Anyone who enjoys winding down their evenings by watching Xposé on Virgin media, will be familiar with the bubbly endearing presenter Cassie Stokes. Initially joining TV3 as a Promotions Assistant, she later appeared on-screen as the Twitter correspondent on Tonight with Vincent Browne, helping the experienced journalist figure out how to use the “Tweet machine” live on air.
She worked as a cyber reporter on the 3e programme FYI for three years until 2013. Then left Ireland and moved to Canada in 2013 to work as a co-host on Entertainment Tonight Canada. When a spot came available on Xposé to fill the shoes of Karen Koster and Aisling O’Loughlin while they went on maternity leave, Tv3 asked her to audition as a presenter acting as their cover in April 2016, she was then announced as a new presenter of Xposé and has been a solid fixture since on the show.
I chatted with the ever charming and contagiously optimistic Cassie, about her career to date, her most memorable experiences, women who inspire her and what advice she’d give anyone looking to fulfil a career in Tv presenting.
How did you get your start in the media industry?
I studied media in Ballyfermot college and started working as an assistant in TV3 while I was studying. I started in the programming/promotions department when a brilliant producer named Fintan McGuire was creating shows in house for the channel. I started presenting on a news show called FYI about 2 years after working as an assistant and voice over artist.
The progression with presenting on TV was natural, I basically said yes to every experience.
Is being on camera and in the public eye something you always saw yourself doing?
Not really, I love telling stories. I’m a story teller at heart. My job is telling stories, just in front of a camera lense or in front of people. I love the creative production side of television just as much as I love being on camera. I’m both a presenter and producer at heart. When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist, thankfully that changed because I’m afraid of everything that has tentacles in the water!!!
As a female member of a media industry predominantly with male presenters and hosts at the forefront, what challenges did you face getting your career off the ground? And what challenges do you still face?
I have to say I’ve never seen it as a male driven industry here in Ireland, maybe in other parts of the world but here in Ireland we have a massive amount of strong talented women in the media industry. And their voices are being heard louder and clearer now more so than ever before.
There are challenges in every industry, staying current, keeping people interested in what you have to say are the main ones for me.
. Of all the shows, events and concerts you’ve worked at, which has been the most memorable experience and why?
Probably the BAFTAS, I was reporting on the red carpet and I was also lucky enough to go along to the awards with Lancôme. The best part was I got lost when I was trying to find my taxi and ended up in the same room as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Orlando bloom who were waiting for their cars. I just pretended I was waiting for my car too, while staring them up and down. Angelina Jolie has a phone and a purse and she carries them herself… she is a real person!!!!
What advice would you offer young people aspiring to fulfil a career in broadcasting and presenting?
Just always keep an open mind. And learn from every challenge, watch or listen to yourself back. I still watch every show I do, I’m always learning. Be open to learning.
Keep working hard and say yes to opportunities, you never know who you’re going to meet and where one opportunity will lead you.
If you hadn’t pursued working in tv and presenting as a career what do you think you would have done?
Probably producing/directing. Something creative. I would like to think I could have gone all the way with marine biology but I’m sure my fear of things with multiple eyes that live in the deep dark sea would have got in the way of that at some point!
It is so important that women inspire and allow each other to grow together through mutual support. What women in Ireland, as well as Irish women abroad, do you most admire whom you feel inspire you today?
I love women and I’m inspired by women everyday. From my sister to my cousins and my aunts and my mom, I’m from a family of inspirational women.
In the industry I’ve met some incredible people who work hard and who seem to understand how to make time for their family and their happiness while working in high pressure environments, that to me is success.
I adore women who aren’t threatened by other women, and who lift them up, that to me is the sign of an amazing person.
A few names that come to mind and have been influential in my life are Glenda Gilson, Karen Koster, Marissa Carter, Debbie O’Donnell, Katherine Thomas.
