If it’s hard to believe that three full years have passed since Giuliana Rancic stepped down from her coanchor spot on E! News, that’s because her face has still been everywhere. A consistent red-carpet fixture for the better part of two decades, she was fully present for a smattering of viral moments that dominated this year’s awards showsand her Instagram has remained plenty active. Plus, she’s been out promoting other projects, including her eponymously named prosecco and a “judgement free” parenting app with her husband, Bill, called Pear.
So, in a way, it seems almost like she hit pause on E! News more so than walking away. But make no mistake: On September 4 Rancic returned to her reign on the nightly show, alongside cohost Jason Kennedy. And she’s got a plan for how to dig back in, at a time when Hollywood is still going through a major reckoning.
“Certainly, in the past year or so, [we’re] having more important conversations, more meaningful conversations, on the red carpet,” Rancic tells Glamour. It’s a marked change from when she began as a correspondent on the network, back in the early aughts. “There was a long period of time in the beginning, really until recently, where viewers wanted to hear about the light things: the beauty, the fashion, the projects. We would do a little bit of everything.”
«I think we’ve gotten away from keeping the focus on the people we’re talking to.»
But in her view, what’s really changed now—more so than talking about equal pay and inclusion riders on the step-and-repeat—is the fact that celebrity reporters have gotten away from talking to celebrities about, well, the celebrities themselves. Whereas once the conversation was largely focused on the show, the project, or elements of their personal lives, so much of the dialogue now rests in cultural commentary, which isn’t, innately, a bad thing. But while some are more than happy to take up the role of advocate or social critic; others aren’t quite as cut out for it. Or just don’t care to do it.
And so Rancic has a philosophy that, right now, sounds at once intuitive and a little bit rogue: “Letting someone just talk about what they want to talk about, and not making them feel like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to get asked to talk about something that has nothing to do with me,’” she explains. “I want celebrities to feel like, when we do an interview, that it’s about them. I think we’ve gotten away from keeping the focus on the people we’re talking to.”
If you think this sounds simplistic, it is. You don’t have to tell Rancic, either; she’s aware of that fact. But she also thinks the time has come for us to get back to the basics. It’s a theory she cooked up while she was a consumer, instead of a creator, of celebrity news over the past few years, based on a recurring observation: “It’s like a lot of other voices [are] jumping into conversations that don’t really have anything to do with them, and they’re not necessarily voluntarily doing that.”
It’s also among the reasons Rancic decided to come back to making the news. “That’s honestly one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot,” she adds, “how to have more direct, honest conversations with people, about things that apply to them. I think if we do a lot of that, it’s a nice way to start getting back on track.”
Rancic isn’t the only person who’s wondered whether or not we’re asking too much of red-carpet conversations that, at the end of the day, are about entertainment: Award shows and interviews don’t have to become our thunderdome for hashing out systemic issues. But it’s also not that Rancic thinks we should stick to fluff—not by a long shot. At the end of the day, like a lot of things, it’s all about balance.
«The way you handle these interviews has a lot to do with who you are as a person.»
“You can be serious, and also have fun, and a minute later say something that moves someone. That’s how I am in my life,” Rancic says. “You just have to be able to read the moment. I think a lot of people—even the people who are using the [red carpet] platform for so much good, and putting up these meaningful messages—know that there needs to be that balance.”
In summary, and maybe to say the least: “It’s a really interesting time,” Rancic says with a laugh. “Everyone’s got to be more prepared on the red carpet, but honestly, my key is to be in the moment. It really comes down to: The way you handle these interviews has a lot to do with who you are as a person.”
Elizabeth Kiefer is a New York–based writer and regular glamour.com contributor.