ET host and actor Cameron Mathison dishes on Hollywood, home and the scariest part of it all.
By Rachel Naud
WATCH CAMERON MATHISON in action and his joie de vivre is incomparable. Whether you know him as Ryan Lavery on All My Children, a competitor on Dancing with the Stars, Bill on Hot in Cleveland or as himself on Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, it’s clear Mathison embraces every professional opportunity with vigor, happiness and excitement.
The Canadian-born actor and television host dives into new projects with enthusiasm—whether he’s renovating his house with his family on the web series Cameron’s House Rules or solving mysteries in the made-for-TV Hallmark Movies and Mysteries “Murder,She Baked” series—his passion for his career is sparked as much by the need to stay busy as it is showing his children the importance of working hard and chasing your dreams.
“I really push myself and get myself in situations where I’m forced to do my best,” says Mathison. “I try to keep going because I also think that’s good for my kids to see. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of work, a lot of commitment and a lot of drive to be successful.”
Despite the varied jobs he holds on air, Mathison’s favourite role is that of a family man. He’s been married to his wife, Vanessa,for 14 years and together they are raising their children Leila, 10, and Lucas, 13, in Los Angeles.
INBETWEEN sat down with Mathison to talk about his role on ET, staying hands-on at home and his biggest challenge yet—raising teens.
SWITCHING IT UP
It’s little surprise with such a varied career that Mathison says one of his favourite aspects of being a co-host for Entertainment Tonight is the diversity in it.
“I love that everyday is different,” he says. “I love that everyday I’m learning new things. Everyday in the studio, I’m hanging with the best of the best. It’s an amazing place. It’s awe-inspiring. It’s wild how much we cover and
how much news we’re ahead of.”
Another perk to his job—it scores him some serious cool cred with his kids.
“I have introduced my son to some Star Wars actors. That was cool,” he laughs. “I also got One Direction’s autograph for my daughter.”
Mathison says he was the fun parent when the kids were younger—the kind of dad that played games, chased them around the house and transformed everyday occurrences into an at-home amusement park.
Now that the kids are a tween and teen, respectively,Mathison says he’s still a fun dad, albeit he sees a shift in his role.
“They don’t really want me around as much,” he says. “But, my daughter still calls me at work and asks when I’m coming home so I can bounce on the trampoline with her and her friends. I still add some fun but, at the same time, relationships are changing as they get a little bit older. I have less time and less energy for that and I think they
want less of it as well. But we still have so much fun together.”
As a kid growing up in Thornhill, Ontario, Mathison loved and respected his parents—a value he is passing on to his own children.
“It’s very important to me that my family feels loved, respected and taken care of,” he says. “I had that as a kid and I knew that no matter what I got myself into—and I got myself into some pretty crazy situations—that my mom and my dad would be there for me and help me. I want to give that same sense of comfort and security that I got as a kid to my kids.”
And, as his children enter the often-tumultuous stage of the teenage years, Mathison says this is more important than ever.
“I think it’s an important time because you learn so much in the teenage years. You’re going through so many changes and experiences that you’re not used to and it’s good to have someone there who’s been through it to hopefully guide you and give you advice,” he says. “They’re not always going to listen to me, and I’m sure sometimes I get annoying, but I do it as casual and cool as I possibly can and as humbly as I can so it’s not preachy. I really try to talk to my kids from experience and not from somebody who’s a perfect father. Just from somebody who lived life and made mistakes and be someone they can learn from.”
THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER; STAYS TOGETHER
Another thing Mathison is passing on to his children is the importance of health and fitness. In fact, the family often keeps busy swimming, hiking, surfing or skiing together.
“We definitely expose our kids to a lot of sports and activities but we don’t force them,” he says. “We don’t make them do an organized sport but we make them do something active—even if it’s just being out in the field or going to
the beach or riding their bikes.”
Mathison, who says fitness plays a big role in his own life, strives to lead by example in order to teach his kids about the importance of being healthy.
“I lead by example because that whole ‘do as I say, not as I do’ thing doesn’t work very well.
As busy as I am, I get up super early to swim a mile or whatever I do to try and stay fit. It’s such an important thing for longevity and life, but, for sure, there are distractions we all fall victim to. Just getting outside to play is more of an effort now than it was when I was a kid.”
Two such distractions: video games and social media.
“My son has video games that he likes to play, but the rule is however much time he’s active, he can play on his video games. So if he can go out and ride his bike for 30 minutes, he can spend 30 minutes on a video game or whatever. I just came up with that myself so I don’t know if it’s good parenting or not but it seems kind of fair.”
While Mathison says he tries to put parameters on his kids’ social media and digital lives, he admits that aspect of teenage life is a scary one.
“I guess what scares me the most is that they will lose their innocence too quickly,” he says. “One of my main concerns is about what could happen on the Internet and on their phones. Facebook, social media, and whatever
else there is online are scary for me because it’s a big deal for tweens and teens. It’s a bit of an unknown that you can’t really control or monitor. We have rules with being on devices in our house and we’re all on the same iCloud account so that helps with being able to do that.”
Another big fear for Mathison: missing it all.
“With being so busy at work, I’m afraid I’ll miss it and it’ll kind of just go so quickly, you know? I make a serious commitment to being involved as much as I possibly can but, with that said, I’m always going to miss things when you’re as busy as I have been lately. I guess that’s a little bit scary for me too.”
Despite venturing into this unpredictable phase of parenting, Mathison says he’s still looking forward to what’s to come.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how much they develop and seeing their interests blossoming,” he says. “I love watching their independence develop and seeing how it manifests. I’m already witnessing my son getting more
freedom at 13 and watching how he uses it. I guess that’s what I’m looking forward to most. Just watching their interests develop and their independence grow.” ■
TUNE IN: Watch Cameron Mathison on Entertainment Tonight on CBS. Please check your local listings.