Benedict M.P. Mulroney ’93 is a Canadian television personality, broadcaster, and entertainment reporter. The son of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, he has co-anchored Canada’s wildly successful eTalk for all of its 11 seasons and has recently joined the weekend team of U.S. television’s Good Morning America (GMA).
A Montreal native, Mulroney was a history major at Duke and earned a law degree from Laval University, his father’s alma mater. “I loved studying law, but I didn’t feel as though I was ready for a career in law.” His future gelled somewhat by accident. “I really had no experience in show business beyond an occasional interview as the (former) prime minister’s son. I took some drama classes when I was little to overcome shyness, and I had tried my hand at acting at Hotchkiss in The Mouse That Roared. But then, when my dad asked me to step in and represent him at a policy convention for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, I was interviewed, and a Canada Television (CTV) executive saw me. She thought I was quick on my feet and offered me a job as the Quebec City correspondent for talktv’s (now MTV) The Chatroom. I decided to give it a try.”
When the network bought the rights to launch Canadian IDOL, a CTV executive brought Mulroney in to ask him what he thought of American IDOL. “I was a huge fan. I told them I knew the show well and loved it. With that, I became a host and spent the next six years with Canadian IDOL.” Mulroney has since built many relationships in the business and has earned a reputation as a focused and diligent worker. Aside from anchoring eTalk and doing an occasional gig on Good Morning America, Mulroney has hosted a radio show, covered the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, interviewed many of the world’s high-profile celebrities, and covered a number of red-carpet events like the OSCARS® and the Golden Globes®.
As Mulroney’s reputation has grown, so have his opportunities, but he notes that it was very difficult to break into the American television market. “It took many, many meetings. People from all over the world want to get into U.S. television. It has a high level of excellence, very talented people, and very few roles.” His first meeting with ABC president Ben Sherwood happened five years before his appearance on Good Morning America. Last spring Mulroney served twice as co-host of the syndicated morning show Live! with Kelly. “It was a great introduction to American audiences.” At GMA, Mulroney will fill in for anchors by reading the news or doing interviews; he is grateful for the chance to put his skills to use in a new venue.
Mulroney spent his senior year at Hotchkiss, but that, too, happened rather unexpectedly. “It wasn’t on my radar. I had come with my parents to show my younger brother the School. I loved the tour and thought the School was amazing. I was ready for a change to help me get to the next stage of life, as the French lycee system of education is very different. The teachers disseminate the information to the students, and you take the required courses. If your goal is a Canadian or American university rather than a French school or college, it is not a good match. When I came to Hotchkiss, it was like night and day, and I was shocked by the number of courses offered. Though the academics were certainly demanding, it was really the first time in my life that I liked school. I took a history class with Robert Barker, and I looked forward to it. It was Robert who put me on the path to Duke, where I majored in history. Every aspect of that Hotchkiss experience helped me in my later life.”
Mulroney, who is a charismatic and respected journalist, uses his celebrity status for the good of others. Along with supporting many other charities, Mulroney was appointed national ambassador for UNICEF Canada in 2006. “When UNICEF approached me with this opportunity, I jumped at the chance. UNICEF has been working in Canada for more than 50 years to help connect Canadians to children in developing nations. I am committed to doing whatever I can to help UNICEF in its work to restore childhoods and build futures for children around the world.” More recently, Mulroney joined the WaterCan Charity for its 25th anniversary as its national ambassador and celebrity climber in the Kilimanjaro Climb for Life Campaign. WaterCan’s goal is to bring clean water, better health, and brighter futures to communities in eastern Africa. After doing “a little prep” in order to scale Africa’s highest peak, Mulroney and 21 others rose to the challenge and completed the climb last October. “We raised a lot of money, and I can now say that I, too, have conquered 19,341 feet of adventure, exhaustion, plunging temperatures, and ultimately, pride!”
When choosing a charity to support, Mulroney consults with his wife, Jessica. “Together, we decide what we can do. I work with one national charity at a time, but do between 12 and 15 charity events a year where I am often master of ceremonies. My brother hosts an annual golf tournament, with the proceeds going to fund a week at summer camp for children of active service members, so we participate in that, too.” Mulroney has also run in a marathon to support a friend seriously injured in a car accident.
In retrospect, Mulroney says, “I am a lucky guy. I have traveled the world, and I see how fortunate I am. I feel it is my obligation to give back. It is important to lead by example, and there are many places that can benefit from our know-how. But we also have ‘developing world’ conditions in Canada. We can’t forget our own backyard.”
When asked why entertainment news is so popular, Mulroney says, “It has always been popular because it is the opium for the masses. In a bad economy, people still go to the movies. There is something magical about the movies and something aspirational about entertainment. Everyone has an opinion about it. In analyzing and reporting the news, we contribute added value.”