Photo Essay: I’m Going to Be on CCTV (China Central Television)!

mmexport1433086245275I still can’t believe I’m writing these words — I’m going to be on CCTV (that’s China Central Television)! Specifically, the CCTV English language show called “Crossover” (it’s a cross-cultural talk show — our episode is titled “foreign wives in China”) which will air sometime in August or September of this year. (I’ll let you know when.)

Back in March, Zhou Lei (the show’s director) introduced herself to me after my appearance at the Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival. She told me she was a fan of my blog and asked if I might be interested in being on CCTV.

Zhou Lei and me.
Zhou Lei and me.


Having spent so many years in China, I know CCTV — and have loved many of their shows. Plus, it’s CCTV! The thought of being on China’s biggest and most important television network sent waves of excitement through my body. So I didn’t hesitate — I said, “Yes, I’d love to!”

In May, I took part in a pre-interview session via Skype with Zhou Lei and Eyee Hsu, the co-host of “Crossover”. Later that week, Zhou Lei sent me an e-mail officially inviting me to Beijing to film a show on May 27 — and offering to cover my travel and hotel costs. (Double wow!) Who could say no to that?

With the invitation in hand, I started thinking about one of the most basic questions — what to wear? Since I didn’t have anything good for TV (and I live in a country where my size, while typical in America, is impossible to buy) I decided to find a tailor who could create the perfect dress for me. With the help of my one of my husband’s close college friends, we discovered this brilliant tailor in the Hangzhou area — she created this lovely little qipao that I dubbed “the magic dress”! I gasped the moment I first laid eyes on it — I just knew it would give me extra confidence in front of the cameras.

The perfect dress!
The perfect dress!

Zhou Lei also sent me an outline about a week ahead of taping the show. That’s when I discovered I would be sharing the spotlight with two incredibly talented young foreign women with Chinese husbands — Jess Meider (an amazing musician, performer, composer and teacher who has made her mark in Beijing as an outstanding jazz vocalist and singer-songwriter) and Marie Smurthwaite (a talented performer and member of a girl group called “5 Spice”). Even better, we were able to connect on WeChat before the program, so I got the chance to know them a little before going on stage.

I was thrilled to be on stage with two talented young women with Chinese husbands -- Jess Meider (left) and Marie Smurthwaite.
I was thrilled to be on stage with two talented young women with Chinese husbands — Jess Meider (left) and Marie Smurthwaite.

Finally, this past Tuesday, I boarded an Air China flight bound for Beijing — feeling thrilled and a little nervous at the same time! (It was my first time on TV, can you blame me?)

I arrived in Beijing Tuesday afternoon and it was dark by the time I emerged from the subway station closest to my hotel. When I walked out, the CCTV Headquarters stretched across the sky, shining like a promise of great things to come.


Zhou Lei had generously checked me into my hotel, the Chaoyang Hotel, ahead of time (thank you so much!) so it was a breeze getting into my room for the night. I spent most of the evening reading through the outline and thinking about how I might answer the questions during our conversation.


The following day, I arrived at the South Gate of CCTV Headquarters at 1pm. The building glinted in the sunshine while I tried not to sweat too much (it was a hot, balmy day — 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit)!


They run tight security at CCTV — and why wouldn’t they? It’s one of the most important buildings in Beijing, if not China. Everyone needs an escort inside and must pass through more than one screening. Fortunately, I ran into Jess Meider at the entrance so the two of us could walk inside together (along with our escort, Jeff Lau). I loved Jess instantly!

The staff brought us into the makeup room, where we were joined by Marie (who I also loved!). I was so grateful that the show’s makeup artists were able to help us with our makeup (I’ve never been skilled in that department!) and hair. Marie also graciously lent me her extra pair of high-heeled shoes, which matched my dress far better than my own pair. Thank you, Marie!

The fabulous makeup artists who made us all look beautiful!
The fabulous makeup artists who made us all look beautiful!

Then it was time to get dressed and enter the “Crossover” TV set. And it’s a funny thing — when I finally marched onto the set and sat myself down on the creamy white couches on set, my nerves were suddenly replaced with this overwhelming sense of excitement.


Having Eyee Hsu as our host made the show. She is so down-to-earth and fun to be around, not to mention incredibly generous. When everyone noticed I didn’t have any earrings to wear (yeah, forgot that one), she immediately took hers out and lent them to me for the show. Thank you, Eyee!

Before the cameras started running, the staff had us adjust our positions (and, in my case, my dress) to look good for the show.

Then before I knew it, the cameras were rolling and Eyee began introducing the show as well as the three of us. We discussed everything from how we met our husbands and cultural differences we’ve experienced to our wedding stories and the differences between dating Western guys versus Chinese guys. During the show, Marie and her husband King sang a beautiful song in Chinese, and later Jess performed an incredible song of her own with her band Chinatown. I was truly blown away with their talent!

