If it weren’t surrounded by bright stage lights and housed on a stage on the Universal backlot, the set of Kelly Clarkson’s new talk show could be the setting for the coolest new bar in Austin, Texas.
With natural and cozy textures, expertly mismatched patterns and funky light choices throughout, it projects a warm and inviting vibe that’s not unlike the one the first-time talk show host projects herself.
“I love talking and I genuinely like people,” Clarkson says.
Case in point, it took her mere seconds for her to prove that true as we sat to be mic’d up for our interview. A producer, seemingly used to finding ways to elegantly interrupt chatty Clarkson, had to step in so we could start recording the interview properly.
“We learn so much from others when we take the time to listen,” Clarkson adds.
Clarkson is at home on the Universal backlot. It’s where she also films “The Voice,” the reality competition show with a rotating list of coaches. This year, she’s alongside Blake Shelton, John Legend and Gwen Stefani.
It’s proved to be a good gig for Clarkson, whose musical mastery, bubbly persona and down-to-earth delivery have made her a panel favorite. In some way, “The Voice” introduced viewers to Clarkson’s own voice beyond powerhouse notes.
On “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” she’s taking that to the next level, and, she says, hoping to use it to bridge gaps.
Taking a cue from “The Graham Norton Show,” Clarkson’s show features a panel — only hers has celebrities sitting side-by-side with non-famous faces. (Some of her guests include Dwayne Johnson, John Legend and Ellen DeGeneres.)
“You’ll see like, a librarian sitting next to a celebrity, sitting next to a singer, an actor; it’s different [mixes],” she says.
She hopes this approach leads to conversations that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Honest dialogue, she says, is just what the world is calling for.
“It’s a very divisive time right now, unfortunately,” she says. “I mean, the social climate is very intense right now and I want it to be the hour of television that’s a bit of escapism for everyone. Like, I want everyone to enjoy the show.”
Like her concerts — where people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds come together — she hopes to bring that spirit to her show.
“We’re going to highlight all different kinds of people,” she said.
She also has no plans to shy away from taboo subjects or politics. At one point, her executive producers showed her a board of about 50 ideas and topics and gave her the option of nixing any that she was uncomfortable tackling. She removed none of them.
“I was like, ‘I’m cool with them all,'” she recalls. “I’m very excited about kind of unifying and leaving some positive footprints.”