Hill takes her passion to TV Land: Sylvie’s Hosting Gig Featured in The Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Citizen – Saturday, September 02, 2006
By: Tony Martins

Sylvie Hill has a motto: Follow what you love and you’ll never get lost.

The passion-first resolve that has helped Hill earn a local profile as a bold writer and candid commentator will be front and centre again when she hosts the second season of Letters: Rediscovering the Art of Courtship, a reality television series co-produced by Ottawa’s General Assembly Production Centre (GAPC) and Calgary’s Corkscrew Media. Shooting begins in late September in Calgary.

“I love entertaining. I love relationships and talking about relationships,” Hill said recently in her usual ebullient tone. Her brash spoken word poetry performances and reliably controversial columns in Ottawa XPress bear testament to that.

“Hosting the show will be next step in an evolution for me, taking me off the printed page and out into the world,” she said.

Although her popular column, called Shotgun, was shelved by Xpress in June as a space-saving measure, Hill continues to write reports for the weekly paper and bears no ill will.

“It was actually an OK time to leave things off,” said the 32-year-old. “I was only doing Shotgun every other week and I felt a desire to learn more, to live more, so that I could write about more things that people could relate to.”

The first season of Letters begins next week on Bravo! (8 p.m., Thursdays) with Toronto literary editor Joy Gugler as host, but the GAPC producer who created the show, Hoda Elatawi, sensed Hill would be a natural fit as the program moved into season two.

“Sylvie is clever and funny and easy to be around,” said Elatawi. “She has a natural warmth that is absolutely critical for this kind of show. And she has a background in both literature and performance.”

Letters follows a group of earnest young men, aged 25 to 40, as they compete to woo a young woman using nothing more than a romantic turn of phrase and good penmanship. In other words: love letters. The young Cyranos never learn the real name of the show’s “Roxanne,” and only one of them gets to meet her – when he emerges as her favourite in the final episode.

In each instalment, the Letters suitors are assigned tasks that reveal precious insights about Roxanne. Later, with coaching and encouragement from Hill, they use what they have learned to compose letters vying for Roxanne’s affection.

Roxanne also deliberates with Hill and bids one unfortunate letter writer adieu at the end of each show.

Yes, love can be cruel, but Hill’s fascination with the interplay of passionate relationships should see her through the demanding role of host.

She views herself as a “conduit” through which the audience will be ushered inside the romance that develops on Letters.

“I’m passionate about finding what somebody needs and putting it out there,” she said, with the conviction that no one will get lost along the way.

The second season of Letters will be broadcast in the latter part of 2007 on ACCESS (in Alberta), Canadian Learning Television and BookTV, followed by another run on Bravo!

– The Ottawa Citizen 2006