There's even episodes where I shot the intro with like a little sleeping mask above my forehead. So you couldn't see that I was paralyzed.
Below is an abridged audio transcript of Episode 39 from Season 3 of Rock The Boat: Against All Odds, edited for clarity.
On the podcast Rock the Boat, Lucia Liu and Lynne Guey have candid conversations with Asian Americans who are challenging the status quo. We uncover stories about their upbringing their relationship with family Asian identity and their work in the past. We've interviewed Andrew Yang, Michelle Phan, and this season we've focused on people who have fought against the odds.
In this episode, we talk to Erin Lim, host of the Rundown on E!News. She has high-fived Brad Pitt on the red carpet and interviewed the cast of Avengers Endgame. We sit down with Erin to talk to her about her battle with Bell's palsy and how it affected her career as a journalist and entertainer.
You'll hear more about:
growing up in multiple cultures
deciding to go into broadcast journalism
what happened when half of Erin Lim's face was paralyzed, and
how she bounced back from that to do the work she loves.
I. Meet Erin Lim
Erin: Hi, I'm Erin Lim. I am the host for E's The Rundown and I also am a correspondent for E!News.
Lucia: Erin's style is fun, energetic, and passionate. She's very gregarious with a natural talent for being in front of the camera. It's easy to see that Erin loves her work.
Erin: My dad was born in Manila, so he is very Filipino. And my mom, she's born in Los Angeles. American true and true, but also from a Mexican background, Mexican, Spanish, European.
It was cool coming from a mixed background because I felt like I got the best of both worlds.
Erin: On Christmas Eve, it was with my mom's family. So we were doing tamales and enchiladas and Mexican-style Christmas Eve and we go to midnight mass.
And then on Christmas day I was with my Filipino family and you know, I've got my dad [who has] six siblings and they all have like three kids each. So it's a huge Christmas and Filipino food and and I just love it so much and it wasn't until I moved away when I was older that I realized how much I missed my family and how much I valued all of the traditions that come with that.
Lucia: When she was little, Erin had high hopes of becoming a movie star or performing on Broadway, but her immigrant parents had other thoughts.
Erin: My parents were like, absolutely not. You can't sing. You are not going into theater. I'm sorry, not going to work out for you, next.
And they're like, eh, you're not going to be an actor.
And you know, when you come from a background of like hard-working immigrants, it's like look, you went to school, you got to have something substantial.
My dad was like, well, how about this? You love sports, you love commentating on things. What about broadcast journalism? That could be something that's viable for you, you could study broadcast journalism, you know, he's like, I see. This passion for you to be in front of the camera. He's like, you've got that charisma. and so broadcast journalism became a goal for me.
II. Erin in Broadcast Journalism
Erin: So while I was in college, I was doing my own side hustle on my own little show, and I would go to video game releases at midnight. I would talk to video game developers. I would do anything that surrounded video game and nerd culture and buzz. And from there, I kind of built my portfolio while I was in college.
So I was doing, you know, the hard news stuff for projects. I was reporting for the local Orange County network and I was going to their big local events and being the host for it. So I built a real pretty much off of video game reporting, and it was for my own show called Elite.
Once I started doing my video game journalism, you could tell that my personality was really coming out. And because I spoke so passionately about it, people cared about it. They might not have cared about video games. They might not have cared about who the heck created Call of Duty, but they were like, Whoa, you're so interested in it.
That kind of helped me like turn the corner and say, okay, like if I could just stay true to my voice and talk authentically and speak passionately about what it is that I'm reporting about, then I'm going to be okay.
Lucia: And Erin was okay. After she graduated, she took on a series of internships that eventually took her to Singapore. There she landed a gig reporting for E! News Asia. That experience taught her how to shine.
Her passion and affinity for the camera led her to an opportunity to host her own show The Rundown. That's where Erin gives a rundown of everything happening in entertainment that week. Erin loves her job despite the crazy hours.
III. Health Issues Cause Erin to Pump Her Brakes
Erin: My friend was visiting me on set and she was watching me film and. She asked me, "Did you go to the dentist?" I said, "No, what are you talking about?" She said, "You're talking from the side of your mouth." And I said, yeah, I always talk at the side of my mouth. My mom, like, she gets so annoyed by it because I slightly talk on the side of my mouth, like Drew Barrymore.
So I didn't even think twice about it. And then we go on with our day. It's the end of the night and we're watching a live comedy show. And as I'm laughing my face off, only half of my faces moving and I'm like, why does half of my face feel like it's not moving? And I turned to her, I'm like, am I paralyzed? Is half of my face not moving? And she said, yeah, that's what I've been trying to tell you all day. I was like, Oh my gosh. I ran to the bathroom and I just saw that it was like frozen on one side.
Lucia: Erin's job is to speak in, smile in front of a camera, so you can imagine how discovering one side of her face with paralyzed caused a lot of strife. She started reflecting on all the things that could have caused the condition.
Erin: I wasn't really managing my stress well. I was just on the go and I didn't even realize that I was stressed or that my body was suffering because I do love my job. I do love working hard and pushing myself, and maybe sometimes I just push myself too hard and my body was like, yo, pump the brakes and this is my body's way of telling me you're working too hard.
And it literally just shut down one day and I was at work, I had no idea it had hit.
Bell's palsy is considered a rare disease. It's facial paralysis where half of your face can literally not move, and you have slurred speech. Your eye does not shut. It's very hard to speak. You can't really smile.
Lucia: During her illness, Erin still did the intros and voiceovers to her show.
Erin: I've grown so attached to this show and to the fans and they have grown so attached to me and I didn't wanna let them down. And if I ever miss an episode, they freak out. And I didn't want them to be worried. But, yeah, as long as they saw my face for five seconds in the intro, they'd be like, Oh, we got a dose of Erin and I would still do the voiceovers. And those were really hard cause I couldn't pronounce P words and B words and F words.
Lucia: It took 21 days for Erin to become well enough to get back onto the show. Erin could have easily kept quiet about what had happened to her, but instead of hiding her illness, Erin decided to take a bold move and come out to her fans on Instagram.
Erin: Me coming out actually helps so many people, which then helped me.
Tons of people just saying, I also went through Bell's palsy. I know someone who has Bell's palsy. People asking for tips on how I got better and you know, asking what they could do and just needing support and just thanking me for being brave and courageous to come out and show me with my eye looking crazy and having a slurred speech.
I felt like it could have been forever and I'm so blessed that I healed so quickly.
Lucia: Since then, Erin has posted other videos of her battling Bell's palsy to share with her fans.
Erin's not letting Bell's palsy slow her down or define her life. She's still hosting The Rundown. She has, however, learned to be more mindful of taking care of her body.
Erin: I just try and destress and offload whether I have to do yoga to start my day or yoga to end my day. Meditation really helps and my acupuncturist, he's so cute. He is even like, pray to God and like give thanks.
Lucia: And her advice to those who wished to follow in her footsteps.
Erin: Just freaking do it. Just do it. You have access to a camera, whether you own one or your friend owned one, or your parents own one, or the random person down the street owns one and you can rent it. You can make your own show. YouTube exists. Instagram exists. Snapchat exists. Anyone can create.
If you have a brain, you are a creative being.
Erin Lim went through an episode of Bell's palsy where she experienced facial paralysis. You can find out more information about the condition at the website of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.