Exclusive Interview with MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew All Stars: Road to the VMAs host Jason Dundas

image001Jason Dundas is one busy man! When he’s not working as a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, he’s hosting America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV. Dundas also adds fashion designer to his long resume with the successful launch of his active-line for men called Dundasfit.

Recently, I spoke with Jason who was fresh from his Dundasfit launch in Australia.

To find out what Jason is up to follow him on twitter at @jasondundas.

You can also go to his website at jasondundas.com and check out his active wear line at dundasfit.com.

Was being on TV something that you always wanted to do?

“To be honest, no. I was a university student when I was twenty years old in Sydney. I was studying graphic design, because I wanted to be a designer. It’s funny, now I design a fashion label, hence why I did that. I entered a contest on MTV Australia. It was a search for a VJ contest, and I didn’t enter it because I wanted to work on TV. I was actually a really shy kid. I entered the contest, because I wanted to be a designer at MTV. I wanted them to notice how good I was.

The entry process was to submit a video about your personality, so I cut together a really creative video. The video was so cool, that they offered me a position as a designer. For my first two years working at MTV in Australia I was a designer who designed the TRL corporate branding. In Australia, I designed the sets at TRL, and a whole lot of other stuff during the day whilst I was hosting the show.”

That is so cool. I didn’t know that. I was about to ask you about the audition process for MTV Australia. Can you explain to me what is that process like?

“It wasn’t really a standard audition. I basically had to make a two-minute video that expressed my personality and why I would be a good host on MTV. It was almost like an American Idol-type audition to be honest. All the other shows that I’ve ever done, like Dance Crew, I went in and I met executives. I read a script. That’s the standard audition process.”

That must have been cool though. How long did it take?

“I sent the video in. I heard about two weeks later. Then I had to go in and meet a bunch of people. They narrowed it down to five possibilities, before choosing me. The whole process probably took three weeks.”

You also work at Entertainment Tonight, and VH1. You’ve interviewed actors, actresses, musicians. Out of all the interviews that you’ve done, do you have a story that you can share with everyone that kind of stands out for you?

“Yes, I think interviewing Madonna was pretty full-on. You know, I never bought a Madonna CD. I’d seen her in concert, and obviously the world knows about Madonna, but I wasn’t an avid Madonna fan. I did a lot of research to go into the interview, because I’m a big research guy so I know everything about her.

When I entered the room, it was just clear really quickly that this was a girl who does whatever the hell she wants, no matter what. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is just adamant on being herself and having fun. The first two questions I said to her, she said, “Jason, these are damn boring. Ask me something more interesting. Let’s make this fun.” It kind of rattled me a bit and threw me off of my game! There were thirty people in the room and a crew, and it was dead still.

I’m just thinking to myself, “Is this normal? What is going on? This has never happened before.” [Laughs]. Funny enough, she was just being candid and real. Then when she liked a question, she was really into it, and personable, and engaging. It was just fun. I actually learned a lot. I learned a lot from her. About embracing who you are and not worrying about what people expect you to be.”

That’s a really good thing.

“Yes, I thought it was great!”

If you could interview any celebrity, past or present, who would it be?

“I would interview Mark Wahlberg and The Rock. I’m really passionate about entrepreneurship, and I think Ryan Seacrest has done it as well, but I would love to chat with The Rock and Walhberg because these are two guys that started in one certain area and have diversified really well. Obviously, in entertainment, which is a parallel to what I’m doing so it makes sense for me.

Mark Walhberg got his start as a rapper, and then morphed into an actor. Now he’s a really successful producer and an entrepreneur with all sorts of different products and businesses going on.

The Rock’s the same. He’s now one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and he started as a wrestler. I really look up to guys who are opportunists and see moments and seize them! The guys who give everything they’ve got a 100% ! I look at their trajectory in life and I emulate it.”

I’m a huge admirer of Mark Wahlberg and The Rock for that reason. Jessica Alba is another one who I admire.

“She’s good, she’s good. I mean, you know, it’s a little harder to relate, because I don’t really know the beginning of her story, that’s the only thing. Look what she’s doing with the Honest Company, that’s cool, it’s worth a billion bucks. I mean, Jessica Simpson’s the same. I interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow the other day who’s doing great stuff too.”

When you do research, I’m curious, you touched a bit on that and you’re pretty thorough, Do you have any tips for any reporters, any people to looking to get into the business on how you research and what types of things you do?

“Yes. I structure my interviews. If I want to talk to someone about X,Y,Z, I write down these questions, and then I make sure that I’ve researched every single possible scenario in any direction of that question. Whatever I’m asking them, I want to know every possible outcome and the answer to every possible outcome.

I’ll search until I find all of those answers, so I can predict any direction the person goes in. If they go on a tangent, nine times out of ten, I know that tangent and I know where it ends. I know why they started it. I know every outcome of wherever they’re going to go, so that I can keep copying and dictate the story.

My job is to navigate the story to make it entertaining. I want to make it comfortable for them, allow them to say candid stuff that people are engaged in.”

