the highlights of your career to date? Meryl Streep was my favourite interview, I absolutely love her. I interviewed her at the junket for Mamma Mia. I usually find that the type of film will reflect what the actor will be like in the interview and even though she is a very serious actor because of the style of the film she was so much fun. I was her last interview of the day so we left the interview room together. When we got outside her friend was waiting for her beside this photo booth that the hotel had set up. Her friend suggested to her that they go in and have their photo taken and the friend I was with decided we’d give it a go as well. So there we were standing in the queue for this photo booth behind Meryl Streep! As you’re going in to the booth you’re given loads of props, things like a feather boa and a hat. While we were waiting for our turn all we could see were Meryl’s legs sticking out of the curtains, she was having a ball and came out of the booth in stitches. She seemed like such fun! Sometimes people that you love turn out to be a disappointment but she was amazing.
Shakira was another favourite; she was my first big interview for Xposé. At that stage I had always done movies so I was very used to interviewing movie stars and so interviewing a singer was new for me, and although it’s essentially the same, I was nervous. She ended up being hilarious. She was talking about stretching and she accidentally said ‘sex’ and she went scarlet! The two of us could not stop laughing. I didn’t want to embarrass her so I decided to move on to something else quickly and when she tried to answer the next question she just cracked up. It took her about a minute and a half to recover but it was hilarious! I was thrilled because it turned out to be a great interview.
Leonardo di Caprio was also amazing. He is so good looking. I had never really thought he was handsome until I met him in person but he has such great charisma. I’ve generally found the bigger the star the nicer they are, which always nice!
Who is the most fashionable star you have interviewed? I’m obsessed with Tom Ford, and when I interviewed Colin Firth for ‘A Single Man’ (Tom Fords film), Tom Ford had made a whole wardrobe for him. The suit Colin was wearing for the junket was amazing. The interview was during the winter and the suit was tweed, it was incredible. Colin is so classy and he really pulled it off. He told me that he and Tom became really good friends while the making of the film, so I’d imagine he got to keep the wardrobe!
How would you describe your own style? I’m quite easy going generally, unless I’m going to an event. I like to be comfortable and fun, to a point. People usually expect me to be a bit fun. For example, I always said I wanted a Burberry Mac, but when I bought one, I bought it in sky blue. I love outlets so when I was in Barcelona I went to this outlet on the outskirts of the city and spotted the mac. It was reduced from something ridiculous like 1590 to 150euro. So it was 90% off! Obviously it was reduced because it was sky blue, but I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was the nicest Mac I’ve ever seen! I was thrilled!
So would you consider yourself a bargain hunter? I am a bargain hunter, very much so! There is no better feeling that getting a good bargain. When I was younger I used to be the kind of bargain hunter that would go into TK Maxx and buy something, and think ‘this is amazing’ and then I’d get it home and put it on and realise its two sizes too big for me. I used to just look at stuff and think it’s amazing and then buy it, where as now I’ve learned that it has to suit you, and it has to be your style rather than just something you think is cool on a rack! So just because it’s a bargain doesn’t mean it’s a right for you. But in saying that, there is nothing better than getting something that totally suits you for a bargain. That’s just the ultimate! Say for example at Christmas, if I’m going to get clothes from my other half, I’d prefer to go into the sales on Stephen’s Day and fight our way through the crowds.
Would you be elbowing other shoppers out of the way to nab yourself a bargain? Well I’m not quite that bad, but it’s funny men’s shopping has changed a lot in the past few years. If you arrive at the sales half an hour or so after the shops have opened you’ll see guys there with their lists who know exactly what they want, so you’ve got to get in there early to get the bargains!
Do you consider yourself a high street or designer kind of guy? I was talking to Alexandra Burke recently and I asked her the exact same question and she said, I’m both! I totally agree. I can’t afford to be full time high end, and I don’t think I’d want to be because there are so many cool things on the high street. Designers don’t produce huge ranges of clothes, so for example if there is a nautical trend they might have a few pieces, where as if you go into River Island or Topman, and you want nautical shoes, a nautical belt, nautical everything, there it is! I think on the high street you have more choice about you how you want to incorporate the trend into your wardrobe. I think even if I was a billionaire I’d still like to mix and match. I do believe in the classic investment pieces though, I don’t buy them as much as I used to, but who does? For example these jeans I’m wearing now are D&G, and I bought them for the final of Total Xposure. That was three years ago and they’re still my favourite pair of jeans. Having said that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good investment piece, like my Burberry trench coat, it was an investment piece, and it wasn’t cheap but it was relatively cheap!
Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams or do you have a few keys pieces that you like to mix and match? When I worked on Xposé I did get a lot of clothes. My other half is constantly giving out, we have three bedrooms in our house and two bedrooms are wardrobes! I have to say though; most of the clothes are high street!
So when you’re shopping on the high street where do you like to shop? I love Topman and River Island. Zara is amazing, especially if you want something that looks designer. Their pieces are very well tailored, almost like something you’d see in Prada. I especially love Zara for nights out; the look is always really classy. Debenhams is also brilliant. I really like the fact that they have such a huge range of clothes. I love H&M for the summer because I love colour. They always have great colour injections and I love any excuse to wear something fun. Plus H&M is always so reasonable so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on things that are in fashion right now but may not be trendy a few weeks later!
You mentioned Tom Ford is one of your favourite designers, what other designer labels do you like when you’re looking for investment pieces? I love D&G jeans. I think D&G suits me because it’s quite a relaxed label and luckily I’m not in the kind of job where I have to wear a suit every day. I’d hate that! I love to wear a suit to dress up but not every day. I find the diffusion lines tend to suit my style because I get to wear more casual pieces in my day to day life. I like different places for different things. I have a calf skin Prada bag that is my pride and joy; I got it for my birthday about three years ago and the older it gets the better it looks. I love it because it’s so timeless, I know I’ll have it in 10 years and it will still be amazing.
