It’s hard to believe anyone as beautiful, confident and ambitious as Cynthia Loyst, co-host of the popular TV show The Social (alongside Melissa Grelo, Cynthia Loyst, Lainey Lui, and Traci Melchor), could ever feel self-critical, but as I sat with her recently for this interview I realized it’s what makes her all the more magnetic.
It’s also what may have prevented her audience from ever knowing her at all. In the beginning, she didn’t want to be on camera.
“I absolutely hated it. I felt so terrified and self-critical, it almost ruined me,” she says.
Achieving the confidence she needed has been a long path, but looking back, she realizes that there were a few lessons she didn’t know were lessons at the time.
She was around 7 or 8 years old when she attended a magic show and became captivated by the magician. Shortly into his set, he asked for a special volunteer to go up on stage with him. Young Loyst put her hand up excitedly but when he spotted her, she immediately retracted. The magician moved on and some other little girl was chosen. The audience praised the little girl with applause, and she was given a teddy bear at the end. Loyst was crushed.
“I totally ruined my own fun because of fear,” she admits. “It’s so interesting that that’s such a fixed memory in my brain because I almost let it happen again with this job. And I love this job. I almost let the fear get the best of me.”
Before we talk about her current job, she brings me back to when her passions were born and what drove her in the early days.
When Loyst got to York University, she took women’s studies and devoured every book she could on sexuality. Growing up in a Catholic environment, Loyst says, “You didn’t talk about sex and you certainly didn’t have it before you were married.”
So, being a self-proclaimed thorn in her parents’ sides, she would ask her mother, “I guess that means that you’ve only had sex twice then? For us two kids?”
Seeing her mother squirm uncomfortably, Loyst realized that religion tended to pick and choose what was okay and not okay as a matter of convenience. She found it hard to relate to the stories in the Bible as hardly any of them included women. She now understands that a role honouring women and their sexuality was something that her personality gravitated toward very early on.
She began writing an advice column, and through the study of Film and Video, she was able to share her love of story-telling.
“There was something about documentary that I loved because I could go into people’s homes, and they would tell me their stories and I could bring it to life through pictures,” she says.
After years spent behind-the-scenes as a writer and producer, she was approached by someone from the industry about going on camera. Loyst did a few onscreen tests and claims that she was terrible. Paralyzed at times by fear, Loyst let her passion for sexual dialogue help her continue. She also took acting classes and Toastmasters to alleviate some of the jitters, and eventually she was the regular host of Sex Matters, a T.V show covering everything to do with sex.
During that first hosting gig, she recalls going home to her partner and saying that she hated it.
“I’ve always gone by the ideology that if something feels good, it must be right. I wrestled with the fact that the idea of feeling so horrible maybe meant that I was going down the wrong path and that’s what this was trying to tell me. But that’s not what it was trying to tell me. It was just challenging,” she admits.
“I think a lot of times in life we gravitate towards the things that are easier and feel immediately that we’re good at. But sometimes the best rewards are from the most difficult things to get through.”
As I admire her long, naturally thick hair and her down-to-earth ease, I feel like we’re sitting in a quaint wine bar on an amazing first friend date. She’s open, funny, and completely real. She’s my kind of girl. Because of our easy, deep talk, I feel comfortable asking her more about insecurities and if she has any advice on overcoming them.
I explain to her that our readers are much more interested in hearing from successful people who admit to having had personal challenges than about their glamorous life. Even though she looks pretty fabulous while balancing raising her 22-month-old son with her incredible career and her successful, attractive partner, she doesn’t care to put on any airs. She’s happy to talk about the not-so-glamorous content.
“I was so in my own head. I was crazed by my own insecurities that I forgot the golden rule: It’s not all about you. Serve the story. Serve the people who are your guests. Stop making it all about you. Then you become less nervous. Over time, by making mistakes I gained confidence, and by doing it more and more,” she says passionately.
By stepping outside of herself, she has been able to overcome the fear and insecurities that may have very well taken her on a completely different path.
“Being out of our comfort zone makes us feel alive,” she says. “Our senses all open up. We can go through life on the treadmill in the rat race going from day to day and just completely miss out on that.”
Loyst says she feels very blessed to be in a job where she gets to work alongside women she respects and loves along with meeting some of the most inspiring, impressive people every day. As I finish up with her by chatting about our sons and shaking hands, I walk away feeling excited to inspire our readers to slap fear in the face. I am also reminded of what we can all forget in times of fear and insecurity: connecting with people means stepping outside of yourself and giving of yourself. Meeting Loyst, one can’t deny that she is the complete embodiment of this inspiring sentiment.
Daily talk series THE SOCIAL airs live weekdays at 1 p.m. ET (2 p.m. AT) on CTV and the CTV GO app.
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