Ross Mathews: The Host With The Most
“I’ve never thought of myself as leading man material,” says TV personality and newly minted talk show host Ross Mathews. “But I love to be proven wrong!”
It isn’t his impressive resume which makes it so easy to prove him wrong. Sure, he’s held his own next to queens like RuPaul and Chelsea Handler (as a regular panelist and guest host of Chelsea Lately.) He’s “interned” for Jay Leno and sat next to Barbara Walters as one of the few men who have guest-hosted The View. He’s been a red carpet guru, best-selling author and even interviewed Michelle Obama. (“I thought, ‘Things are shifting a bit,’” Mathews remembers. “‘Ross the Intern would’ve never gotten this interview— but Ross Mathews got it.’ That’s pretty cool.”)
And it isn’t even his new E! talk show, Hello Ross (Friday’s at 10 p.m.), which solidifies his status as Leading Man. It’s his wit, charm and, most importantly, visibility. Mathews wanted to host the type of show he wished existed when he was a child, a show about people and pop culture coming together. And he’s doing so as a successful television personality who had no qualms about being open and out as a correspondent on The Tonight Show as early as 2001.
“I remember growing up in my farm town thinking, ‘What is life going to be like for me? What does it mean to be a grown up, happy, successful out person?’” Mathews says. “I didn’t know the answer because that wasn’t represented. It’s exciting now, thinking about all the examples kids have: [life] can be like Rosie, Ellen, Anderson Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, or even that guy from E! with the voice. It can be like that.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the voice, head to the Internet and give his a listen. It’s an unforgettable, excited and high-pitched trademark that Mathews owns proudly, and has carried with him from Leno to Lately. “I can make my voice go as low as possible,” he says after a sadly untranslatable-into-print “Shut up, Rose!” Bea Arthur impersonation. “And it’s still eight octaves too high.”
Mathews views himself as an oddity within the LGBT community, and he’s perfectly fine by it. “I’ve got this high-pitched voice, I don’t have the perfect body,” he says. “But, I hope I represent not only [that] our community should be accepted everywhere—but that within our community, we should also celebrate our differences.”
It’s his belief that embracing our differences helps us thrive. He doesn’t liken his success to taking the typical path (as in an actual internship, not audition) and would encourage others to avoid the road more-travelled. “It’s like rocks on a beach,” Mathews adds. “[There are] waves that make everyone look like every other rock. The people that break through, they look like their own kind of rock. [You can’t] let anyone try to reshape you to look and sound or be like everyone else.”
And he hasn’t, nor does he want our community to. Mathews believes it’s time to talk to our neighbors and families, to expose ourselves (figuratively speaking, of course) to those around us, because, “meeting us, knowing us, caring about and loving us—that’s what shifts minds.”
“What everyone needs to know,” he adds, “is that there are families out there for you. Big support groups of people that love you. Count me among them. I want you to know how important you are, and how, though your situation may be unique to you, it’s not a unique experience—all of us who have come out have gone through it…There are communities for you and people that love you.”
On behalf of our community: hello, Ross. Let’s never say goodbye.