Other women I admire from afar and have been lucky enough to speak to once or twice are Samantha Barry, editor in chief of Glamour in NY, Anne Marie Tomchak, editor of Mashable UK, Sinead Burke and Katie Taylor, two ladies who are making us very proud worldwide.
It is few and far between in terms of the women and men who are openly gay that work in TV and Radio in Ireland, how important was it for you to be open and did you face any challenges along the way?
I’m a female TV presenter who just so happens to be gay.
Being gay does not define me as a person or my career. I’m very proud of who I am, and I hope by being me maybe someone will relate and feel more comfortable with being who they are.
When I started my job on Xposé, I had only come out 3 years before. I felt that if I kept my sexuality a secret I was inadvertently saying it was wrong by hiding it. The only challenges I ever faced was the challenge in my own head, accepting who I was and moving forward. Sometimes we ourselves are our biggest critic.
What mantras/mindfulness do you use to cleanse the mind and focus on the job at hand?
Deep breaths are so helpful for me, I take time, even just 5 mins to breath and relax if I ever get nervous or stressed.
When I’m too stressed with work I always think, “what’s the worst that can happen?”, and it’s never that bad so when I’m ok with the worst case scenario it always helps put the situation into perspective.
I try not let my job stress me, I love it but nothing is worth getting too stressed over. I try enjoy every day and challenge myself with different tasks.
Speaking of mindfulness, how do you split your time between working with one of the biggest entertainment shows on Irish Tv and your downtime?
I don’t know if I’ve mastered this yet but I try to relax as much as I can when I have time off. I love my job and sometimes I do find it quite hard to switch off, but going to the gym also really helps me just focus on myself and being in the moment. Time with my family in the sun in my moms garden is also one of my favourite places to go and chill out.
What has been your proudest career moment to date? And what are your goals for 2019?
Proudest moment to date has to be my first VIP style awards, I’ve been watching those awards from afar for so many years and getting to co-host them with Karen and Glenda was pretty special! I’ve been watching Xposé since I first started working in Tv3, and to work on a program with them was pretty special.
What is your morning routine to get you through the working day?
Wake up, that’s usually the first thing I do! Then cleanse and moisturize (the skin nerd would be so proud) then pop the kettle on, shower, then make tea and porridge, eat and drink them and then get changed.
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin?
Host in Ranelagh, best food ever. Love the service there too. Belfry in Stoneybatter, great atmosphere great drinks and service and they always have different food trucks. Pi pizza on George’s street is delicious, service is brilliant and I love pizza so it’s ideal.
What are your favourite ways to keep fit?
Workout in the gym, it’s my “me time”. As much as I don’t want to go in when I arrive in the car park I always feel better after. Also love doing a boxing class every now and then.
What are your top three beauty essentials?
2 litres of Water, because that’s what every beauty guru says you should be drinking!
My Image vitamin C cleanser. Saves my skin every day. Thanks to the skin nerd.
Environ moisturizer, again, thanks to the skin nerd.
Favourite gadget and why?
My phone. How would I ever find my way around if I didn’t have my phone, how could I ever let anyone know I’m going to be late for dinner.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I wouldn’t say I’m an early bird, I’m an early-ish bird. I don’t stay up late, I go to bed pretty early and I don’t like sleeping in too late, but I still love staying in bed being warm.
Your greatest food pleasure?
Pizza. I love pizza, if you follow me on insta I will usually have at least two pizzas a week.
If you could tell your 16 year-old self anything, what would it be?
You’re going to fall in love with a woman when you’re 26. Don’t panic it’s totally cool and she’s amazing, you’ll have lots of fun and travel to NY loads together, BUT…you will break up… sorry to ruin it for you. You’ll be fine! Be open to new opportunities, adventures and meeting new people. Enjoy the journey, embrace the moments and laugh as much as you can with the people you love.
Can you share any exciting plans you have in the pipeline?
To work, smile and create memories.
Xposé is on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at 3.30pm – 4pm & repeated at 8pm – 8.30pm on Virgin Media Two.