Do you think that style is important in the industry that you work in? I do, I think it’s important to look good, firstly because I’m representing FM104 but also because I’m representing myself, which I take pride in. I have a pair of brogues that I often wear to interviews and I can’t count the amount of celebrities who have complimented me on them, which is always nice! A lot of the time the junkets that I go to are in high end hotels so I like to make an effort so I don’t look completely out of place!
Do you enjoy shopping? I love shopping but I have less time for it these days. If I’m in London for the day working I’ll often have some spare time after an interview before my flight home. When that happens I head straight to Knightsbridge. I always want to know what is in fashion in Harrods or Harvey Nichols because every store has a different buyer so each store is different. I love wandering around and taking it all in, even if I’m not looking for something specific or have no money to shop! Most of it is ridiculous though, I saw a Tom Ford dressing gown for £2500 once, who can afford that? But I love to see the trends done in a very high end way. I really do love shopping, I do it a lot less than I used to because Chris won’t let me buy anything new until I get rid of some old stuff because I have so many clothes!
Are you a fan of shopping online? I shop online for Chris; he loves American labels like American Eagle. I buy them online because we don’t have them here. I also really like Littlewoods. I buy Aussiebum underwear online too because they have a bigger selection! I do worry about shopping online though in terms of the size and fit, I know you can send it back but sometimes that can be a bit of an ordeal. I’d say I’m about 90% real life shopping and 10% online. I think I will have to get more into though because there is so much variety. Having said that it can be a bit dangerous because it’s so easy to spend, and I always think sure I’m paying for postage and packaging anyway so I may as well order more!
You’ve just won the lotto, where are you going first and what are you going to buy? Oooh! I’d go to London first to see what’s in style in Harrods. Then I’d have to pick up something from Tom Ford. After that I’d go to the high street and buy loads of stuff in Topman and Zara. The next stop would be Paris where I’d get a full set of luggage in Louis Vuitton, and then off to Italy because all the big designers are Italian! I’d go straight to Dolce and Gabanna and get a whole wardrobe for the season. After all that I’d take my partner Chris to America and get him all the stuff he likes in Ralph Lauren and American Eagle, that way we’d get a whole trip around the world too! Maybe then I’d pick up a £2500 Tom Ford dressing gown! No, I couldn’t ever do that, even if I had just won the lotto!
What are your ‘go-to’ pieces in your wardrobe? Jeans are a huge part of my wardrobe. If I’m going out, or if I’m going to a premier or something I would usually go for a pair of trousers from Zara. But definitely jeans are my wardrobe staple, they usually form the basis of my outfit and I work from there.
Tell us about your biggest fashion disaster? Hair is definitely my biggest fashion disaster; I had a flat top hair cut like Will Smith when I was a teenager. It was the 90’s and I had an oversized green jumper which said ‘CK’ on it in white and I thought I was so cool. I also had corn rows which were a mistake; it was so sore getting it done. I think I was getting carried away with R Kelly at the time!
Which celebrity's wardrobe would you like to raid? Oooh Ryan Gosling! Definitely Ryan Gosling! Or Maybe Brad Pitt his style is quite cool too.
You recently got engaged to your partner Chris Doyle, congratulations, have you started making plans for your special day? We haven’t made any definite plans yet, at the moment we are debating between having the wedding in Ireland or abroad. All our friends want us to have it away and we have checked it out as an option, mainly because it would be nice to be able to enjoy the sunshine! My parents have a place in the south of France, we go there every year and it’s gorgeous, so we’re thinking maybe the south of France. I’m going over at the end of the month to have a look at a couple of venues. We’ve also looked here in Ireland and we’ve seen a few places we like here, so we should have made our final decision by June, and then hopefully we’ll get married in maybe May or June of next year.
When it comes to the big day in terms of your style will you go for something quite traditional or something a little quirky? If it’s here in Ireland, I’ll go for something a bit unique. If we go for black tie I’ll get something made by Louis Copeland, because I always get clothes from there for things like VIP Style Awards or other big formal events. It’s great because everything is made to measure so you can choose everything from the inner lining, to where the pockets are, you can even have you initials put on it or the date or something cool to make it memorable. If it’s in France, I don’t know! It’s difficult; I’d probably go for a light dusty pink tux jacket with big lapels, kind of Tom Ford style, with black tux trousers. I don’t know what I’d do about the bow tie, and then because you’re away it would be nice to have a white corsage, I’m getting carried away here! This is my idea at the moment; I’ll probably change my mind ten times before then. If it was just for the outfit I’d probably book France today, I’d love to wear something like that, but we’ll have to see! If we go for Ireland it will definitely have to be a more classic style but if it’s in France it will have a twist!
Have you got any style advice for the readers of fashion.ie? I don’t think they need style advice from me! If I had to offer one piece of advice it’s the old classic, wear what suits you! I think I’ve learned throughout my own life not to buy things because it’s a trend, or it looks good on the rack. If you buy something, buy it because you feel good in it and it suits you and your shape. So that’s the best bit of advice id give, suit yourself!
What does the future hold for Sean? The future holds big wedding plans which have taken over at the minute and, of course, FM104. ‘The Juice’ is amazing, I’m only doing it just under a year and I love it. It still feels very fresh and exciting. I love the fact that every day brings something different, a different place, someone different to interview and that’s what I really love about this job. So weddings and FM104!
Our guess is that Sean Munsanje's star will only continue to rise in 2012! We wish him and his partner Chris Doyle every happiness for their wedding next year. You can catch Sean presenting FM104's 'The Juice' on Sunday's from 10am - 12pm.
Author: Emily Sheerin | More from this author >>>