Born in Haiti in 1968, Herby Moreau has a list of accomplishments that would be most people’s dream, but at the end of all this, what remains is something that is so simple and essential: his love for his mother and son. This has mellowed, softened, and made him stronger and more direct, both at the same time.
In 2002, Herby was invited to the Oscars® where he interviewed (among others) Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. However, it was the moment when he was invited on stage (by his suggestion) to touch the Honorary Oscar® of Sydney Poiter, that he was literally “among the stars”. Since then, Herby has been hosting the Star Academie show with Julie Belanger.
When KA decided to do the best of Montreal men, we knew that with Herby, we were without a doubt, interviewing the best in Montreal. Someone who not only excelled in his craft, but also had and kept a very clear love for Montreal and the culture that he has helped to create, and still promotes globally.
KA — Herby, I have known you for about 13 years, and you always remained constant. What keeps you so centered?
HM — I remember when I was about 18 and I was listening to the song from the Pet Shop Boys “We were never being boring” — I loved that song — I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to arrive at 40 and be nostalgic about the song, and life for that matter. I wanted to always stay 18. I don’t think I grew up actually. When we are young, we seem to constantly think that life will be lived “later” — when actually, it’s now – right now. And that’s what I do with my work, I’m constantly looking to create that moment — the one that people will remember. I always ask myself : What will they talk about at work tomorrow, in front of the xerox machine?
KA — You knew from day 1 that you wanted to be in journalism, media and tv. What was the click?
HM — I’m a very curious person — always digging to get the info… I need to know! I think that in this field, curiosity is a must — and it seems to just be apart of my DNA. I just love the very first moment when you meet someone, you never know what to expect, there’s a tension and an anticipation that cannot be replaced. And when you meet, you feel that first transfer of energy. It’s like a dance, you have to adapt to the other person. I call it : “the art of seduction” — My goal is always, if we start an interview and you have your arms crossed, that by the end of it, you will have fully opened up!
KA — How did your experience in Paris affect your career?
HM — You have to go to Paris if you’re as curious as I am to explore and learn about different cultures! I love to speak French and there, it just felt like a second home. It was the 90’s when I went, and it was great to be an “immigrant” in Paris, and being Black — was a plus! They just saw me as the “American Dream” —a young black “American” coming to Paris was simply a treat for them, they wanted to know all about me. As I studied journalism there, I landed my first few television jobs. When I finished my studies in Paris, I told my parents I wanted to stay there and explore my career in France. They basically “cut the cord” and left me 1,000$ and that was it. So, I set out to conquer, and didn’t take no for an answer. I was 25 years old, and hungry for success. Passion was the key. I live everyday since then with passion.
KA — How do you create positive from the word “No”?
HM — I look at it this way: If you don’t ask, it will always be no. So what do you have to loose…?
KA — What motivates you?
HM — To surprise myself in my line of work — I love it. For example, a while ago I was hosting le Gala des Arts and watched it afterwards. (I rarely do this…) By watching it, I saw exactly what I had done that made the show so successful. It’s being able to create an organic flow live, that makes magic! — and watching this did surprise me. I constantly strive to create magic.
KA — When do you experience the most joy?
HM — It has to be with my son, when I’m around him — smiling and laughing.
KA — What single event has caused the most change in your reality?
HM — When I was 33, I developed a condition where the bones in my neck became very weak — and the pain was so strong, like having a hernia so big it touched your spine. I had to have two bone transplants in my neck. Going to the hospital for this kind of operation is a bit dramatic — they put you to sleep and you really don’t know if you will wake up. So since then, I have been supporting the Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation. I invest all the energy that I can on this cause — and of course any other cause that affects children is also incredibly close to my heart.
KA — So many people audition for your show — Star Academie, they are just as scared, excited and green as you once were. How do you reconcile with being a role model for so many young aspiring artists?
HM — I don’t really think about being a role model. My main criteria is “If my mom sees this, will she be proud of me?” The first person to call me after a show is still my mom, and I love her for it. She’s my bar!
KA — Make a wish, what would it be?
HM — It comes back to my son. I want him to find that same passion that makes it effortless to live life. I want him to find his joy, because I see so many people everyday that have still not found it. I want him to be “a fish in water” in the path that he chooses. I want him to always be optimistic and enthusiastic about his life, to always see the glass half full.
KA — After all these years of pushing — where are you at?
HM — I find that I am at a point where I am starting to taste the fruit from the seeds I planted way back. I just want to share this joy with the people around me that fully understand where this fruit came from.
KA — With so much going on — how do you stay in the “now”?
HM — I surround myself with people who are young at heart, people who think “now”. It’s not about doing things that are “hip in the moment” — it’s about creating longevity and living right now. And tomorrow, will be “now” too!