Checking in with Doja Cat: VMAs Host, Performer and 5-Time Nominee

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“I know as much as you know,” Doja Cat tells Billboard cheekily while discussing her upcoming hosting gig at the 2021 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, Sept. 12.

The Los Angeles native made headlines for her out-of-this-world mashup of “Say So” and “Like That” during the 2020 VMAs. Now, fans are eager to see what she has planned for her sophomore performance. Not only is the “Won’t Bite” singer hosting this year’s awards show for the first time, but she’s also nominated for five awards — including artist of the year and video of the year for the sexy, sci-fi visual behind “Kiss Me More.”

While the Planet Her star is keeping the details of her hosting duties a surprise (for now), she shares with us her excitement on gracing the VMAs stage for the second year in a row along with her thoughts on how she’s translating her relatable personality on the internet to live television.  

The 2021 MTV VMAs is is set to air live on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Billboard caught up with Doja Cat beforehand to talk about what it means to be hosting the VMAs and who she grew up watching perform.

What does it mean for you personally to host the VMAs? 

I am glad that people enjoy my personality enough to have me on the show and host. It’s beautiful. I don’t know what’s going to happen as far as my hosting debut. I still don’t know the little quirks of it all or the pieces that we will be doing, but I know that I’m excited and glad that they enjoy who I am.  

Your video for “Kiss Me More” is nominated for video of the year, and director Warren Fu has even captioned the clip on Instagram, “Everybody asking about our Asian male lead in the Doja Cat and Sza’s ‘Kiss Me More.’” Why do you think Alex Landi was the perfect person to star as your leading man in the visual?  

He is gorgeous, and he was a beautiful fit for that role. That’s pretty much it.  

Did you grow up watching the VMAs? 

Undeniably. We all did. It’s amazing to be part of it. I spent so much time on the internet when I was young — I’d watch the VMAs through clips of this, or YouTube videos of that. I’ve paid most attention to the artists themselves and what they brought to the stage.  

Can you mention any of those specific artists? 

Yeah, [Lady] Gaga was bringing something amazing every time. Janet Jackson. Britney [Spears] was doing something amazing every time. Nicki Minaj was always bringing something interesting and compelling. A lot of very, very good artists came up, and I grew up listening and watching them.  

People know and love your personality — especially when fans interact with you on TikTok. How are you translating that into hosting the VMAs on stage? 

I’m different live than I am in real life. Well, not really, kind of. When I’m alone and rambling to myself, then I am alone and rambling to myself. But if there are people around, if there’s stimuli around me, I’m responding to it. It will be different from me just being alone, but not too much. I’ll still be me, and I’m excited to find out what that is.  

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