Remember These MTV VJs? Here’s What They’re Doing Now
Cast your mind back a couple of decades, to where the music was huge and MTV was king. Weren’t those the days? Before MTV was launched in 1981, we had to listen to the radio to hear the bands we love, but music videos were a game-changer.
While MTV is still the go-to place for many to watch music vids, video jockeys – affectionately known as VJs – are a thing of the past. No more TRL, no more Headbangers Ball. Sniff. Join us as we revisit some former faces of the network to see what they’re up to now.
The ‘Countdown’ Starts With Adam Curry
With his long blonde locks and distinctive presenting style, Adam Curry rose to fame as the host of Headbangers Ball and MTV’s Top 20 Video Countdown in 1987. You couldn’t get more ’80s than this guy. Although he wasn’t with the network as long as some (he left in the early ’90s) he still managed to make a mark.
Curry was the one who got MTV online, giving them their first website and digital presence. Now 54, Curry has been heavily involved in podcasting, with some calling him one of the founding fathers of the medium. He tied the knot with his partner Tina Snider in 2018.
Alison Stewart Is Still Reporting
Alison Stewart climbed aboard the good ship MTV as a news correspondent in 1991. Apart from showcasing some seriously chic ’90s looks, Stewart reported on serious topics like the 1992 presidential election. MTV was just a rung on the ladder for Stewart, who went on to work for CBS NeWS.
As of 2018, Alison has hosted All of It with Alison Stewart on New York City Public Radio Station WYNC. According to her Wikipedia page, the show focuses on trending topics and culture. Prior to her work in radio, Stewart could be seen on PBS as a special correspondent for NewsHour Weekend and Charlie Rose.
Motherhood Suits Ananda Lewis
Viewers loved Ananda Lewis, and so did MTV. Her smart and sassy presenting style steering the network in a new direction, prompting them to make more space for live TV. After leaving MTV in 2001, Lewis hosted her own talk show, focusing on hard-hitting subjects like domestic violence and breast cancer.
Lewis has maintained a relatively low-profile since the mid-noughts, with her last credit listed as 2010. She gave birth to a boy in 2011 and is currently living in San Fernando Valley. Interestingly, the former VJ was a good friend of the late singer Aaliyah, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2001.
Bill Bellamy Turned To Acting
If you grew up in the ’90s, then Bill Bellamy was probably the face you saw the most on your TV screen. This slick presenter hosted MTV Jamz and MTV Beach House to great acclaim. After a few years at the helm of these shows, he decided to pursue acting.
He landed a part as the voice of Cousin Skeeter in the Nickelodeon show of the same name and also guest starred on The Jamie Foxx Show. His last notable role was as FBI Agent Sanders in Kindergarten Cop 2 in 2012. Bellamy has been married to Kristen Baker since 2001.
You Probably Recognize Carson Daly
Carson Daly was the heartthrob of MTV. He was so synonymous with the network thanks to his tenure on TRL that even Eminem gave him a shout out in “My Name Is”. Girls – and boys – across the world wanted to cozy up to Daly on that couch.
After the show ended in 2003, Daly hosted his own show Last Call with Carson Daly. NBC announced the show’s retirement in 2019. More recently, Daly’s known for his role as host and executive producer of NBC’s reality show The Voice. Out of all of MTV’s alum, Daly is arguably one of the most famous – and still relevant.
Daisy Fuentes Is Raking It In
Daisy Fuentes turned heads as the first Latina MTV VJ, and for good reason. When she joined the network in 1988, she brought some much-needed warmth to the world of music television. Daisy enjoyed great success as a model after leaving, becoming the spokesperson for brands like Revlon, Pantene, and American Express.
Her various ranges, from workout games to clothes and beauty products, make her about $300 million a year. These days, you can catch her running her business empire and co-presenting La Voz Kids on Telemundo (the Spanish version of The Voice Kids) and giving relationship advice on the Fantasy Focus podcast with Matthew Berry.
