Interview: Talk Stoop’s Cat Greenleaf keeps it simple – sort of

Cat Greenleaf, host of the NBC show, “Talk Stoop,” likes to keep it simple. The camera stays out of the way giving viewers an intimate, fly-on-the-wall perspective.

Her celebrity guests sip drinks as they sit with Cat and her dog, Gracie, on her cracked Brooklyn stoop, hence the name (also a play on E’s “Talk Soup”).

The life that Cat has built up around her allows her to combine her work and home life. It’s the kind of life many dream of. Imagine being so comfortable with your lot in life that the universe can’t help but wave back throughout your day.

Neighbors stop and talk; drivers slow down to say hi. One person even brought treats for Cat’s co-host, bulldog Gracie, while I sat on the stoop with the two of them for an hour a couple of weeks ago.

It was a winding road that brought her here. Before the stoop she was a traffic reporter with no sense of direction. She was a bored mall reporter and a hard news reporter who couldn’t resist cracking jokes in hard luck stories.

How did she find her way?

“Always keep moving,” she said.

The simplicity of the answer is right in line with her MO. When telling her own story she is self-deprecating. But when she stops to think about it, the truth is, she works hard.

“It's funny. I often talk about my career like, “Isn't it amazing – that it just happened?” because I think that. But then my friends remind me, “Girl, you used to work 20 hours a day. You used to work back-to- back traffic shifts and then stay up all night doing feature pieces.” I forget those days because I enjoyed it. From the minute I got into broadcast I enjoyed every second of it,” said Cat. “I didn't feel like it was work.”

Her work feels important. Broadcasting into the lives of many and trying to touch their hearts brings with it a lot of responsibility, she says, and she wants to do it right.

“I try not to ask questions that I already know the answer to. I want to ask real questions to get real answers,” she says.

She tries to avoid getting the stock answers from stars about their latest movies, albums, or shows. She is looking to get their wheels spinning for a more considered answer.

The first three guests on “Talk Stoop” were a friend, a plumber, and her mother. Then she bumped into Rosie Perez at a benefit.

She approached Perez and said, “I know you live in my neighborhood. Do you want to come sit on my show? I'm start- ing this show called ‘Talk Stoop.’”

Perez said yes. Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee followed and “one publicist begets another publicist and the next thing you know you have a celebrity interview show.”

She looks for people who are interesting, people who have a story to tell, even if they are not necessarily the biggest stars — people who have had a lot of life experiences.

Interviewees meet Cat at her home, come in and meet her family, get a drink, and then head out and sit on her steps for a conversation. There are no lights, no set, and the audience consists only of passersby.

This is where the universe finds her in the midst of a path that may have looked bumpy and winding from time to time. Nonetheless, she made her way back home, working all the while on finding her niche, making headway through sheer motion.

“If you don't know what it is that you want to be doing, keep figuring out what it is you don't want to do, and the only way to do that is to keep trying stuff. If you think you're gonna like it, think you're gonna be good at it, try it, and if you find out you don't like it or you're not good at it, try something else. It's so hard to know what you want when you don't even know what there is to want. It's much easier to know what you don't want, and sooner or later, you're gonna narrow it down to figure out what it is that you do want or that you excel at or thrive at. That's the only way.”

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