That’s fabulous. I may take some of those tips actually.

“I read a lot, as much as I can, and I always try and find some candid stuff, or a certain comment they’ve made or a reference to a café or, just something really, really specific, and I’ll weave it in. Not in a direct question way, but I’ll weave it in in a comment. So they know that I know a lot about them. Then automatically they’re comfortable and they respect you. They see that you’ve done the hard work.”

I do a lot of that too, but you went a step further, so I think I might try it.

“I mean, look, two weeks ago, I had to interview Gwyneth Paltrow for an hour on stage in front of four thousand people in Vegas. It wasn’t televised. I think I read for three days about Gwyneth. I know everything about Gwyneth. [Laughs].

 She’s really cool. I hope she does well. She’s starting a new company called Three Green Hearts which is healthy snacks! She’s got a good message.”

Let’s talk about America’s Best Dance Crew.

“So fun, we’re two episodes down. We shot the third episode last night. It’s off-the-hook! It airs next week. It’s a honor to be on this show. You get the best crews in the world going down.

I love dance. I’ve had a private hip-hop coach the last three months, just so I can understand what these guys are doing, and how hard it is. How emotional it is, and what the journey means, and what it means for them to bare their souls on the stage. It’s just incredible to be a part of.”

How many groups are competing this season?

“We have six and five past-champion crews. The sixth crew is called the Kinjaz. They’re a combination of the Jabbawockeez, the season one winners who have a Vegas show, and a crew called Kaba Modern, which is also from one of the earlier seasons.

Most people on the stage have been there before, and won before, so it’s actually pretty full-on to see guys at this level going at each other. At the beginning, everyone was sort of warming up to it, thinking how’s this going to play out, now it’s full-on. Episode three is like a total battle. It’s amazing!”

Who are the judges this season?

“We have T-Pain, who danced actually last night on the show, you have to check it out, he’s unbelievable. He’s so cool. Teyana Taylor, who’s very nice, and Frankie Grande, obviously Ariana’s brother and he was on “Big Brother.” He’s very eccentric and loud. [Laughs].”

Do you have any predictions so far?

“I’m not involved in the voting process. You have such diverse strengths from each of the crews. Super Cr3w, they’re really good at powerful break dancing moves. The Kinjaz are very good at synchronicity, being slow and poetic with their movements. I.aM.mE. are really amazing at creating these visual masterpieces on the stage. Quest Crew is really charismatic and comedic.

You’ve got four diverse genres of dance, I guess, all culminating into this one stage. I think it can kind of go any direction. You haven’t seen the episode, but last night one of the crews sort of scuffed up a bit and they’re a really good crew. I think it will all come down to who delivers on the day.”

This is a question from Twitter. When are you going to get back on morning TV with Carrie?”

“I used to host VH1’s morning show in New York with Carrie Keagan. I did it for four years, I think, or three years. I don’t know. I left that show because I got two new shows, one in Australia called “The Big Adventure,” which is in Fiji, on an island, where we give someone a million bucks. It’s like “Survivor.” Then to do do this show for MTV.

I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon. Nick Lachey’s in there now, and he seems to be well at home!”

They miss the chemistry between you and Carrie.

“We had a lot of fun. That was live. It was unscripted. It was very candid. It was cool!”

I have to ask you about DundasFit, your new active wear line.

“Basically, this all started a couple of years ago. I was going to the gym a lot, and I was getting a lot of attention on social media and people were saying, “How do you exercise? What do you eat? What do you wear to the gym?” All these sorts of things, so I started this hashtag called DundasFit, which is short for Jason Dundas Fitness. It created this online community of like-minded people who were passionate about being fit and healthy.

It got to the point where I had a big following on there. I sat back and looked at my options at that time. I have this passion and background in design and that’s something I wanted to get back into. I also was working for a department store called David Jones in Australia. It is almost like a Bloomingdales. I sort of thought, gosh, there’s a gap in the market for clothes for guys that they can wear to the gym, and also wear out on the street socially. It’s not too layery. It’s not too gym-centric. It’s almost like the revolution that happened with women with yoga pants. They wear them to the gym and then now they wear them when they get coffee with their girlfriends.

I saw that gap for fashionable active wear, and I spent a couple of years developing the line. About three days ago we released it into twenty-five stores in Australia! It’s going well. There’s about seventeen pieces in the line. The price-point’s pretty low. It’s about forty-five bucks for a tank top or a singlet. Fifty bucks for a pair of shorts. It’s all pretty good.”

Do you think that we’ll see it here in the states?

“You can shop online at David Jones. I think it’s just davidjones.com.au. You can shop online worldwide, or on dundasfit.com. You can see all the stuff with details. In terms of being brick-and-mortar in the US, yes, definitely.”

Your friend, Lendale is asking “When are you hitting?”

“He’s a tennis pro!

I love tennis. Tennis is my favorite sport. I went to the French Open this year in Paris, and the US Open the year before. I love tennis, so I play tennis a lot in LA. Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to play last week, but I’ll play this week!”

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