Robinson, Shaun 19(?)(?)–
Shaun Robinson 19(?)(?)–
Reporter, interviewer, moderator, host, actress
A popular television news anchor and interviewer of movie stars, Shaun Robinson made her way up from local reporter in cities such as Detroit, Austin, and Milwaukee, to weekend anchor for Access Hollywood, a national source of entertainment and celebrity happenings. Skilled at conversing with the elite of the television and film industries, as well as summarizing breaking news on the latest movie and cinema awards, she entered the television spotlight with poise and a genuine interest in entertainment. A film actress, fashion maven, and beauty in her own right, she became known for her resonant voice, tasteful fashions, and dazzling hairstyles. She regularly appeared at hip restaurants, trendy boutiques, and annual awards galas featuring glamorous people. In addition, Robinson also contributed to conferences and benefits that helped poor women and promoted equal opportunities for black people.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Robinson got her start in television news broadcasting at the local level. She advanced her career in 1989 as the evening news anchor at KEYE-TV in Austin, Texas. Robinson then moved to WGPR-TV, a Detroit CBS affiliate and the first blackowned television station in the United States. Her next position as a news anchor and medical reporter took her to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s WISN-TV. Her performance as host of the daily talk program Milwaukee’s Talking earned Robinson accolades for her ability to engage guests and gather significant information. She later anchored morning and noon news at WSVN-TV in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
After a debut in the entertainment news field on the nationally syndicated show Xtra in May of 1999, Robinson joined the staff of regulars producing the syndicated show Access Hollywood. She began as a weekend anchor and correspondent for the program, a daily entertainment and TV news show that offered comprehensive coverage of entertainment events and personalities. In addition to these duties, Robinson also acted as a standby substitute for daily anchor Nancy O’Dell.
At a Glance…
Born in Detroit, Ml. Education: Spelman College, Atlanta.
Career: News reporter, KEYE-TV, Austin, Texas, 1989; reporter, WGPR-TV, Detroit, MI; reporter and news anchor, medical reporter, Milwaukee’s Talking, WISN-TV, Milwaukee, WI; news anchor, WSVN-TV, Miami, FL; entertainment news reporting, Xtra; entertainment reporter and weekend anchor, AccessHollywood, 1999-. Actress: Any Day Now, 2000; America’s Sweethearts, 2001; Dr. Dolittle 2, 2001; Blue Crush, 2002; The Parkers, 2002.
Robinson’s broadcast job required personal one-on-one visits with such stars as Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Matthew Perry, Will Smith, Angela Bassett, and Alicia Keys. After the premiere of Dazzled at the Mann Village Theatre in October 2000, Robinson interviewed actress Elizabeth Hurley concerning her starring role. For the inside story on the film Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (2001), Robinson talked with director Jason Priestley. To Essence magazine she confided the secret of actors who must find hands-on outlets for stress: “Hollywood is a really tough town, and celebrities are under a lot of stress—from the tension of trying to impress a director to the anxiety of not knowing if they’ll get the part—so massages are their answer. It keeps them relaxed and focused.”
Robinson was armed with Palm Pilot, cell phone, and pager—the tools of the news gatherer’s trade—in the spring of 2001 when she met with Essence reporter Elayne M. Fluker to answer questions concerning the lives of the Hollywood VIPs she had met while working for Access Hollywood. Choosing the Ivy Restaurant in Beverly Hills, a prime people-watching spot, Fluker probed Robinson for details about how celebrities made their way from being “nobodies” to being prestigious and influential insiders. With appreciation for the media’s role in creating fame, Robinson replied, “The stars know how to work their VIP status. You have to have Hollywood abuzz.” As examples of rising notables, she named actors Sanaa Lathan and Michael Michele.
Obviously well versed on the maneuverings of the in-crowd, Robinson listed among the qualities of a Hollywood VIP the maintenance of casual, understated dress, small amounts of makeup, and a “wow” of a hairdo. She added, “The VIP sister entertains at home and will dine everywhere from Roscoe’s, eating chicken and waffles, to Crustaceans, enjoying shrimp and crablegs. She shops on Rodeo Drive, and her must-haves are a good hairstylist, a great makeup artist, and a designer who lets her borrow a fabulous gown for an awards ceremony.” The description seemed to fit Robinson as well as the stars she interviewed.
Robinson spoke candidly to Fluker about the arrival and departure of notables on “the list.” Commenting on its state of flux, she said, “People fall off every day.” She added that a slide from inclusion among the elite began when “people don’t return your phone calls.” Fluker concluded that Robinson knew how to cultivate style and attitude by being seen at fashionable places. Near the end of her exchange with Huker, Robinson stressed that the true VIP avoids gaudy, crowd-drawing white limousine for transportation. She observed, “The only time you should be riding in a white limo is when you’re getting married, okay? The real stars like Halle Berry always arrive in an all-black sedan. And entourages are out.”
