Known for his success hosting Animal Planet’s series, “The Planet’s Funniest Animals,” and Entertainment Magazine’s show, “The List,” Emmy award winner Matt Gallant ties his triumph back to his days at the University of Rhode Island.
Raised in Connecticut, Gallant said he came into college very shy. After graduating in 1986, he said he knew television was what he wanted to do.
“I had a really great experience at Rhody,” said the former Sports Director of the URI campus radio, WRIU. “I studied communication and took marketing courses, I loved my classes and I loved school”
Gallant raved about his time on the radio. Being able to cover basketball and football games for the Rams motivated him to work as an intern at Channel 6 in Providence. Working with former sports anchor Walt Perkins helped Gallant prepare himself for post-graduate employment, as did his time working for “The Letterman Show” and NBC, in New York City, as a page.
“All of the little jobs I did gave me so much advice and were extremely helpful,” said Gallant. “They taught me what I wanted to be and who I wanted to be like. I knew that I would have to work hard and pay my dues by watching and learning.”
Gallant headed out to California after landing numerous roles in smaller projects, including different television ads and appearances on soap operas. In Los Angeles, Gallant found work for MTV and reporting for ESPN networks.
The former Rhody Ram shared that one of the biggest challenges of working in the entertainment industry is, “being able to navigate the ups and downs, particularly in television.”
Gallant described all the highs he experienced in his career, like working with Animal Planet for five years, being featured on Primetime TV, and getting gigs with ABC. Gallant also recounted feelings of defeat after being fired from Simon Cowell’s “American Inventor” simply because Cowell, “wanted a clean house and new start.”
“Some of the biggest challenges you will face is that people are going to say no and not believe in you,” said Gallant. “If you don’t believe in yourself and you are not prepared, what is the point? We all make mistakes. It is your chance to take that opportunity, trust yourself and learn from it.”
In addition to hosting several shows and occasionally doing small roles, recently Gallant has been working as a producer for some behind the scenes roles, and said that he has learned that the media market out in California is diversifying now more than ever.
Gallant said that pitching show ideas and concepts is a totally different game than being on the camera, adding that, “it’s really cool to be able to use your own creative control.”
Adding to his resume, Gallant will be the face of a new digital channel called “The Unicorn Network,” which is broadcast exclusively on YouTube.
“It will be a chance for people to develop their own user content, but then receive professional feedback and editing before being published,” said the Emmy-Award winner. “It’s helping get content out there; getting more views and recognition.”
When he is not working on television assignments or travel documentaries, Gallant donates his time volunteering with the Make-A-Wish foundation. He is looking forward to holding his fundraiser, “Matt Gallant’s Bowling for Wishes.” The event will raise funds for children with life-threatening conditions. The University recognized Gallant for his successful career and passion to give back when he was chosen as the Commencement Speaker in 2004.
“It’s in the top five best things that I’ve ever done! Being such an important time of my life, I wanted it to be inspirational and fun,” says Gallant. “Despite doing live broadcasts, being in parades and several other events; I was so nervous.”
Despite spending much of his time in the entertainment realm, Gallant, a New Englander at heart, is rooting for the Patriots this Sunday.
“Let’s go Pats! I am a little nervous, Atlanta has a really strong offense,” said Gallant. “But Tommy, he is the best quarterback ever. I think it will be a good game.”
Overall, Gallant made it explicit that he had such a great experience attending the University of Rhode Island. He expressed the importance of working hard and always trying your best, because the entertainment and media business is a tough competition.
“Enjoy your years at Rhody, have fun! It is the time of your life that you will not get back.”