|Breakfast with Dawn Chubai|
|Written by Liberty Craig|
The many transformations of Breakfast Television’s Dawn Chubai.
Up with the sun as her name would suggest, Dawn Chubai is poised to inform and entertain us each morning before we’ve even brushed our teeth. The sunny co-host of City TV’s Breakfast Television, Dawn Chubai is also familiar to Vancouverites as a jazz vocalist and an occasional actor, not to mention a curvaceous blond. With professionally done makeup and fabulous clothing supplied by Wear Else for television and Milena Grotrian for glamorous events, we may wonder that Dawn battles the same image issues as most women. But in an industry full of size-two women, and after spending part of her life a little heavier, Dawn knows that we often have trouble perceiving ourselves as we really are. With this in mind, she recently embarked upon a health challenge with a focus on truly sustainable change rather than weight loss. Fresh Vancouver spoke with Dawn about her many different personas: Breakfast Television co-host, sultry jazz singer, actor, wife, Edmonton native, Vancouver girl – and the transformations each role requires.
Fresh Vancouver (FV): As co-host of Breakfast Television, what do you love most about your job?
Dawn: It’s one of those jobs where you get to laugh every day and you get to learn something every day. Almost every day starts fresh, with whatever happened yesterday put behind us. Every day presents its own successes and its own challenges.
FV: What are the drawbacks of a daily morning show?
Dawn: The only thing that can be difficult is getting up at four o’clock in the morning, especially in the winter. It puts me on a very different schedule from my husband, but we try not to let it affect us too much. I have a very supportive husband. He believes in me sometimes more than I believe in myself, and he’s 100 percent on my side.
FV: Biggest challenges of your role?
Dawn: You can’t get complacent or it translates on air. You have to always be in the moment, but also thinking ahead. There’s a planned spontaneity, but some things, like technical glitches, are beyond your control. Sometimes the mistakes end up being funnier and more interesting than the planned version!
FV: Do you still get a case of the nerves before each show?
Dawn: Not usually, but some guests require a lot more preparation. If we have a big guest, I hope the interview will go well. It’s really important to listen, and when you have producers talking in your ear and a hosting aspect of the show to be aware of at the same time, there can be a bit of pressure. I would think that even someone like Barbara Walters might feel nervous with certain guests!
FV: You are also an award-winning jazz vocalist...
Dawn: Yes, in 1999, I won the Alberta Recording Industry Association award for Best Jazz Artist. What people may not realize is that I was actually a singer before I got into television. I sing quite a bit with Dal Richards now, who’s about to release a new CD called Magically Yours. I have two tracks on it, so I’m pretty excited!
FV: What about jazz do you love?
Dawn: I love the concept of jazz. My style is a combination of the great female jazz vocalists like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and someone like Cassandra Wilson, who has an alternative, darker style. There’s a spontaneity to jazz, similar to the spontaneous elements of my television job. With the right moment, the right band, the right audience, sometimes you can hit it out of the park. Other times, not so much. It’s the same as with the show. If you don’t take chances, you’re just going to be the same as everyone else.
FV: You have also done some work as an actor. Was acting something you always wanted to do?
Dawn: Acting is one other element of performance. I’m a full-blooded Leo and I was meant for the stage. People assume that because of the job I’m in, it’s automatic that I get these reporter roles. But I have to audition like everybody else, and all the other news anchors in town are there too!
FV: How did you get involved in the weight loss challenge you publicly undertook on Breakfast Television?
Dawn: It all started when we had Julia Havey, author of The Vice Busting Diet, as a guest on the show. She’d lost 130 pounds and was very inspiring. I’m not your typical size-two TV personality, and I’ve also been at least 30 pounds bigger. I know what the average woman goes through, struggling with weight. Julia and I really connected, so we decided to do a six-month transformation project with PGX, which is a fibre supplement that helps you feel full and regulates blood sugar.
FV: What is your ultimate goal on the PGX program?
