- Film & TV
- 27 Jul 19
Cassie Stokes is one of the hottest properties in Irish television. Her natural confidence in front of the camera has already won her considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic – but a career in media wasn’t always on the cards for gay icon.
“When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she laughs. “It wasn’t very realistic because I’m not that good at science, and I hate being in the water. Honestly, I think that learning too much about sharks when I was a kid put me off the sea for life.”
Thankfully, when she veered away from marine biology, she channelled her creativity and passion for chatting into forging a career in television. She appeared on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne, on 3e’s FYI and co-hosted Entertainment Tonight Canada over in Toronto. Since 2016, however, she’s been lighting up our television lives on Virgin Media One’s Xposé.
“Meeting people is definitely my favourite part of the job,” she says. “I’d work in anything if it would let me talk to people all day. Of course, meeting celebrities is loads of fun, but it’s also nice and challenging. I love not knowing how a conversation is going to go.”
The celebrities she’s found herself mingling with over the years include such A-Listers as Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal and Helen Mirren. She interviewed the Academy Award-winning grand dame of British film earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival.
“That was pretty crazy,” she admits. “Everyone was like, ‘Were you not nervous?’ Of course I was nervous! Am I not human? But I love those exciting challenges. Helen Mirren was sensational – and she had a tattoo! Honestly my life was made in that moment.”
Cassie was actually born in Canada and lived there from 2012 to 2016 before moving back to Dublin. It’s clear that her love affair with Dublin is stronger now than ever.
“When I lived away, I really missed seeing people I know every time I walk around Dublin,” she recalls. “I love the familiarity of it, and how a day can turn into a night very quickly if you run into the wrong –or maybe the right! – people on Fade Street.”
A self-professed foodie, she takes serious pride in how the city’s restaurant scene has blossomed in recent years.
“There are restaurants opening up everywhere,” she enthuses. “One of my favourites places to eat right now is Host in Ranelagh. They do incredible food. The hostess, Chloe, is also the owner, and her husband is the head chef. You really get the sense that it’s a family restaurant with a modern twist.
“For drinks in Dublin, it’s hard to beat Grogan’s. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are life-changing! The place is packed from 11am, so you have to get there early. There’s also an amazing new pub that’s opened up in Smithfield, called Bonobo, with a massive patio – which would be great if we had the sun to justify it!”
It comes as no surprise that the Xposé host loves her style – and the capital has no shortage of spots to satisfy her shopping itch.
“The way I see it, fashion’s mostly about finding something that works for you and makes you feel comfortable,” she explains. “I like dressing well, and my fashion is evolving all the time. I pop in and out of the usual spots, places like Zara, H&M and Topshop, as well as boutiques like Siopaella. I’m a big fan of runners too, so I go to Size? on Wicklow Street a lot. It’s completely acceptable to wear runners anywhere you go now. I love that.”
A Dubliner through and through, Cassie claims that there’s no better way to unwind than by roaming the city streets.
“My favourite 100-metre stretch is between Fade Street and Grogan’s,” she laughs. “You’d probably find me walking, or sitting, along there most of the weekend.
“I also love the area around the Guinness Storehouse and the little train tracks that run through the street. My great-granddad and my granddad worked there, so it has a special family connection. The Storehouse has to be my favourite building in Dublin. They’ve really managed to bring a modern twist to such incredible history.” Cassie will also be taking to the streets of Dublin to mark Pride this year. Since taking her position on Xposé, she has been refreshingly open about her sexuality.
“I didn’t really realise I was gay for a while. And when I did realise, the first thing I wanted to do was to be completely open about it,” she explains. “I had a Pride party for my cousins and their kids in my garden last year, so I’m hoping to do that again. Later on in the day, I’ll head into town and see a bit of the parade. It’s lovely to mark Pride, in any way at all. Everyone on the street is just so happy.”
Cassie has also publicly discussed her struggles with anxiety, and recently appeared on Caroline Foran’s hugely popular Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast.
“It was kind of funny doing the podcast,” she reflects, “because I hadn’t talked about some of those things that gave me anxiety in so long. I used to be terrified to walk down the street in case people saw me. Now I’m a presenter, and I’d never get anxiety when I’m in front of the camera.
“I got some lovely messages from people who related to what I was talking about on the podcast. I’m thrilled that people who have anxiety, or are gay, appreciate that I’m being open about these issues. But at the end of the day, I’m really just trying to be me.”
• Xposé airs on Virgin Media One at 6pm on Fridays.