Star quality: Canadian superstar Keshia Chanté joins as a new host of CBC's Battle of the Blades

By Mishal Cazmi

In partnership with Battle of the Blades

As the sixth season of Battle of the Blades kicks off with a new roster of competitors and judges, it's also introducing a brand new co-host. Canadian powerhouse Keshia Chanté joins veteran sportscaster Ron MacLean in hosting duties this year.

No stranger to the world of entertainment, the talented singer-songwriter, TV host and actress will help guide audiences as they watch eight teams of professional hockey players and figure skaters compete to win $100,000 for the charity of their choice. With several chart-topping hits, acting credentials and accolades, the Ottawa-born, Toronto-raised star brings a unique perspective to the show.

Returning to Canada from her current home in Los Angeles, Keshia spoke with Hello! about her new role, her memories of skating growing up and what she's looking forward to most this season.

HELLO! Canada: How does it feel to come on board as co-host for CBC's Battle of the Blades?
Keshia Chanté: It feels amazing. The show is iconic. I live in L.A. and with everything that's going on, I'm just missing home. To be able to come home and celebrate Canadians in this way with some of the best of the best – it's nice to be back and be a part of something that people really enjoy.

You recently mentioned that hockey and ice skating were a big part of your life and how they made you nostalgic.
I remember skating as a little girl. There was a park beside my house and in the wintertime, they would turn it into a skating rink. On the weekends, all the kids would be out there and the adults would be playing hockey. And then obviously, I was in a seven-year relationship with a hockey player. We were always either at a game or I'd go to his practices. My love for the ice has been long.

How does it feel to share hosting duties with Ron MacLean?
He's incredible. He's super professional and super gracious. Already, our interactions have been amazing. I'm going to learn so much from him, which I'm really looking forward to. Just to say I have been able to work with Ron is adding to the highlight reel of my life.

Photo: © CBC

What kind of dynamic do you think you'll both have?
Ron is a classic broadcaster and a professional who knows everything when it comes to ice skating in the competition. I'm more humorous and a little bit louder than Ron – I'm going to be craving jokes the entire time. At the end of the day, I'm an entertainer. I know how to judge a performance. He's going to be looking at things form a technical perspective, but I'm going to look at the overall performance. I want to add glam, some flair and be as funny as possible.

What do you think makes a great performance?
It's confidence and your body language – it says most of everything. When someone is confident, it really shows in the performance. Really owning every single move makes it seamless. If you can make it look effortless, which we know ice skating isn't, that to me is a huge deal.

Battle of the Blades has made diversity a major priority and this season is the most diverse yet. Can you speak to the significance of this?
It's a huge deal. Growing up in Toronto, there was a lot of diversity. With television and film, especially coming out of Canada, we want to be as inclusive as we can and this is an opportunity to do that. People want to be reflected in the entertainment that they consume every single day. Battle of the Blades is a family show and it brings me joy to think that everybody watching it is going to feel included and like they're being well-represented. That's the goal for me.

What are you most excited about or looking forward to seeing on the show?
I want to see the glitz, the glam, the triple axel! I want to see a show! I'm really excited to be entertained.

How do you hope this show will resonate with Canadian audiences?
This is the relief we need. We've had a tough year. A lot of people are struggling with their mental health. TV is about escapism and an opportunity to not think about what's going on outside. I'm hoping that this show can bring some sort of joy to people's lives.

Tune in Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

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