Jessi Cruickshank: The RD Interview

Known for her self-deprecating humour and interview style, Jessi Cruickshank became a household name as one of the original faces of MTV Canada. This season, she returns as host of CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person.”

Jessi Cruickshank, host of Canada's Smartest PersonPhoto: CBC

15 Minutes with Jessi Cruickshank

Reader’s Digest: What has surprised you as host of Canada’s Smartest Person?

Jessi Cruickshank: The people who have demonstrated the most well rounded intelligence are ones most people sadly don’t usually expect – a truck driver, a football player or a cheerleader. When I signed up for this show, I assumed that it would be physicists, astronauts and teachers. I’ve been really blown away by how smart Canadians are in all different fields.

How do you think you’d do if you were a contestant?

I’d try every challenge and it’d be embarrassing. But there are certain categories that I’m good at, like the social intelligence category. If I wasn’t, I’d probably be terrible at my job. And I’m good at the linguistic category – I was an English major so at least I got my college money’s worth.

You divide your time between Toronto and Los Angeles. What do you miss the most about Canada when you’re over there?

I feel more and more proud to be Canadian, and I’m more vocal about that. But I really miss the sense of national pride. Look at the Raptors, and the way our country came together [last season] in a way that only Canada can do. And when it comes to the Olympics, we’re not China or the U.S. We don’t have hundreds of thousands of athletes. But we do have these incredible outliers who’ve worked their whole lives to get where they are, and we root for them and hold them on the pedestals that they deserve to be on. It’s just such a unifying thing to feel that Canadian pride.

You’re also the co-host of CBC’s new series, The Goods. Do you think daytime television will be a learning process for you?

I learn every single day in my job. I know when I have a great interview, a terrible interview and when I wear or say something stupid. I think one good thing is that a Canadian audience has grown up with me. People know me, and know my flaws and imperfections. They know that I’m not that glossy. I make mistakes and I can be real. And I’m doing this new daytime show, which is obviously going to be a huge learning curve as well.

How would you convince people who haven’t seen Canada’s Smartest Person to start watching it?

The show is not trivia. We’re not testing book smarts. It’s not Jeopardy or a quiz show. It really is a fun, gigantic, live television event. Anything can happen every single episode. You see people that you’ll root for that are from your hometown or who do the same thing you do. As a viewer, you can’t help but get behind that.

Canada’s Smartest Person returns for its third season on Sundays at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT), beginning on Nov. 13.