Were Emily Yeung to run the country, her day would unfold something like this: rise at 7 am to a bowl of fresh Fruit Loops. Ride a horse (bareback) to Parliament (redecorated in pink). Confer with cabinet ministers on a plan to crack down on litterbugs. Pass a law eradicating red potatoes. Hold a press conference with Hilary Duff on… does it really matter?
Becoming Prime minister would be easier if Emily knew who the current incumbent is. She’s not familiar with George Bush, either. “They’re like mayors, right?” she asks me. Then again, at seven years and six weeks old, Emily has enough on her plate as it is. Tackling hard math such as 18 plus 19, for example. Or remembering how to spell could.
And Emily already has a public platform. This September, she will follow in the footsteps of Daniel Cook-called “the most popular preschooler in Canada”- as the host of the reality show This is Emily Yeung. Over 65-six minute segments, she will do things such as make sushi, build a Treehouse with Mike Holmes, meet a female astronaut at NASA and shoot hoops with Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors. A half-hour holiday special is also in the works.
Filmed from a child’s perspective in a cinema-vérité style, the This is… formula breaks the mould of kids’ television. Daniel or Emily interview grown-ups (famous and otherwise). They make off-the-cuff jokes (funny and otherwise). They share stories about their friends, their families, their cats. Instead of big purple dinosaurs or extremely chirpy adults, young viewers see themselves reflected onscreen.
The like this: from its first hour on-air in 2004, This is Daniel Cook had fan mail and traffic on its website. By its second season, it was being broadcast on Treehouse and TVO Kids in Canada, and Playhouse Disney in the United States. The show was nominated for three Gemini Awards- and the New York Times, Maclean’s and CTV all covered the pipsqueak phenomenon.
Thing is, kids have a tendency to grow up. At age nine, Daniel has now moved on to other projects. Among them, a new series called I Dare You and a book. Now it’s Emily’s turn-this time exclusively on specialty network Treehouse-to don the show’s signature orange T-shirt.
This is Emily Yeung
My own interest in Emily Came by the way of another kid. In 1992, Esquire ran a piece by Susan Orlean called The American Man, Age 10. Centered on Colin Duffy, it chronicled the surreal terrain of a middle-class middle-American boy on his way to adulthood.