We had the good fortune of connecting with Viviana Vigil and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Viviana, how do you think about risk?

Risks are terrifying, taking that big leap is one of the scariest things to do. Yet, as I look back on my life, all my growth and success came from taking risks. I recognize that, for me, risks are a necessary part of my own evolution.

After I graduated college, I stepped out in the world and became a children’s social worker for LA County. It was a very tough job and one of the most crucial requirements was to always be assessing risk in every circumstances. In that position decisions were life and death in some cases. It taught me that it’s not only about taking risks, you’ve got to keep you eyes open and really make decisions based on as much information as you can gather. An informed risk is the safest risk to take.

While the threshold for taking risks in the child welfare system is narrow, in our own personal lives we can choose to be a little more adventurous. Take inventory: am I prepared? Do I need a mentor? What is my plan B? What can I do to prepare to pivot paths and continue the momentum? These are questions I ask myself, but these questions will be different for everyone. Some people like to jump in both feet with their eyes closed, and that works for them. I’ve found that with some planning combined with hard work, optimism and flexibility I can thrive in the unknown.

The decision to take the biggest risks in my life happened while I was brushing my teeth.

While working as a social worker my sister and I took notice of a contest that a local entertainment show was having. It was an open call to ‘Be a VJ’ for the first bilingual network, ‘LATV’. I had prepared the application and hyped myself up to go, but when I was brushing my teeth, doubt slipped in.– “you don’t know anything about TV” “you’re going to look stupid” “you don’t belong there”.

But as a rinsed my mouth, my thoughts countered the discouragement– “what do I have to lose? I’m a fan of the show, it would be fun to just go check it out and see the set and just go have a good time”.

So, I did. That choice has lead me on a 20 year journey as a TV host and Producer in entertainment- music, lifestyle, food, social justice and politics.

These things couldn’t be more different, but my life has always been like that. Social worker by day, tv host at night. Its never made sense to others, but I’m still here doing things people said I couldn’t do. Back then, after 5 years of doing both jobs I had to take another risk– to quit my stable (every 1st and 15th, paycheck) and throw myself into the tv hosting world 100%. By then I had the tools and the knowledge to make an informed decision to jump in both feet, with my eyes open.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?                       

I currently host a syndicated luxury Real Estate show called ‘Million Dollar House Hunters’ and I work as a real estate agent as well, at the end of the day I love being on the go and getting to know new people.

I produce and host an online show called ‘Contextualize This’ where we ask academics to break down some of the toughest issues society deals with today and I also do political commentary for various news outlets.
As a TV host and producer for 20 years, I’ve conducted thousands of interviews, created content of all sorts; from entertainment, lifestyle, real estate, food, politics, and social justice.

I like to know a little bit about a lot, which comes in handy when you interview someone. Interviews are one of my favorite mediums. Really diving into an intimate discussion and getting to know who that person is, its one of my favorite things to do. Over the years I have done over 3500 interviews, and that’s a modest number, it more likely double that. Its still one of my favorite things to do today. A highlight has been when I made Mel Brooks laugh and, on another occasion, made Eddie Murphy laugh. If I can make someone laugh, it makes my day. But making a comic legend laugh? That made my lifetime.

I got where I am today because I learned that I’m the only one who can be me. Sounds corny, but that allows me to stop the comparing and competitiveness that can lead to a jealous ego. When I’m auditioning or applying for a gig, they’re either going to like my flavor or they’re not. We’re not for everyone, but when we find our groove, we shine and no one can steal that from you. I rely on the same perspective when I work in the Real Estate world as well.

My journey has be full of obstacles, disappointment, success and exhilaration. In no way has it been easy, but its always been worth it. I’ve learned that I can get through anything.

I’m so grateful for every opportunity I’ve had, for every mentor and lifelong friend I have met along the way. Grateful that veering off the beaten path has lead me on a life that I never dreamed of. When you look back and connect the dots, you recognize that all of your traits have brought you to where you are, you never knew that the things you were criticized for (talking too much, watching hours of tv, having too many questions and curiosity, being too tall etc) would be the things that brought you recognition and success. I’ve always been quick witted and the queen of useless knowledge, but these ended up being some of the most useful traits in my career.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?                                                                                   

I’m a plant-based foodie. Some of my favorite spots are pop ups like Alchemy Organica for their vegan pozole and Xochitl Tacos for their famous hibiscus tacos. The best atmosphere is at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, try their drink, the Quinceañera, its a snow cone!

You also MUST visit a late night taco truck, there are some in every neighborhood (on every corner LOL) and most have veggie options. To get the real LA experience you must eat it on the hood or back bumper of your car.

If you’re in LA, you gotta go to the beach. Some people don’t realize that there are no private beaches allowed in California and all up and down PCH in Malibu there are gates allowing public access to the beach. The residents try to hide the access but if you head up there and look for the public access signs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at some amazing beach spots (word of warning there are no lifeguards or bathrooms).

Sunset at the beach or Griffith Observatory, I love Art Deco architecture and there is something magical about the observatory.

My favorite museum, LACMA is under construction, but when it was open they would have live music and you could picnic on Friday and Saturdays in the summer. Amazing.

LA is all about live music and one of the BEST venues is the Hollywood Bowl. I cannot think of a better way to spend an evening in Los Angeles. If you’re lucky enough to get box seats, you’re in for a real treat, but ever seat in the house is a good seat.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?                  

Professional there are so many people I would really credit for getting me started and helping me succeed in my career. First and foremost, my family who always celebrated who I am and gave me the work ethic I have today and my little sister who pushed me to go on my first audition. The executive producer on my first TV gig, Flavio Morales. He saw in me what I didn’t even know was there. And what’s more, he encouraged me to be 100% my authentic self on camera. My first manager, Dolores Cantu. She taught me the ropes of the business and like a mama bird, pushed me out of the nest encouraging me to take risks and put myself out there. I’d also like to thank every single Latina who was on camera before me, seeing myself in them let me know that a career in television was possible. SI SE PUEDE!

Instagram: @vivianavigil_

Twitter: @vivianavigil

Image Credits: Viviana Vigil

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