Damien Fahey Almost Became The Host Of A Late Night Show
When Carson Daly left TRL in 2002, MTV knew they had to find the perfect host. Luckily for them, Damien Fahey was available and stepped up to the plate, going on to host the show for four years.
Fahey was always quick-witted and clever, so it’s no surprise that he’s turned his hand to writing. You can catch his name on the credits of Family Guy. These days he likes to keep off-screen and enjoys working with comedic mastermind Seth MacFarlane. When Craig Kilborn left The Late Late Show, Fahey was in the running to take over, but lost out to James Cordon.
Dave Holmes Is A Music Genius
Dave Holmes (far right) struck it big when he competed in MTV’s first Wanna Be a VJ competition in 1998. He knew so much about music that it blew MTV execs out of the water, landing him a role on the news team even though he didn’t win the contest.
He hosted several shows on the network before leaving in 2002. Since 2015, Holmes has been an editor at large for Esquire and also hosts the podcast Homophilia. The podcast focuses on LGBTQ issues and has received high praise from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, who called it “thoughtful and charming”.
Downtown Julie Brown Has Been All Over The Place
One of the original VJ’s, there’s no one quite like Downtown Julie Brown. Brown hosted Club MTV for seven years before calling it quits in 1992 to work for ESPN and E! Entertainment. Five years later, she bared all in Playboy.
Brown also made an appearance in several TV shows and movies, including Texas Ranger, Hey, Arnold!, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!, The Dog Whisperer and 2013’s Wife Swap. Currently, the London-born star hosts The Back in The Day Replay Countdown on SiriusXM channel ’90s on 9. She lives with her husband Martin Schuermann and their daughter in Marina del Rey, California.
Hilarie Burton Is Still Making News
Who could forget those curls? Hilarie Burton was scouted by MTV while walking around her college campus. After a brief audition, she was given the job of a lifetime co-hosting TRL. A few years later and she landed a starring role in beloved teen drama One Tree Hill.
Now married to The Walking Dead actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan and mom to two kids, Burton continues to act. She hit the headlines in 2017 when a clip from TRL resurfaced showing Ben Affleck touching her inappropriately. Affleck apologized despite maintaining he didn’t remember the incident, with Burton expressing how uncomfortable it made her feel.
John Norris Was A VJ For Over A Decade
Nope, that’s not Kevin Bacon, although they do look strikingly similar. John Norris joined MTV in 1996 as part of the news team, going on to cover pretty much everything you can think of from elections to the music festival circuit.
As one of MTV’s longest running VJs (Norris spent over a decade with the network) he’s one of the most recognizable faces. After leaving in the mid-noughts, Norris spent a lot of time freelancing for some impressive magazines and online outlets. He’s been the supervising producer of Fuse News since 2013, making ad-hoc appearances as a correspondent on screen.
Jesse Camp: Blast From The Past
You may remember Jesse Camp as the VJ everyone loved to hate, but that’s what made him so special. Camp won the Wanna Be a VJ competition in 1998, securing a two-week contract with MTV. When it went well, his contract was extended to a year before Camp left to pursue a career in music.
His album didn’t exactly go down a storm with the critics, with some calling it “grating” just like Camp himself. Surprisingly, Camp managed to secure duets with the likes of Fleetwood Mac alum Stevie Nicks and even Marky Ramone. Despite his fame, it was fleeting and Camp keeps a low profile these days.
What’s Kennedy Up To?
Bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden have a lot to thank Kennedy for. From 1992 to 1997 she hosted Alternative Nation, a program designed purely to give alt music a much-needed platform on the network. After leaving MTV, she released her first book and went on to work for Fox News.
Kennedy still remains very active in her field, having hosted her own show and contributed to several others. The 46-year-old is married to former professional snowboarder Dave Lee, with whom she shares two daughters. Before tying the knot with Lee, she briefly dated John Rzeznik, frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls.
Ooh La La, La La Vasquez
La La Vasquez was an MTV staple in the early noughts, appearing on TRL and hip-hop show Direct Effect. Despite her success, she didn’t stick around for long and left after two years to start her own production company, Krossover Productions.
