In Live! Contest, Local Reporter Finds Her Element

Things didn’t pan out for Markette Smith in her run to co-host Live! with Kelly Ripa this Tuesday. She lost last week to three other contestants who received more online votes across the country.

Smith said she knew something was off on Wednesday when one of the show’s producers, all of which she felt she’d developed a good rapport with, wouldn’t look her in the eye while talking to her during rehearsal. “I knew something was wrong,” Smith told FBDC in a phone interview. “I’m a journalist, so I know when people aren’t telling the whole truth. It’s just a gut feeling.” She said she called her husband to tell him she wasn’t feeling confident that she had received enough votes online from the day before and that producers didn’t spend as much time with her that morning as they had with the other three contestants.

Her shot at appearing on Live! began earlier this summer with Smith, along with thousands of other hopefuls, submitting a video of herself “singing and dancing.” She used her background in web producing to mobilize friends and family in a social media campaign to grab the attention of the show’s producers. “I’m so glad that I have a social media background,” she said, “because nobody told me– nobody said ‘Okay Markette, get on social media because you’re gonna need to get votes.’ It was second nature for me.”

Smith used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Internet memes (a friend superimposed Smith’s face onto the body of Rosie the Riveter) and something called GetGlue, a type of FourSquare but rather than “checking in” at actual places, users check in with TV shows, movies and music. She saw her Twitter followers double from 300 to 600 and the “likes” on her Facebook fan page tripled.

In early July, Smith, who currently works as a freelance TV entertainment reporter, was selected as a top 25 finalist. “Once I made it to the top 25, I was in it to win it,” she said. “I was very serious about winning.” From there, she reached out to Fresh FM for support. ABC7 also reported on Smith and the contest. Soon enough, Smith reached the top five and began the on-air, in-studio portion of the show’s contest in New York. “Not to sound overconfident,” but she said all her hard work to make it that far paid off.

Last Monday, as the only female in the final five, Smith took to the stage to make a live pitch as to why she should win. It worked. “That day I got the votes,” she said “I felt very comfortable on stage. Speaking to the studio audience. Looking right at that camera. I felt in my element.” She moved on to the top four.

During her time in New York, Smith got to meet Ripa, whom Smith described as a “true professional.” Smith watched Ripa record promos for the show. “She did them all in one take,” she said. “And she told me I was one of her husband’s favorites.”

But on the second day in-studio, things didn’t go so hot. “It was fine,” Smith said, sounding less than enthused at the memory. Each contestant had to answer 60 seconds worth of rapid-fire questions. “The stakes were getting higher and higher every day,” she said. Smith drew a question asking who her favorite person was. She answered, with a stutter, that it was “God.” Then, realizing God isn’t actually a person, she named her husband.

Due to a lack of votes, Smith was eliminated the next day. Still, she said she learned a lot from the experience. “If you believe you can do something,” she said, “or you want to push yourself and challenge yourself to do something different, you can do that. It’ll happen. It’ll happen!”

For now, Smith will continue working as a red carpet correspondent for AMC Movie News. Her next step is move to New York City or Los Angeles to continue pursuing her career as a TV features reporter. But there’s more to it than just being a TV journalist. “I want to connect with my audience, engage them and story-tell on multiple platforms,” she said. “I don’t even know if that job exists yet.”