From Nile Rodgers to Sandra Oh, some of q's most memorable interviews of 2018

What were q's top interviews of the year? Here are some faves, as chosen by those who make the show

What were q's top interviews of the year? Here are some faves, as chosen by those who make the show

2018 has been an incredible year for interviews on q. Here are just some of the most memorable moments, as chosen by those who create the show every day. (CBC q; Getty Images)

This year has been an incredible one for interviews on q.

We featured dozens of personalities who have shaped music, movies, television, theatre, literature, gaming, visual art and more for decades, and who have had a massive impact across Canada and around the world.

We've also introduced audiences to incredible up-and-comers who will no doubt play a big part in arts and entertainment for years to come.

With so many unforgettable interviews to choose from, it would be impossible to create a list of the best — so here are just some of our most memorable moments from 2018, as chosen by those who create the show every day.

q live at the Grand Ole Opry

There have been many goosebump-inducing moments at q over the years, but few compared to emerging from the backstage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee and walking to the famed "circle" at the front of the stage — the place where legends like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Snow and many more have stood and sung their songs for the Opry audience. The most historic musical location we've ever taken q. The opportunity to stand on that stage and produce a song circle with four of Canada's most exciting country music artists was one I won't forget. — Mitch Pollock, producer

Sally Field

I didn't really know what to expect when I found out that I'd be interviewing the legendary actor Sally Field, especially when I read her memoir and discovered how darkly personal it was. I don't want to spoil it but to hear an Academy Award winner tell you a story about abuse, neglect and ultimately love and triumph — it made me incredibly grateful that people trust us enough to tell us those stories. — Tom Power, q host

Thandie Newton 

For the duration of the Toronto International Film Festival in September, q set up a mini remote studio at a nearby hotel where a lot of the film talent was going to be moving and shaking. Everyone from Julia Roberts to Quincy Jones, Jonah Hill to Viola Davis milled about surrounded by cellphone-strapped entourages making their next moves. We had some stellar names come in to chat with Tom, like Natalie Portman, Alexander Skarsgård, Geena Davis and Steven Yeun — but it was Thandie Newton who left me in true awe. She was already teasing Tom about having his face on a poster when he is "only on the radio" before they even shook hands. For the next 20 minutes she was raw, honest, hilarious, heartbreaking, and to be honest, a little bit foul mouthed. Then she left as she had entered, in a hurricane-like flurry, leaving us all windswept and giddy. — Catherine Stockhausen, producer

Julia Michaels

I really love pop music. And I don't mean that in some "isn't it fascinating the rhythms that young people are attracted to while they could be listening to Gorky's Zygotic Mynci" or something. I think the talent it takes to make something that can make millions of people interact with it and love it is worth exploring, so I'm really glad on q we've had some chances to talk to the songwriters behind the biggest hits of our time. Julia Michaels has written jams for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5 and Gwen Stefani, among others — and we talked about her taking the risk of writing a few for herself. Julia is a brilliant, instinctual musician and it was a joy to talk songcraft with her. — Tom Power

Safia Nolin​

Safia Nolin's song Igloo (which was a YouTube hit recorded on the floor of her bathroom) really sounds like Quebec in the winter for me, like the anxiety and isolation you feel when snow and storms separate you from your nearest neighbour. Safia has been very open about her struggle with anxiety, and how music is the only thing that has ever made life worth living. I've listened to many interviews with her, but the way she lit up with Tom made this one of my all-time favourites. He made her feel so at ease, joked with her about video games, and they sound like old pals by the end. Her performance was wonderful too. — Saroja Coelho, producer

Nile Rodgers

What a cat. Nile Rodgers is famous for doing Freak Out with Chic, and Get Lucky with Daft Punk, but when you look into his resume you realize he's responsible for pretty much every radio hit in recent memory. We talked working with Madonna and David Bowie, how disco is making a comeback, and when he realized he was a part of creating hip-hop. I'll remember those 40 minutes forever. — Tom Power