Jess performing on stage with her husband, Gao Fang.
Jess performing on stage with her husband (to her right)

Around 5:30pm, we all left the CCTV building together — with my heart dancing from the amazing experience of being filmed for a show. I wished I could have spent more time with Jess and Marie, who were truly delightful company on stage and off. I also wished I had more time to see my friends in Beijing. But I had things to do back in Hangzhou and knew it would all have to wait for another trip to Beijing and another time.

Thank you to everyone at CCTV for an amazing time and I can’t wait to see the episode when it officially airs later this year!

41 Replies to “Photo Essay: I’m Going to Be on CCTV (China Central Television)!”

  1. Oh, that is so exciting! Congrats! Couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

    Thank you for giving us a little backstage tour. You and your dress look fantastic.

    I’m really impressed with your classy host. Not everyone would give up their earrings.

    1. Thanks Autumn! Yeah, Eyee Hsu was such a wonderful host on so many levels…but actually, she had another pair of earrings she could wear so she wasn’t really giving them up per se. She had several outfits hanging in the makeup room, so I suspect she also has a bunch of earrings to choose from too!

      1. I shall pick up the shattered pieces of my illusions and move on. Wish me luck.

        But still, a very cool and thrilling experience. Will you post a link when it airs?

        1. Oh Autumn, you are not the only one cradling shattered pieces of illusions…maybe we can work on that together?

          Absolutely, I’ll post a link once it goes on the air! And if I can find out when it runs ahead of time, I’ll let you all know. It’s possible the program might run on CCTV America (I have a feeling it might, especially since our host Eyee Hsu is American), and I know some cable plans include the channel in the US.

  2. I also love that dress!

    What a great experience. I can’t wait to see the show. Did you speak in English?

  3. Uuuuh, fancy! You all look gorgeous! I was going to ask if the show was in English but you already replied 😀

    I have never heard of this show (well to be honest I don’t really watch tv), is it a regular show? Does it broadcast on the English language CCTV channel?

    1. Thanks Marta!

      You might not have heard of it because it’s a relatively new show for CCTV’s English language channel. It just started at the end of 2014/early 2015.

      But the show’s co-hosts are both CCTV veterans. Eyee Hsu has been with CCTV for over a decade (she used to host the interview show Up Close. And Ji Xiaojun (the other co-host who wasn’t present for this episode — he was out of town) has been with CCTV’s English channel since 2000. He hosts Culture Express as well as Crossover.

  4. Hey, the sky above the CCTV headquarters actually looks kinda blue in your picture… 🙂


  5. Congratulations on your appearance on TV.
    A few (about 5) years ago there was a version of ‘Crossover’ on CCTV that was one of the most dull programmes I have ever seen: we are talking about 3 people in a bland studio talking yes TALIKNG about topics such as ‘Subway stations of the world’.
    Few if any pictures were used.
    At the time it was one of very few not in Chinese.
    It cured me of watching TV in China.

    I am glad that it has been re-vamped to make it a bit more interesting.

    1. Thanks Sorrel!

      Well, while I’ve never seen the previous Crossover, I’d like to think this current version is a much better show. Eyee Hsu is such an energetic and entertaining host. We had a really delightful conversation with her. And the two musical performances were such a pleasure to watch!

      Anyhow, when the show comes out, I’ll share the video with all of you and you can tell me what you think of it!

  6. Awesomeness Once Again! Congrats!!! I love this story. Not only did you get to be on that amazing show, but the hospitality is so heart-warming. WoW!

    1. Thanks Abigail! They really were incredibly hospitable at “Crossover” — and the other guests on the show, Jess and Marie, were super-nice and and pleasure to have as company. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience on TV!

  7. Hi J.E.,

    I am salivating now knowing that you are going to be even more famous than previously. I have often told you that you are the greatest and this appearance on the show is yet one more example of your greatness along with the other 2 Western women. I just cannot wait to see it. I hope that it will come out on the internet or on youtube soon. Congratulations!!!!!


  8. Marie is the hottest thing in Chinese Media right now. You guys on the show at once will be a feast of harvest for the ratings.

  9. Congrats Jocelyn, not only are you a beacon for the AMWF crowd but perhaps a celebrity in China as well. You must be terribly nervous and excited. I know I would be quite scared to be on TV. All the power to you. You go girl.

    1. Aw, thanks Simon! I was extremely nervous about it! As a writer, I’ve always felt most comfortable expressing myself through written words. And admittedly, I am a recovering perfectionist (which means I’ve been known to obsess over what I say and how I say it). So yes, being on the spot for a TV show challenged me on so many levels. But I know I’m a better person for doing it. The experience boosted my confidence and made me realize I can in fact do TV (just like I discovered that, when I went to Beijing to do a panel for the Bookworm Lit Fest, I can indeed do public speaking). It definitely takes a LOT of energy and preparation for me — but totally worth it.

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