Cheryl Hickey has spent much of her over 25 year journalism career in front of the camera, sharing her cheery grin and bright personality with television audiences across the country. However, equally as important to the longtime Entertainment Tonight Canada host is her work behind the scenes, making an impact with local charities and creating meaningful changes to reduce her family’s ecological footprint.
Born in a very small town called Shallow Lake, located in the Georgian Bluffs township of southwestern Ontario, and later moving to Owen Sound, Hickey began her broadcasting career as a teenager under the guidance of her dad who knew she had a gift for talking to people.
“He took me to the local cable news station to do a tour. I saw all the possible jobs that I could do within that industry, and I was fascinated by it,” says Hickey, who already looked up to iconic female broadcasters like Oprah and Barbara Walters. “I realized this could be a really great avenue for me.” And it was. After college, she went straight into broadcasting, working as a camera person, writer, and producer at a small station in Barrie, Ontario. From there, it was a job offer in Toronto that changed her life forever.
“I had never even driven in Toronto let alone worked here! It was a shock to say the least, but I went on to become the first woman in Canada to shoot, report, and switch from a helicopter,” she recalls. In 2004, Hickey changed to the news beat she’s best known for when Entertainment Tonight Canada, the country’s most trusted outlet for celebrity news, launched. Among highlights of her 15 seasons as host of ET Canada, Hickey cites the meaningful conversations she’s had with prominent women, including Oprah, Julianne Moore, and Celine Dion.
As if hosting Entertainment Tonight Canada doesn’t keep her busy enough, Hickey is excited to be the host of a brand-new home renovation series called Family Home Overhaul, which brings together 14 of HGTV Canada’s top contractors and designers to transform the homes of eight inspirational families nominated by their communities. “It’s just one of those shows that touches your heart and soul, and I think it’s something that Canadians really need to see right now. I think people are going to fall in love with it,” she says.
Hickey is also relaunching her personal brand, Cheryl’s Home and Family, an offering of products for home plus a digital community that uses blogs, vlogs, and social media to have real conversations about embracing challenges and opportunities in our busy lives.
“It’s a company so close to my heart, as it’s something I can collaborate on with my sister, and I have some incredible business partners,” says Hickey. “We’re really excited about creating products for the multigenerational family,” she says, noting that the website, which was relaunched this spring, will soon release nine new products for seniors, infants, kids, and pets. “In addition to our products, we are having important conversations around family,” she says. A YouTube series, which premiered in March, discusses topics like internet safety for kids and how to have difficult conversations about end-of-life decisions with elderly loved ones.
“I’m really proud of Cheryl’s Home and Family. I think it’s going to be a way for me to be a part of people’s homes in a way I have never been before,” says Hickey. “Every night for the past 15 seasons I’ve been in people’s homes every night on ET Canada, but now I get to be there in a different way, talking about the most important thing — family,” she says.
Hickey knows a lot about juggling career and family. She’s mom to 10-year-old Jaxson and 7-year-old Nyla. Along with husband Kevin Foley, she prioritizes showing her children how to make smarter choices in their daily lives that have positive impacts on the world around them.
“Something we have done as a family is eliminate single-use plastics from our household,” says Hickey. “We also make the choice to shop organic. Organic food isn’t only healthier, but it also keeps harmful pesticides out of our land and our water. We work to keep a more green household by using energy-saving lightbulbs and using a programmable thermostat to cut down on everyday use,” she says.
By making these changes in her family’s day-to-day-life, Hickey is also offering her children teachable moments on issues of sustainability and climate change while showing them that every person, no matter their age, can make a difference.
“Learning about the effects of climate change can often feel overwhelming, but it’s important for people to remember that we can all make meaningful changes each and every day to reduce our ecological footprint.” A great way to start, she says, is by educating children on the importance of water conservation, teaching them to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth and taking short showers in lieu of a bath.
“From a young age, children are taught the importance of recycling whether it’s glass bottles or cans, but recycling can easily be expanded to include other household items as well,” says Hickey. “Instead of simply throwing out old clothes when they no longer fit, donate, sell, or give away your unwanted items and purchase with long-lasting quality items in mind.”
Among her advice to MarQuee Magazine readers hoping to make meaningful changes toward living a more sustainable life, Hickey recommends starting by taking small steps, including choosing to walk instead of taking the car. “Small daily changes like these can help the planet while also leading to living a healthier life,” she says.
Giving back to the world around her doesn’t end with contributions she’s making at home. Philanthropy has always played a critical role in Hickey’s life. She’s been involved with charitable organizations including The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Plan International Canada, and the Baycrest Foundation, which provides crucial funding to Baycrest Health Sciences, a research and teaching hospital in North York, Ontario. In 2010, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, she co-hosted a relief concert, Canada For Haiti, along with Ben Mulroney and George Strombolopolous. The experience was one of the most powerful of her career.
While Hickey’s work in the community inspires others, she’s inspired by the women in her own life, including her mom and sister, her girlfriends, and the strong, bold, and multifaceted Canadian women in the media industry. “Women like Tracy Moore!” she says of her “dear friend” and co-MarQuee Magazine cover star. “She’s such an incredible entrepreneur. So many people have so much to learn from her,” she says. “She’s an incredible Canadian woman. Her heart is just so big.”
For Hickey, family always comes first. “I know when they are well taken care of, I can branch out and do what I need to do,” she says, noting that having a “fantastically supportive” husband makes things easier. “It’s about carving out a schedule and having good communication,” she says. “I find by doing this, the rest of my life is able to fall into place.”
And everything is falling into place. With a new show and Cheryl’s Home and Family ready to launch, 2020 is shaping up to be a monumental year for Hickey in a career that is already full of highlights. Audiences can expect Hickey to embark on each of these new adventures with her signature dose of positive energy and optimism, which have made her so relatable to viewers for decades.
