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10 questions for Keri Murphy

by: COURTESY OF KERI MURPHY, Portland’s Keri Murphy recently signed to be part of E! Entertainment Television's “That Morning Show.”

Leaving her native Portland for the bright lights and competitive nature of Hollywood hasn't been the easiest transition for Keri Murphy.

But things are looking up for the 34-year-old Murphy, a 1993 Wilson High School graduate. She recently signed to be part of E! Entertainment Television's 'That Morning Show.' She'll be one of the hosts for the unique, in-show commercial segments. Her first airing will be Friday, Oct. 2.

Murphy was host for the one season of the Golf Channel's 'Highway 18' reality show and also worked with a client on the MTV show 'Geek to Chic.' She also did auto dealer commercials. More notably, Murphy owned her own modeling agency in Portland, but she eventually had to close the merged Wilhelmina-MTG and declare bankruptcy when the economy went sour. She moved to Los Angeles in early 2009 to look for television spokesperson and hosting work.

The Tribune spoke with Murphy about her breakthrough in Los Angeles, life in the Hollywood fast lane and other topics:

Tribune: You moved to L.A. to chase a lifelong dream?

Murphy: I had closed my business, definitely one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life, because I had put everything I had and owned into it. I was lucky enough to get a great agent down here, who signed me on the spot, and I knew it was what I was supposed to be doing. Things before (with 'Highway 18' and 'Geek to Chic') were happening without me even trying, and I thought, 'It was a childhood dream I let go of a long time ago, and this was the next step.' So, I sold my house, packed my stuff and moved. But, I left my family and friends and everything - I had built my whole life (in Portland).

Tribune: You had to move, right?

Murphy: For my strength, television hosting, there wasn't much opportunity in Portland. I knew I wasn't getting any younger. I e-mailed an agency in Seattle, and the agent got back to me and said, 'We're not the right market for you,' but his friend was Jeff Probst, the 'Survivor' host. Through him, I met an agent, and it opened up doors to possibility.

Tribune: It's a pretty competitive environment in L.A.?

Murphy: Without a doubt, (show biz) is the Olympics here. Because of that, I am thankful I'm not fresh out of high school; there are pros and cons to waiting. But I'd been in the industry since age 11, and I felt doors opening. It's still difficult being here, especially starting over, establishing yourself in a new environment. It's definitely been a whole new experience, I had to re-acclimate. I'd been booking somewhat steady work, but nothing great, until the morning show.

Tribune: How many auditions have you attended?

Murphy: Definitely between 20 and 30. I also have a commercial agent, and (auditions) haven't been for just hosting. They say maybe one in 10 auditions, if you're lucky (you'll get hired). I've also booked promotional work, informercials. But for what I want to do, which is host a great show on a national network, those jobs are hard to come by. There have been people doing it forever, like Nancy O'Dell (on 'Access Hollywood' and other shows). … I'd love to have Samantha Harris' job (on 'Dancing with the Stars').

Tribune: Tell us about 'That Morning Show' (6 to 9 a.m., E!, seven days a week).

Murphy: I do live segments through IBC production company, and do a segment in an interactive way to bring in products and sponsors and involve the audience (called 'Chaseit'). We encourage the TV audience to call in and reserve gift cards. When you reserve one, you get an automatic cash back bonus. No one's done it before - it'll be interesting to see what happens. My call time is 1 a.m., and we shoot live for the East Coast and West Coast. There are four segments every hour. It's live, so that's good experience for me, and you do some improv. You want to make it fun and engaging for the audience to watch. Hopefully that's what I bring to it.

Tribune: So, with an 18-month contract, this is a breakthrough for you?

Murphy: Anytime you're working with a network that has the national following that E! does, it's great exposure. It's a baby step. There were hundreds - no exaggeration - who auditioned. I had three auditions. I definitely feel like I can compete now, which is a good feeling. Hopefully it leads to other things. It also allows me to pursue motivational speaking - especially after having to close my business, and listening to other people going through things, I'll be able to speak more to not being afraid of failure and taking risks.

Tribune: Has everything been resolved with your talent agency's bankruptcy?

Murphy: For the most part, but I don't wanna talk about that.

Tribune: You're still wanting to do some consulting?

Murphy: I'm taking an acting class, also, but I do love to teach, and there are a lot of people here who are lost . . . So many people think, 'Even if I make connections, how do you get past that?' It takes tenacity, and it really is who you know … it's the old adage, preparation meets opportunity. Whenever I can do consulting to help people, I do.

Tribune: What happened with 'Highway 18?' Are you still involved in golf?

Murphy: I did 'Highway 18' for one season; at the same time, (parent company) Comcast was really looking to change the direction of the Golf Channel. They just felt the show actually did fairly well, but they were looking for the Golf Channel to be more serious golf. It was kinda fluffy . . . I still keep in touch with people, and I'm still working with Sweet Spot Golf.

Tribune: What's it like living in Los Angeles?

Murphy: I live just outside West Hollywood. Of course, I complain about the traffic, what else do we do here? I love the sun, and what I really love about L.A. is the energy. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and there's no place like here. Everybody's involved in the business. The downside is everybody's involved in the business, people are here trying so hard to be somebody. With that comes some pretension . . . I'm auditioning, and it's humbling, challenging, frustrating . . . I just want to work at 1,000 different things like I did in Portland.