While most news journalists question politicians about their political agendas, E! News anchor Giuliana DePandi Rancic realized her desire to report on stories that were "a little too fluffy and fun" when she was in college and asked a Capitol Hill lawmaker how he enjoyed spending his Friday nights.
At the time, DePandi was pursuing her master's degree in journalism at American University in Washington, DC, and working as a features reporter for the university's syndicated television station. She covered a variety of stories related to the White House, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court and the State Department.
While reporting the news, she realized how much she liked telling the human side of the story.
"It all came very naturally to me," shared the 31-year-old DePandi.
That natural tendency may have been what motivated her news bureau editor to suggest giving entertainment reporting a try. Although she admits that, "I just never realized you could make a living off of being an entertainment journalist," DePandi decided to follow his advice. After graduating with her master's degree, she moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the people she was hoping to cover.
However, DePandi admitted, "I didn't understand how this process worked," so she did anything she could to get her foot in the door in the entertainment industry. That included everything from being a mailroom worker to an assistant to an envelope stuffer for a talent agency.
Eventually, DePandi got her opening when she began working as an anchor for Load Media, which was at the time a new entertainment news Web site. Although DePandi knew the gig wouldn't pay much, she said the red carpet experience, and not the money, was what she was after.
"It was when the Internet was booming, and I was able to build a reel on red carpets," she said.
Her reel of red-carpet interviews is what eventually helped DePandi land a freelance reporter position for E! News. Six months later, she was hired as a correspondent in 2002.
"I thought that was it — I had accomplished my dreams," recalled DePandi.
However, three years later, she got an even bigger opportunity when then E! News president Ted Harbert, who had recently been hired, asked DePandi if she wanted to be an anchor. At the time, Harbert was focused on finding a way to improve the program's ratings, and he believed DePandi might be the solution.
"E! News was the lowest-rated (news entertainment) show," recalled DePandi, adding that it was "weeks away" from being canceled in 2005.