When MTV brought home exploration docuseries Cradles, he also praised the return of his familiar voice from many seasons past, SuChin Pak. The MTV News alum served as the narrator for the popular series where celebrities open their often wacky (or totally chic) mansions, refrigerator doors and bedrooms to show “where the action is.”
The series is a trip down memory lane for Pak, who first joined the network in 2001. She has come a long way since then, innovating in representation and learning from each experience throughout her career. Nowadays, viewers can not only hear it on Cradles or past episodes of The real life, but on a podcast, the reporter hosts with comedian, writer and director Kulap Villysak called Add to cart. We caught up with Pak for a nostalgic and stimulating conversation.
How to be part of Cradles once again?
SuChin Pak: Funny how many times I’d be on the phone with customer service or an airline. I started talking and they were like, ‘Wait, are you the voice of Cradles? ‘ MTV has had a huge year to celebrate its 40th anniversary and bring Cradles back. It brings such a warm, fuzzy and nostalgic feeling. As we are all trapped in our homes, we can see the homes of famous celebrities. I love that they called me about it. It’s so fun and light, that’s all I want to watch these days.
Do you have a favorite house that you saw on the show?
i had no idea who [former NBA star] Nick Young was because I am not a sportsman. As soon as I saw this episode, I was like, “Are you offering him his own show?” He was so funny, charismatic, down to earth and hilarious. He’s got that perfect MTV booty Cradles needs, but at the same time he has kids running around which is a delight. I also have a soft spot for Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross. I think they are the cutest couple with their house and their very outspoken child who is with them on the tour. It is also very funny. I think Rick Ross could be the tallest in terms of square footage. Maybe Martha Stewart rivals, but I think it’s just a huge Cradles it’s opulent and really fun. Pass Cradles… The one everyone is referring to was the iconic Mariah Carey. Didn’t they do a spin-off of her wardrobe? It’s the right mix of oversized opulence with a celebrity’s refrigerator.
Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since you started working for MTV. How do you see your stay there?
There was an episode of my podcast where we had to explain what a VJ was. Some might not even know there were VJs and videos and quite a change. I think about how much MTV and its audience has changed. How much the media has changed, in the context of everything that changes around us racially, politically and financially. [And] with the pandemic? I have the impression that we are experiencing something historic. We say this a lot, but I feel like I really mean it this time. I think the past year and a half has sparked a conversation about what really matters. For me, it’s about finding different ways to talk about different stories and creating conversations. Now there is an audience for it.
When I was at MTV I felt very lonely. There was no place for me to feel like one [part of a] community. I think the rise of the internet and social media gives me a real connection to the community of Asian Americans, women, and people from all walks of life. It has been a very emotional and fulfilling year in my life in so many ways.
And then you see the # 1 movie in the world is Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings. It should be felt as progress.
I remember the first time I saw an all-Asian cast in a movie, it was Better luck tomorrow. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was possible or that I needed to see this superhero cast. I can’t help but be optimistic, even though there are so many terrible things going on and we have paid such a price, especially over the past year and a half. I didn’t think we could ever go back. I hope not.
Tell me about your decision to launch a podcast during the pandemic and how it has evolved.
We got the idea of Add to cart, which basically talks about the things we buy – the things in our carts and the things we take out of our cart and what it says about us. On the surface, these are the products that we obsess over. I think it serves a purpose and what it allows us to do is talk about what’s going on in our lives. It was the first time that I had really sat behind the microphone without a script and talked about my life in a deeply personal way.
Every week I struggle if I want to open my life. It was really scary and got me thinking, and it was really great too. When everything escalated at the start of the year, the violence against the Asian American community was something we couldn’t ignore. It was really dark. I have cried myself through many episodes. I remember feeling so vulnerable. It opened my eyes.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 20 years ago, what would it be?
I would tell myself to have fun. I never enjoyed my time on MTV or my 20s or 30s because I was so focused on my career. I was at the world’s biggest party on MTV. I think I would have appreciated more if I stopped for a moment and looked around. There is a lot of pressure to say the perfect thing or to have something to say, to know exactly what the right answer should be. It took me 20 years to figure it out. I can control the timing of my story, what I mean, and who I am. I was always in a hurry to understand everything. I realize that I needed all this time to get to this point in my life. I’m glad I waited this long. I think if I had done something deeply personal in my twenties or thirties like a podcast, I don’t know what it would be. It would be embarrassing because I didn’t know who I was. Now yes.
Cradles, Wednesdays, 9:30 am / 8:30 am, MTV and streaming on Paramount +