By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
IN addition to being an entertainment mogul, talk-show host, game-show host, comedian and social-media guru Steve Harvey also “smells good,” reported Aliyah Hunt, the 10-year-old Hermitage girl who interviewed Harvey on his talk show.
“He smells like warm vanilla sugar,” said Aliyah, an Ionta Elementary School fifth-grader.
Aliyah was able to get up close and personal with Harvey after sending an e-mail to the production company of “The Steve Harvey Show.”
“The producer said she really liked the e-mail that I sent to them,” said Aliyah, who appeared Wednesday. “She said I was really cute.”
She also sent a video in which she told about herself and asked to interview Harvey, who also hosts the game show “The Family Feud.”
Aliyah embarked on her quest to interview Harvey after being assigned by Ionta Elementary teacher Kimberly Ghirardi to write an essay for the Shenango Valley Urban League’s 2013 African-American History and Heroes Essay Contest. She chose Harvey because she admires him, and ended up winning first prize.
“My grandma and I watch the show all the time,” Aliyah said of Debra Thomas, with whom she and her mother, Nicole Hunt, live.
“He’s really funny,” Aliyah said. “I like all the things he does for others. He wasn’t always famous. He started at the bottom, living in his car.”
She also follows him on Twitter and Facebook.
“He posts life things, things to inspire people and get them up from the day,” she said.
Aliyah and Thomas went to Chicago Jan. 30 for the taping of “The Steve Harvey Show” on Jan. 31. They stayed overnight in the Hyatt Chicago Magical Mile. Because their flight was late, they did not get home until Feb. 1.
“I had never been on the plane before,” Aliyah said. “The hotel was really pretty. It was, like, 17 floors. Wow.”
She had a driver to get her to the show and back, and her name was on a dressing room door.
At the end of the show, she was called out to interview Harvey.
“I asked him who inspired him, who gave him his first big break and who was his hero,” Aliyah said. “My last question for him was what was his plans for the future.”
Harvey responded with “really deep” answers, said Aliyah, whose father, Paul Hunt, lives in North Carolina.
During the filming, “I was really nervous,” she said. “I was really quiet and I smiled a lot. My grandmother started crying.”
Ionta school officials plan to play the show for students, said fifth-grade teacher Michelle Lanshcak.
“You should reach out,” Lanshcak said of the message she hopes Aliyah’s appearance instills in her classmates. “You never know what’s going to happen. Her having this experience has shown others that dreams can come true.”
Aliyah performs with Spirit Baton, plays saxophone and sings at church and school, and wants to be a lawyer.
“My mom says I’m a really good debater and I debate until I get what I want,” Aliyah said.
If scoring an interview with Harvey is any indication, she does get what she wants.