For 25 years we've been fascinated with Amanda de Cadenet, the living embodiment of various archetypes of modern fame. From the pouty 14-year-old ‘Wild Child’ who bunked off (exclusive, boarding) school to go clubbing, to the gobby 18-year-old presenter on “yoof TV” experiment The Word flirting outrageously with the likes of River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, to the professional rock star WAG (first to Duran Duran’s John Taylor and then to The Strokes’ Nick Valensi).
Then, two years ago, an older, and somewhat wiser Amanda emerged and at 41 she launched her newest self as a touchy-feely talk show host to the stars which is now beginning to be talked about in ‘Oprah-esque’ terms.
Co-produced with her friend Demi Moore, The Conversation is built in the mould of soul searching, confessional TV. In the introduction she sets forth the show's modus operandi; "to talk the universal language of women" and in that spirit Amanda has gotten some of the planet biggest female stars to open up to her. Lady Gaga vents about “the white devil” (cocaine), Gwyneth Paltrow talks in graphic detail about her father’s ambulance trip to the hospital as he was dying ("he kept on throwing up blood in a white latex glove") and Jane Fonda revealed some TMI information about septuagenarian sex (“I am quite flexible,” reveals the 75-year-old). The UK version which launches next month sees the likes of Rita Ora, Cailtin Moran and Rosie Huntingdon-Whitley get the de Cadenet treatment.
In the age of ferocious PRs and agents, it's a minor miracle that Amanda gets these women to do so much “real talk”. So, how the hell does she do it? “If there was a formula I’d bottle it,” she laughs, in her Sloaney Mid-Atlantic drawl (a result of growing up in the UK and moving to LA when she was 20). “I think the celebrities pick up on the fact that I’m interested in the reality of who they are instead of what the public see.”
The idea for the show came when she had hit a personal and professional low. “After I had my twins I got really bad post-partum depression," she says, "and I remember trying to Google other women’s stories about it and couldn’t find anything. I was like, ‘why is no one talking about this stuff?’”
For the presenter, the search for similar voices came at the same time that she was questioning where her career had gone.
“I was reading The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts that said that women stop working to have kids and then find it difficult to come back into the workplace. I didn’t want that to be my story.” To that end Amanda set about creating the show which she sees as a forum for discussing real women’s issues. “There was no show out there discussing what it’s like to be a woman today, talking about the realities of pregnancy, marriage, money, kids, career, self-esteem…”
Still, she’s hesitant to chat about her own past. “I think it’s really boring,” she says noticeably tensing up when asked about her wild child beginnings. “I just feel like ‘just get over it’. Let’s start talking about something new!”
When pressed she adds firmly; “I left England, the place that would only let me be 15 years old. In America I got to grown up. If I’d stayed here I may have had an arrested development moment.”
feels like it's an appropriate moment to bring up a question she asks the guests on ; what advice they would she give her teenage self? “I’d say everything you’re going to experience in your life is going to benefit you in your life even if you feel like it’s bad. Also I’d say," she adds, briefly drifting back into a very voice, "keep your knickers on, love!”
The Conversation is on Lifetime (Sky 156 Virgin 242) from November 4th and on www.theconversation.tv
To hear Amanda talk at an exclusive Grazia event on October 31 go to http://www.apple.com/uk/retail/regentstreet/ to register online. It’s free to attend and registration only takes a minute.