Tracy Moore and Cheryl Hickey have both been familiar faces on Canadian television for decades, but there’s so much more to them than their bubbly on-air personalities. With shared values, including dedication to their work and fans, putting family first, and building sustainable practices into their everyday lives, it’s no surprise that these two powerhouse women are drawn to each other. Long-time friends, they’re two business-savvy women dedicated to changing the world around them for the better.
Tracy Moore’s default setting is one of joy, but that won’t surprise her loyal Cityline audience. For more than a decade, she’s been sharing her authenticity and vulnerability on the popular daytime talk show, and it’s that joy, coupled with her contagious zest and playfulness that have people tuning in day after day. “I don’t think we’re meant to work ourselves to death,” she says. “Stringing together as many moments of joy as possible is what living a good life is all about to me.”
Known to break into song and dance during commercial breaks and for heartening fits of laughter on-air, Moore credits her parents, Marjorie and Leonard Moore, for her bright disposition.
“They came to Canada from Jamaica with little and built a loving, secure, education-focused life for me and my sister,” she says. “My parents didn’t grow up with much but still managed to give us the world. I couldn’t possibly let their hard work be in vain.”
Born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, now living in Toronto, Moore began her broadcast career as a student at McGill University, volunteering at the campus radio station. From there, she attended Western University, where she did her Masters in journalism before landing her first job assigning camera crews at CBC. She worked hard, begging her way up from an editorial assistant, researcher, and chase producer to a reporter and back-up anchor.
“I entered the world of journalism not only because I love to read and write, but because I wanted to tell the story of people who feel voiceless,” says Moore. She is proud of her work producing stories about people living in poverty and reporting sensitively and holistically on issues surrounding gun violence. She is also proud of helping increase the visibility of marginalized people through her work on Cityline. “There are so many issues plaguing the Black community that have to do with not being heard and living in a world that refuses to recognize its unconscious biases. I want to help be a voice for young people, people of color, and women.”
Among her biggest inspirations, Moore is encouraged by the next generation of young people who are motivated to save the planet. “They keep our green-factor on point and hold us accountable daily,” she says. And sustainability is a value she instills in her children, Sidney and Eva. Along with her husband, Lio Perron, she’s adopted house hacks that allow her family to live in an eco-friendly way. Among these ideas, Moore suggests reusable straws and containers for kids’ lunches, drying clothing outside instead of using a dryer, and taking public transit and walking whenever possible. “Little things can go a long way towards lessening our footprint,” she says.
“We use biodegradable doggie poop bags (for fur baby Ozzie), clean with a natural mixture of vinegar, lemon, and water, recycle EVERYTHING and make sure the kids have waste-free lunches,” says Moore. “My husband was a sustainability fan before it was in style. He believes in zero-waste dinners and buys meat for the family directly from a local farmer., allowing us to buy in bulk with little packaging,” she says.
Supporting local businesses is integral to Moore’s entrepreneurial work. In 2016, she joined forces with high-end ladieswear retailer Freda’s to launch a Canadian-made fashion collection available exclusively through Today’s Shopping Choice (TSC) and TSC.ca.
“I believe in relationships, and the team at Freda’s and I are now like family. But more importantly, Tracy Moore Designed by Freda’s (TMxFredas) is manufactured right here in Toronto,” she says of creating a brand with a purpose. “This means we know the employees who cut the patterns and sew the pieces. We know they have vacation days, health care, and fair hours. We know they’re treated properly.” Moore says buying Canadian whenever possible helps makes sure her money is helping to support people who are working in safe and secure environments.
Moore is also dedicated to her philanthropic life, especially when it comes to empowering young women and girls. She works with the Children’s Aid Society of Canada to help at-risk children, hosting the high-profile Standup for Kids Night fundraiser. She also emcees the Trust 15 annual gala, which supports programs that give kids the social and educational tools they need to succeed. In March, Moore worked with the Code Black Communicator Network to bring an idea of mentoring en masse to fruition by presenting industry secrets for PR and media professionals to an audience of more than 200 people. “Working with Code Black to create Tracy Moore x Code Black’s first mentoring event together was an epic moment for me,” she says. “I want to do more. When I finally leave this industry, I want people to know that I care.”
When asked what might surprise her fans about her, Moore says that while she looks laid back at first glance, she’s a big planner. “I know what I’m doing months in advance, and knowing what’s happening in my life makes me feel secure and happy,” she says. “I don’t have a spontaneous bone in my body!”
One thing that Moore is careful to plan for herself is a self-care routine. As the first person in her household to wake up in the morning, she’s sure to get in a workout bright and early every day. Moore also meditates daily, protects her energy “like a ninja,” and insulates herself from things that drain her energy. She values the time she spends with her girlfriends and her yearly vacation (without kids) with her husband.
“I think you can have everything, but just not all at once,” says Moore. “Sometimes, my kids don’t get tucked in by me at night because I am at an event or volunteering somewhere else. Sometimes I have to say no to a work engagement because I need to be at my kid’s hockey tournament. And sometimes, my husband is left with a super quiet, non-responsive wife because I’m drained by mommy and work duties. We can’t all win all the time, but I’ve made peace with that, so it doesn’t bother me. My life is messy, and I like it that way!” she says.
When she’s not engaging with Cityline fans online, reading, or spending time with her family, Moore is busy planning for the future — a future she knows will include helping as many people as she can.
“My goal from now and going forward is to help more. Help women more—help kids in need more. Help marginalized groups more. Help my people more.” With seemingly endless energy and a heart of gold, there’s no doubt Moore will turn even her most ambitious goals into reality.
Photo(s) provided by: George Pimentel