Her credits include Mike Tyson’s documentary Tyson and The Gun. La La pursued acting too, starring in a series of movies and off-broadway shows. Her engagement to pro-basketball player Carmelo Anthony also spawned a five-season VH1 reality show called La La’s Full Court Wedding, which was one of the network’s highest rated shows at the time. Vasquez is also a New York Times Bestselling Author.
Riki Rachtman Has Had An Interesting Career
You might best remember Ricki Rachtman for his tattooed arms and long, flowing hair. Rachtman took over from Adam Curry when he left Headbangers Ball in 1990, hosting the show for five years. After waving goodbye to MTV, he moved over to WWE, taking a job interviewing wrestlers backstage.
Rachtman has done plenty with the last few years. As well as owning a skateboard company, he became an ordained minister in 2015. Prior to this, he hosted the reunion show for the Bret Michaels VH1 series Rock of Love. Rachtman is dating Lea Vendetta, star of Inkmaster. They live in Mooresville, North Carolina.
Simon Rex’s Post-MTV Work Is Tame Compared To What He Did Before Joining The Network
Simon Rex started out acting in adult films before landing a role as a VJ in 1995. He stayed on the network for two years before setting his sights on acting. Rex appeared in several TV shows, including Jack & Jill, Felicity, Baywatch, and Everwood, but is best known for his work in Scary Movie 3, 4 & 5.
As well as acting, Rex has released music under the name Dirt Nasty, including work with supergroup Three Loco. From 2006-2009 the San Francisco native co-owned The Plumm, a New York City bar with Noel Ashman, Chris Noth and Samantha Ronson, sister of Mark Ronson.
Steve Isaacs Caught The Attention Of A Famous Rock Star
Steve Isaacs was the poster boy for ’90s cool. Hosting the Top 20 Video Countdown and Hangin’ With MTV, Steve became somewhat of a pin-up. He left MTV to get behind the mic himself, landing one of the lead roles in The Who’s Tommy on Broadway.
After moving to Los Angeles, Isaacs formed Sycyle, who then signed to MCA records. Just before their debut album was about to drop, the label pulled out of the deal. Steve went on to work as a web designer, performing in solo acoustic shows as a hobby. Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction spotted Isaacs and invited him to form The Panic Channel. Capitol Records signed them in 2005, but they only released a single album.
Tyrese Was A Musician Even Before He Became A VJ
You might have noticed that many VJs go on to pursue a career in music, but Tyrese had already been there and done that before he signed on with MTV. By the age of 19, he had already released an album with RCA Records. He hosted MTV Jams in 1998 before continuing with his music career.
He also managed to charm casting agents with his talent and has since acted in Transformers, The Fast and the Furious franchise, Four Brothers alongside Mark Wahlberg, and Death Race opposite Jason Statham. Tyrese married his second wife, Samantha Lee, on Valentine’s Day in 2017. They welcomed their daughter in October of 2018.
The Lovely Vanessa Minnillo
Vanessa Minnillo was hired by MTV bosses after Carson Daly left TRL in 2003 as part of their plan to keep viewers engaged. Minnillo was popular, staying with the network for four years before going on to pastures new.
The former Miss Teen USA joined Entertainment Tonight in 2005 as their New York City correspondent and has hosted Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe in the past. Vanessa met the singer Nick Lacey in 2006 when she appeared in his music video. The pair tied the knot in 2011 at Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island. They have three children.
You Still See Serena Altschul Everywhere
Serena Altschul is another serious news personality that cut her teeth working for MTV in the late 90s. Altschul flitted between covering current affairs and hosting TRL before MTV gave her the lead spot on the documentary series True Life.
Altschul left MTV to join CNN, who named her a contributing correspondent. Since 2013, she has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning. The movies Queen of the Damned and Josie and the Pussycats feature Altschul appearing as herself, proving what a television staple she was at that time. Now 48 years old, it doesn’t look like Serena is going to be off-screen any time soon.