‘Entertainment Tonight’ correspondent Rocsi Diaz on philanthropy, fame and feeling at home in Chicago.
Once Rocsi Diaz revs up, there’s no slowing her down. In just over a decade, the intrepid New Orleans native has gone from radio host to weekend co-host and daily correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” interviewing everyone from pop starlets to Michelle Obama. But the 30-year-old Diaz claims she truly cut her teeth in Chicago, where, from 2003 to 2006, she worked as the midday radio DJ of Power 92, covering daily news reports, girl-talk topics and new music. “My listeners in Chicago really got to know me there — it was the best [for] honing my skills,” she says. “I credit a lot to Chicago.”
Though her roots are in radio, Diaz always dreamed of stepping in front of the camera. So in 2006, she left the Midwest after landing a gig as co-host of BET’s music video show “106 & Park” in New York. Six years and dozens of interviews later, she’s a seasoned TV pro, having held her own on camera with Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Harry Styles (to name a few). Now in her second year at “E.T.,” Diaz says she’s still using the skills she fine-tuned during her Power 92 days. “ ‘E.T.’ is great. It’s the mothership of entertainment shows. Everything is constantly changing [with] all the madness that happens in Hollywood,” she says. “But it’s not really hard [to work at a fast pace] because I’m used to it from my radio days. Everything kept moving and you had to keep up.” Her next assignment? Reporting live from the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards on April 13. “It’s my second time covering it,” she says. “I’m really excited.”
And while Hollywood fashion is certainly a focus for Diaz, she’s also adamant about using her high-profile job to help others. In 2009, Diaz publicly admitted to struggling with anorexia during middle and high school, and during a recent “E.T.” segment, she shared her story with a young girl battling the disorder — the girl has since made significant progress in her treatment. Diaz’s philanthropic efforts don’t end there: In Chicago, she started the RocStar Foundation, a charity dedicated to rebuilding schools after disasters. “I chose to work with schools because if you rebuild a school, you rebuild a community,” she explains. On April 5, Diaz’s philanthropic achievements were rewarded: JP Morgan Chase presented her with the Daily Point of Light Award on behalf of former President George H.W. Bush.
Her latest partnership sees her breaking new ground in a different way: In January, she became the first Latina face of a major water brand, teaming up with Aquaçai (water from the Panamanian rainforest). “It’s an amazing synergy. They noticed my charity work and my philanthropic views and they’re the same way, giving back to the city of Panama,” she says.
For all the lives that she’s touched and all the celebs she’s interviewed, Diaz still has moments that stun her. She recalls a career-defining memory from earlier this year at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon: “It was me, Oprah, Sidney Poitier and Gayle King,” she says. “My favorite picture I have is the four of us together. You watch these people your whole life and then to be standing with them. … You have no idea.”
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• “I’m really excited every time I get to sit down with Halle Berry. She says, ‘Hey Rocsi!’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, Halle Berry knows me by first name!’ ”
• “I had a lot of fun with Mark Wahlberg. He’s now like big brother Mark. There’s always a lot of teasing in his interviews.”
• “My top products are Mark lip glosses. I recently got off a campaign with Mark, and they have some great colors for spring.”
• “I love the Kevyn Aucoin concealer. I call it my secret weapon.”
• “I love soul food and good, hearty food, so I would drive all the way to the West Side of Chicago every single week to eat at MacArthur’s [5412 W. Madison, at left]. It’s so amazing.”
• “I would always go to Buddy Guy’s Legends [700 S. Wabash]; it’s one of my favorite hangout blues lounges. I’d get some gumbo and listen to jazz. I was really able to feel at home when I was in Chicago.”