Travel Channel is well-known for its emphasis on paranormal programming, and women are front and center in many of their most popular shows. As part of San Diego Comic-Con 2020, several of the women of the Travel Channel lineup joined me to talk about their experiences as TV stars, the role that gender plays in the paranormal investigation field, and more.
Get to know Cindy Kaza (The Holzer Files), Katrina Weidman (Portals to Hell), Chelsea Laden (Destination Fear) and Amy Bruni (Kindred Spirits) in our interview, and for even more information on each of their series, visit the Travel Channel website.
Brittany Frederick: Travel Channel’s shows place a particular emphasis on showing strong women in the paranormal field. In your experience, is that typical, and what if any role does gender play in the work you do?
Amy Bruni: I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that [the paranormal field] is very male-dominated. I think that for a long time on television, it was heavily represented by men. But when you actually get out into paranormal conventions and events and see the faces out there, it’s actually a very female-driven field. I find that it’s probably 75 percent women. I know on all my social media, 75 percent of my followers are women.
It’s so interesting that something that is so female-based would be, for the longest time, represented by men in the public eye. I’m so happy to see that changing and to see Travel Channel, in particular, representing and making sure that there are plenty of female researchers on their shows as well.
Cindy Kaza: The field of mediumship is very female-driven as well, and I know a lot of the shows that we see on television specifically around mediumship are very female-driven. I’m really excited to be part of a paranormal show, bringing mediumship to the table, because it really shows how the two worlds can work together, having the mediumship being in conjunction with all the tools and the technology of the paranormal. I’m really excited about the opportunity. There are a lot of women in paranormal and in mediumship, but I’m glad that we’re finally being represented on TV.
Katrina Weidman: Culturally, we’ve been kind of inundated with these messages for a very long time that women can’t lead, women can’t be brave, women have to learn from men, and I think that’s definitely bled into this genre for a really long time. [With] my work in the field, at least, I haven’t found any of that stuff to be true. There are women who don’t want to be in those positions of leadership in the paranormal, and that’s totally fine. But there [are] definitely a lot of women who are qualified for it and who want to be in this position.
I think that whole misconception of the scared woman in the scary place – although maybe that’s true for some people, I don’t think that’s the standard. I think what we’ve all seen is that it’s not. It’s a lot of really brave women in the field who are more than happy to step forward and take on that role.
Chelsea Laden: I can humbly say that I am one of those girls who gets a little freaked out at times. You know, I scream when I’m scared and all of that. But I also wanted to prove that women can do what guys can do, even when that fear is there. When I [joined] the show, I had a conversation with the guys and I told them I might be the most scared person of the group. But, I don’t want that fear to dictate what I can and can’t do.
I want to, at the very least, try to hang in there and do what they were doing, even if it involved doing things that you don’t typically think of when you think of women on a TV show, like being put in a dungeon alone or a hallway that was notorious for women having experiences there. I just wanted to prove that we can do what the guys can do even if there is more emotion tied to it.
BF: So much of your work requires being in closed spaces, often with other people, and being present at these sites. How has the current pandemic affected each of your shows?
AB: Without giving away too much, things are happening. I just think a lot of productions are staying as local as possible, really small crews, aggressive COVID testing of crew and cast. Ours in particular, we have like seven or eight crew members plus Adam and me. We are doing a lot of Skyping and remote interviews, things like that. So it will happen; I just think it might look a little different. But I think people are going to be really understanding when these shows come out.
CL: The COVID protocols are very expensive and very thorough. And I know that no one would be going back to work if it wasn’t the most safe environment possible. But, in addition to that, we are very blessed because we get to go to places where a lot of people wouldn’t even be paid to go to, to be honest. A lot of my friends say that at times. They’re like, “You couldn’t even pay me to go there.” So that actually works in our favor because these are probably the least touched locations out there. I think we have that to at least look forward to and be hopeful for.
For more on any of the interview subjects or the shows on which they star, visit the Travel Channel website.