Dawn: For me it’s not about how much weight I can lose, it’s about body composition. When I started this, my body fat percentage was 36 percent, which is considered obese. My BMI was fine and my weight was normal – on the higher end, but normal. Nobody’s saying I’m obese! I could probably lose 20 pounds, but what am I prepared to do to make that happen? Well, I’m not prepared to not go to social events and have the odd glass of wine. I’m not prepared to not have dinner with my husband. I still need to live my life. The goal was to change my body composition, to be healthier in general, and for it to be sustainable.
FV: What do you eat in a day on this diet?
Dawn: It’s about calories. Right now I’m on 1500 calories a day, and when I first started it was 1200, to initiate weight loss. The biggest focus is regulating my blood sugar. Never let yourself get too full and never let yourself get too hungry. You have to eat!
FV: What is the exercise component of the program?
Dawn: I’ve been working a bit with personal trainer Tommy Europe, as well as doing bar method, and I’ve just started doing Ugi Fit, which I love! I’m no stranger to the gym; I’ve been working out on and off for years. But finding something sustainable is key. And I find with the early start to my work day I get really tired and have trouble fitting in my workout. I just remind myself that there’s a mom out there with four kids who’s really tired, too, and she still manages to fit it in. My excuses aren’t more valid than anyone else’s!
FV: Are you noticing a difference?
Dawn: I’ve noticed a difference in my face, and I can see it in my hips. Because I was bigger at one point there’s a body image thing that happens, where you never see yourself the way other people see you. It’s part of being a woman, unfortunately. In my personal experience, the PGX program works. I have nothing negative to say about it – it’s safe, it’s all natural and it’s stimulant-free.
FV: All your different roles – BT host, jazz musician, actor – require that you stand centre stage. Do you feel pressure to maintain a certain appearance for these roles?
Dawn: I felt a lot more pressure when I first started in television. I’m turning 39 this summer, but I’m happy and I have a great life, and that really translates in your skin, in how you walk... As you get older you get more confident as well. I do have to worry about my hair and clothes on television.
FV: What are your best skincare secrets?
Dawn: There was a time in my life when I was not happy, and my skin was one big blemish – I couldn’t even smile because it was so painful. The minute I eliminated that unhappiness, it disappeared. If you’re not doing the right things for yourself, your body will tell you. In the last two years I’ve really focussed on making sure I moisturize. I love Dermalogica’s anti-oxidant mist and microfoliant. I also need a really good cleanser and eye makeup remover, since we wear so much makeup on television. I try to go for a facial every two months to get all that makeup out of my pores – the Dermalogica facials are the best I’ve ever had!
FV: Do you always get your makeup done?
Dawn: I often do my own – even for the show if I’m on location. But if I’m getting into a fancy gown I usually have it done. It just completes the whole look. You can learn so much by having your makeup professionally done once or twice, and any woman can go to a makeup counter to have it done.
FV: How do you go from your daytime Breakfast Television look to your sultry late night jazz singer look?
Dawn: For morning television we present a morning look – not much makeup. But I totally glam myself up for the stage. I typically do my hair in hot rollers – I know it’s old fashioned, but I love big hair! I use heavy eyeliner, dark eye shadows; neutral colours, but heavy. I love red lipstick. I love sequins, too – but you can’t beat a great black dress. It’s always flattering!
FV: With so much going on in your busy life, how do you relax at the end of a hectic week?
Dawn: I sit at home, read, cook, hang out on my balcony. I walk on the seawall. Chilling out for me means no makeup, hair in a ponytail, doing nothing. I’d like to do more yoga. I can be a sensitive person and when I was doing yoga, I found it easier to deal with things, to not get upset or sad as easily.
FV: What can we expect next for Dawn Chubai?
Dawn: I’ve always been a “go with the flow” kind of girl. It keeps me laid back, but maybe doesn’t make me go after things enough. But I’m very content with where I am right now.