Sandra Oh

Representation is a word that we said a lot in 2018, in the countless conversations we had about Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians — so much so that it felt like we had reached a tipping point on the issue. But as much as representation is a big idea, it is also deeply personal. It is deeply personal for me, as a radio producer of colour, and as someone who has struggled to figure out whether there is a place for me in the mainstream media. So you can see why, when Sandra Oh, one of the most successful Asian-Canadian artists working today, says "If you can be who you are, and be doing what you love, just being true to yourself — hopefully people can see themselves in you. They can see themselves reflected, and see the possibility that is hopefully there for them," I felt like she was talking straight to me. In her work, I see the possibility of my own, and her reminder to all the artsy Asian kids out there to not feel guilt over taking the time to pursue their own dreams (instead of chiefly prioritizing their parents') made me feel like I still had time to figure that out for myself. What a gift. — Elaine Chau, producer

The Star Trek, Reading Rainbow and Roots actor tells us why he wants people to take a break from their daily lives and listen to a story on his new podcast LeVar Burton Reads. 23:32

Sharon and Bram

What is there to say except when you get a chance to play Skinnamarink with Sharon and Bram live on the radio, you take it. Also the chords are surprisingly hard! I picked up my guitar to play it and Bram looked at me and said, "It's harder than you think you know." He was right but I think we pulled it off. — Tom Power

Elle Mills

q producer Vanessa Nigro pitched doing an interview with Elle Mills, a young woman from Ottawa who's a rising star in a the world of YouTube streaming. But Elle Mills had a problem: The hectic schedule and expectation that she would share everything in entertaining confessional videos had her burnt out and questioning everything. Weeks after we did this interview, Lily Singh, one of YouTube's biggest stars, said she needed to take a break from the platform for her mental well-being. An important conversation about a huge growth area in entertainment and media. — Austin Webb, senior producer

John Krasinski

So this was meaningful for a few reasons. One, I watch The Office pretty much every day. When you host a show where you read, listen and watch for a living you need something to calm your brain, and The Office is that for me. Two, I watched The Office when I went through a tough family death and I was grateful to get to thank John in person. Three, after being so nervous, I accidentally called him "Jim" and he was so cool and we rolled with it. — Tom Power


You hear a lot of talk about "driveway moments" here in the CBC building. That's the kind of radio that's so riveting you just can't turn it off — so you're willing to sit there in your car, parked in your driveway, listening right through to the end. Last month, people wrote to us from all across the country, telling us that's exactly what they did when they heard Faouzia perform on the show. They used words like "mesmerizing," "unbelievable," "powerful" — one person even commented on YouTube just to say, "I have no words" — all sharing these raw, immediate reactions upon hearing this 18 year old's incredible voice. There's no way I could have predicted that kind of "driveway moment," but here's what I did know: sitting there in the control room, watching Faouzia sing at our piano, I was witnessing a huge moment. I felt the hair stand up on my neck. I got actual goosebumps — even chills. It's an amazing feeling, watching new, bound-for-stardom talent perform live, just before millions more listeners get the chance to hear it. And if you haven't heard it yet, you owe it to yourself to watch her full, spellbinding session below. — Emma Godmere, producer

Issa Rae

You might think with a job like the one that I have I get to go out to a lot of galas, parties, after-parties, hotel lobbies etc. The truth is that stuff freaks me out and always has and I'd rather stay home and eat chips. I thought I was alone in this until I met Issa Rae from Insecure. In addition to being a legitimate genius, we bonded over not going out, and ended up laughing a lot, and then having a really frank talk about what we expect from women (particularly women of colour) in interviews. I was grateful for it and we just had a time. — Tom Power

LeVar Burton

It's hard to choose just one, but if push comes to shove, one of my favourites was when LeVar Burton dropped by the studio. LeVar was a great guest who shared stories about Reading Rainbow, working on Star Trek and Roots; he talked about the power of storytelling, and the importance of representation; and we explored what science fiction can do — all things that we were hoping to cover, and Levar was really giving it with all our questions. Then to wrap up the interview we played LeVar's favourite Joni Mitchell track A Case of You. He was floored. He just had this look of joy mixed with bafflement all at the same time. He ended up staying for the whole song, just sitting in our studio chair, visibly moved. It was a really honest and revealing thing to see, this man so overcome by music. The whole interview really stayed with me. — Ben Edwards, producer


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