This piece originally appeared in Issue 742 of HELLO! Canada magazine.
It's been hard to pin down Tyrone Edwards for a whole afternoon in front of the camera. Since becoming co-anchor of Canadian entertainment show etalk, the dapper dad of two has been busier than ever. Nevertheless, before our photographer takes his first shot, Tyrone takes a moment. He wants to convey the significance of our location.
"The reason I wanted to do the shoot here," he says, gesturing to his childhood home, a townhouse nestled in Toronto's east end, "is because this house prepared me for my life in so many ways."
It's here, in this close-knit neighbourhood, where a teenage Tyrone used to film homemade music videos in the alleyway, dreaming of a career on-air. That dream was realized in 2011, when his lifestyle blog landed him an audition at Much. He progressed to E! and then etalk, interviewing stars on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival.
This past summer, in the wake of George Floyd's death, he took part in CTV's special program Change & Action: Racism in Canada. In September, after Ben Mulroney's June departure from etalk, Tyrone was named his successor.
"Everything that has happened in my life has led me to this point," says the charismatic 39-year-old, who also acts as a mentor and ambassador for underprivileged youth through programs like the Remix Project, a non-profit that uses creative programs as a tool for education.
At the core of his success sits his family: mom Josephine, whose home is the scene of our photo shoot; his former partner, AdeelaCarter, and their daughters Lyric, 19, and Life, 9.
"This moment I'm living right now was dreamt up in this house and surrounded by these women," says the Montreal-born Jamaican-Canadian. "They mean everything to me."
Here, Tyrone shares his favourite memories, parenting advice and his hopes for an "unmuted" future.
HELLO! Canada: Have you always been surrounded by so many women?
Tyrone Edwards: I grew up in this house with four women: my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and my cousin. Four very different women. Any time I get a compliment about who I am as a person, as a man and as a partner, it's all thanks to those women. It was a very peaceful house to grow up in – there were disagreements, but never a slammed door or yelling.
What was the best parenting advice you learned from your mom?
My mom always used to say, 'Nothing tried, nothing done.' I couldn't stop saying it to myself. We're faced with so many decisions in our lives, but if you don't take a chance and try something new, nothing will change. I've passed that on to my daughters. You're not allowed to say, "I can't" if you haven't tried. "I don't want to," sure, but that's something we have to explore. Until you try it, you won't know.
Do you see yourself in your daughters?
I do. I see a lot of myself in [my younger daughter] Life, which is cool. But the things that resonate with me are the things that I don't recognize [in myself]. She's shy, and I had to learn how to understand and work with it. I learn a lot from her.
What's your relationship with your daughters' mother like?
I'm so blessed that Adeela is the mother of my girls. She's a great example. The romantic portion of our journey has come and gone, but we love and respect each other. We have a lifetime commitment in our children. I'm proud of the relationship we have, I support her in everything she does and we're a team in dealing with our girls. We decided that we didn't have to play any roles or hate each other because we're not together. We don't play into any cliché.
What's been an important life lesson for you as a father?
I'll tell you an amazing story. Life and I went to a movie junket last year for Playing With Fire an she was going to be doing the interview with John Cena. She was so excited to fly there, shop, get her makeup done and prepare her questions, but once it came time for the interview, she froze and was too nervous. I was trying to calm her down while also wondering what I was going to do if she couldn't go through with it.
Someone told John how nervous my daughter was, and he came out and said to her, "I'm nervous, too! Why don't you ask me one question right now? That way, you get a practice run and I can prepare my answer." He treated her with so much care, I wanted to hug him!
It was such a great lesson about how to approach any issues kids may have. It's not enough to say, "Don't be nervous." You have to help them through their problems.
Speaking of movie junkets, was this what you've always wanted to do?
Ever since I lived in this very house, I always wanted to be on television. My personality was always kind of loud and outgoing. People would always tell me that I belonged on television!
How did this journey begin for you?
When I moved back to Toronto after going to university in Michigan, I felt such appreciation for the city and everything it had taught me that I started a bog called ILoveTO as a love letter. I would post about fashion, community, food and music being created by Torontonians around the world. Someone at Much was a fan and cold-called me for an audition for their new show, RapCity. I had applied to Much so many times that I thought it was a joke and hung up the phone! Once I realized it was for real, I called back, went for a screen test and went on-air for the first time in January 2011.
What do you remember from that first time?
There was a lot of love from the city and the country in general. They were all just so excited to see someone from the community in that position and that seat. I also yelled in the microphone a lot, and someone wrote me to say, "Great job, but stop yelling." [Laughs] From then on, I would watch my shows like a game tape and learn from any mistakes. I don't yell in the microphone anymore.
Who's been your favourite person to interview so far?
Drake, while he was recording the Take Care album in 2011. We talked at 4 a.m. in the studio as he was working. Drake and I have known each other for years; I threw his 21st birthday party! When I started on RapCity, he wanted to make sure he was my first-ever interview.
In your first promo for etalk, you called yourself "unmuted." What does that mean to you?
Growing up, I was always taught how to survive. It sounds dramatic, but it's true. I knew that my blackness, in its purest form, wasn't welcomed or understood or respected in all rooms. Me unmuting myself was me realizing how to navigate these spaces without compromising who I am.
Building up a tolerance to mistreatment and micro-aggressions, I got to a point where I could't be quiet anymore. I've packed that way deep in my heart, but that was an effect on you long-term. When I say I'm unmuted, that means forever.
Would you say your new role at etalk came at the perfect time?
Everything that has happened in my life has led me to this point, from the fun and fantastic to the community and my profession. The timing to take this seat is perfect. It's divine. I'm ready.