As a familiar broadcaster from the entertainment world, Robinson perennially cropped up at events that drew screen stars, television personalities, directors, and producers, such as the premiere of the Nicholas Cage’s 2001 film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. In December of 2000, Detroit News interviewer Greg Dunmore singled out Robinson and others as “Detroiter Success Stories Throughout Hollywood” for serving on the National Association of Black Journalists Arts & Entertainment Task Force panel supporting Diversity in Hollywood. A month later, she returned to celebrity media pages after attending the 16th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at the Atlanta Civic Center. Comfortably assured of a position on “the list,” Robinson exhibited her own aplomb in the camera’s eye by attending the grand opening party for Madre’s, Jennifer Lopez’s restaurant, in April of 2002, and by creating a stir two months later at the Second Annual Black Entertainment Television Awards.
Robinson has made entertainment-page news with photos of her graceful gowns, notably, at the Silver Screen Theatre in Los Angeles for the Eighth Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 10, 2002. Fans and fashion hounds were already primed to eye her outfit after catching her entrance at the Golden Globe Awards Ceremony in 2000, where she wore a sleek creation by Sri Lankan-born designer Dinesh Chandrasena. Robinson also favored the ultra-feminine evening wear of designer Monique Lhuillier, who runs an upscale firm along with her husband Tom Bugbee. Robinson’s name is allied with that of Johnny Wright, a freelance celebrity hair stylist, and with Skinlogics, a cosmetics firm whose cleansers and moisturizers she touts.
Dressing to personal advantage is part of Robinson’s image as the Hollywood media specialist. The March of 2001 Oscar ceremony required her appearance at the Lion’s Gate pre-Oscar Party and the Lincoln-Savoy pre-presentation Gala for the smash film Monster’s Ball, a history-making film for black America. She joined a prominent coterie of black celebrities supporting Halle Berry’s bid for an Oscar. Later that day, she attended the 74th Annual Academy Awards, and was one of the first reporters to congratulate a visibly shaken Berry, who had just become the first black performer to be awarded the Oscar for best actress. Into the late hours, Robinson was still on the job at the seventh annual Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Mortons in West Hollywood, where 120 media hounds gathered to question and shoot footage of 850 celebrities in attendance.
Robinson eased into acting by portraying her regular journalistic role. In 2000 she co-starred in the episode “You Think I Am Lying to You?” of Any Day Now, a popular sitcom that evolved from the Civil Rights Movement. In 2002, she reprised the newsgirl-on-camera part as guest star on the episode “It’s Showtime,” of The Parkers, a spin-off of the UPN hit sitcom Moesha. Robinson also made a 15-second cameo as a Nevada TV correspondent in the film sequel, Dr. Dolittle 2, starring Eddie Murphy. That same year she acted in America’s Sweethearts, a star-packed comedy from Columbia Pictures featuring Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Christopher Walken, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and John Cusack.
In making public appearances, Robinson often did much more than just smile for the cameras. In February of 2001, she was a presenter at the 15th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, a black-tie affair held at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. On July 30, 2001, she and Emmy-winning actor Shemar Moore announced nominations at the Seventh Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in Santa Monica, California. In July of 2002 at the Sixth Annual American Black Film Festival held at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, Robinson hobnobbed with actors Eriq La Salle, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jamie Foxx, and John Singleton. Robinson later joined actor-director Robert Townsend as co-moderator to laud black filmmakers.
Robinson was a regular at events that promoted the advancement of black professionals in the entertainment industry. She was also an eager participant at charity events. At the Celebration of Life benefit concert at Park West in Chicago, she joined pop singers Patti LaBelle and Jeffrey Osborne to honor deceased football legend Walter Payton. In addition to paying tribute to Payton, the event was staged to help raise money for the first annual Walter Payton Cancer Fund drive. As moderator Robinson thanked new contributors and volunteers. She also encourage the audience to increase the amounts on their donation checks if they were able to do so. In April of 2000 Operation HOPE, Inc. chose her and news colleague Dave Clark to host a two-day Inner-City Economic Summit at Los Angeles Southwest College. Among the event’s highlights was a keynote address by former Vice President Al Gore.
Robinson combined looks, intelligence, and fashion savvy with altruism in other appearances. In November of 2001 she participated in the Online Celebrity Suit Auction for the Women’s Alliance with the donation of a Barami burnt orange skirt suit. The proceeds provided needy women with clothes and advice on seeking and holding a job. In March of 2002 Robinson attended the one-year anniversary celebration of the Shikiri Boutique in Los Angeles. The next month, she joined owner Shikiri Johnson at the Hogan Trunk Show, a fashion preview and benefit for the Fulfillment Fund, a non-profit agency offering career and precollege counseling, mentoring, internships, and scholarships for deserving students.
Dr. Dolittle 2, Twentieth Century Fox, 2001.
America’s Sweethearts, Columbia Pictures, 2002.
Broadcasting & Cable, July 5, 1999, p. 19.
Detroit News, January 19, 2000; December 6, 2000.
Essence, April, 2001.
Heart and Soul, May, 2002.
Hollywood Reporter, June 26, 2001; March 26, 2002.
Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2000, p. 6; March 24, 2001, p. F10.
Michigan Front Page, July 5, 2002.
Times Mirror, July 6, 2000.
USA Today, March 22, 2002.
The Internet Movie Database, www.imbd.com
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass
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