This season of NBC’s The Voice has ended, which means host Carson Daly will be out of the primetime limelight for a while. He’ll go back to being wildly under-utilized as the social media correspondent on The Today Show and continuing to tape episodes of his Last Call late night show for all of the indie music-loving vampires that are awake during the time it airs.

If you’re under the age of 25, you may not know that Daly received his big break as the host of MTV’s Total Request Live. And if you’re under the age of 20, you may not even know what TRL is and probably assume “VJ” is slang for either a sex act or a disease. Well, back when music videos were actually considered television content, Video Jockeys – a play on the term Disc Jockey or “DJ” – were the on-air personalities that provided introduction and context for the videos.

After perusing a list of all of the VJs that MTV has produced since it’s launch in 1981, I was surprised to see the names of some people I had no idea got their start on the MTV airwaves.


Pauly Shore

I remember growing up and seeing Pauly Shore looking out of place during multiple years of MTV Spring Break coverage and just assumed that he invited himself. His movie career was basically dead on arrival and I thought he was desperately attempting to stay in front of the camera by agreeing to do anything MTV would let him. As it turns out, the Encino Man actor had joined the ranks of MTV VJs in 1989 and at one point, hosted his own show on the network titled Totally Pauly. Check out the video of him interviewing a 4 year-old Bruno Mars in Hawaii.

Daisy Fuentes


I think the first time Daisy Fuentes was on my radar was as one of the replacement hosts of America’s Funniest Home Videos at the end of the Bob Saget era. I recall seeing her face on MTV’s House of Style before that, but would end up changing the channel before taking notice (It was boring to a kid). Ms. Fuentes has made a career as a television personality and host, but got her start as MTV’s first Latina VJ in 1993 after doing some work for MTV Internacional before then.

Tyrese Gibson


Tyrese Gibson has had a successful career as an R&B singer, but even more so as an actor in action films like those in The Fast and the Furious and Transformers franchises. Gibson got his true start in the entertainment industry as a model in 1990, but received his big break introducing music videos on MTV Jams in 1996. Tyrese (or Black-Ty, as he is sometimes known) released his self-titled debut album in 1998 and starred in the movie Baby Boy in 2001. His movie career has only grown since and he is still releasing new music, with an album scheduled for release in 2014.

Ashlee Simpson


Ok, so she obviously got the job based on her sister’s celebrity and probably because of their creepy dad Joe’s persistence. However, in May of 2003, MTV Beach House audiences were introduced to a new host: Jessica Simpson’s little sister Ashlee, who had been a reoccurring character on 7th Heaven during the previous season. I am impressed with the timing of this move to MTV for Ashlee, because while Jessica had been on the pop charts for a few years, the “chicken of the sea” incident on Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica wouldn’t occur for another few months, launching their family to “household name” status and MTV cash cows. Ashlee subsequently received her own MTV reality show documenting the creation of her first album in 2004.

Vanessa Minnillo Lachey


Speaking of people with Nick Lachey connections, the current Mrs. Lachey traded in her soap opera career for a hosting gig on MTV in 2003. Vanessa Minnillo joined the TRL family and went on to host several other shows and specials for MTV during her tenure. Why I don’t remember her during this time is puzzling. She has since been the host of countless awards show red carpets and beauty pageants (a former pageant queen herself). She was a correspondent on Entertainment Tonight for several years and has dabbled back into acting as one of the stars of the horrendous 2008 parody Disaster Movie and as a series regular on last season’s FOX sitcom Dads.


Who was your favorite VJ? Should MTV resurrect the video countdown format? Connect with us in the comments by including your best TRL “Shout Out” – example below:

  • Where is Jesse Camp?

  • Carson Daly….blech

  • Jesse Camp is still high on a beach somewhere.

    I forgot Ashlee Simpson

  • Matt Clark

    Hi, my name is Matt and I’m from Dallas, Texas. I wanna give a shout out to everybody back at The State of Awesome because they rock and Baylor alums are taking over the world! Sic ’em Bears! WOOOO! WOOOOOOOOOOOO!