It’s Becky Griffin’s turn to capture the attention of the millions of European youngsters (including more than 1.3 million in Israel) who tune everyday to watch MTV.Israel’s newest, and perhaps biggest, musical export is a lithe, 25-year old American immigrant named Becky Griffin. MTV announced last week that Griffin had beat out over 200 other Israeli hopefuls including numerous local celebrities to become the latest VJ (Video Jockey) for the world’s most famous music channel.
Following in the footsteps of Eden Harel, Israel’s first MTV VJ, Griffin will join the channel in London presenting shows for MTV’s Europe operation. Her first job, which will begin in a few weeks, is hosting the weekly Dance Floor Charts countdown.
Eric Kearly, manager of MTV Europe, said that Griffin was the natural choice for the channel, which selected her after intense auditions in London last month.
“She has a very professional attitude and the camera just loves her,” he said.
To look for an MTV VJ in Israel was also a natural decision for the music station. Ben Gur, publicity coordinator for popular Tel Aviv electronic club Dinamo Dvash said, “Not only does MTV likes to be as colorful and as diverse as possible, but [former Israeli VJ] Eden was undoubtedly the best and most popular VJ they’ve ever had – everyone loved her.”
“Israelis are very open people and MTV seems to like that attitude, as well as their look,” added Gur.
Israeli pop music journalist and historian Benny Dudkevitch said that Griffin will be an asset for the channel.
“I suspect she is a good choice for MTV because I remember seeing a very beautiful girl. It’s a nice idea and her English is for sure better than mine.”
But the American-born Griffin is not alone in showing the world that Israelis have a cool style and are not starved of popular culture because of the ongoing security situation.
Israeli artists are well known in the electronic music and club scene too, with bands such as Infected Mushroom performing in clubs worldwide and electronic music mogul Eyal Barkan collaborating musically with some of the
top names in the business, including Carl Cox and even father of the club scene Paul Oakenfold. And nightclubs, such as Dinamo Dvash and Jerusalem’s Haoman 17 can claim the attention of some of the world’s most famous DJs.
“Before the whole ‘war’ situation started DJs and artists were very enthusiastic about coming here and we got requests from artist to perform all the time, now we have to work much harder to convince them to come,” said Gur.
Still, he says, there is no shortage of musicians wanting to perform to an Israeli audience. “Maybe Israel fascinates them because it’s exotic – it’s a Western country and a Middle Eastern country bordering on the first
world and third world.”
Within the mainstream, however, Israel can only really boast Dana International, who won the Eurovision song contest in 1997 and went on to
have a hit song with “Diva” and Harel, who was a VJ at MTV for five years from 1995 – 2000, and prompted MTV to search for another Israeli VJ.
Now it’s Griffin’s turn to try and capture the attention of the millions of European youngsters (including more than 1.3 million in Israel) who tune everyday to watch MTV.
Griffin made aliyah with her family at the tender age of 10 after spending her early years in Massachusetts and Maine. And while luck seems to be on her side lately, moving to Israel at such an impressionable age was not easy. In an interview with the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot, Griffin explained that she arrived “in a place where I could not speak the language and where everyone behaved differently to me.”
Throughout high school, says Griffin, she suffered from being different and worked very hard to lose her American accent. By the time she graduated, her luck had changed, and the daughter of 1980s Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player Bob Griffin became a local celebrity by modeling and acting in movies, such as A Present from the Sky.
Her most recent gig, and the job that has made her most recognizable to the Israeli public, was as a presenter for Israel’s sports channel, where she built up a reputation for getting players to open up about judging decisions
and other players.
Though it seems that her rise to the top has been pretty smooth, Griffin has admitted in various interviews that she is not fond of being in the public eye and is really very shy.
“I am really shy,” Griffin told Yediot Aharonot, “But when I am in front of the camera something in me wakes up and I get a new lease on life.”
With the amount of exposure Griffin will be receiving on MTV, and the good will she’ll be generating for Israel, she’s sure to be the life of the party.