I’m prone to saying Shawn Killinger could sell me sand in the desert.

This QVC host doesn’t just show the high-end handbag, she weaves stories about where she’d be wearing it or scenarios of places you might if you bought it. Picture carrying it on a cruise, but not just any cruise. Perhaps a Scandinavian one, for that special dinner.

Earlier this year I read a New York Times piece about Killinger that I found kind of validating because it was by a guy admitting she gets him to buy things he doesn’t need.

Incidentally, the freelance writer who lives in me was like, why didn’t you trust your gut enough to pitch a Killinger piece to The New York Times? This guy went with his instincts and look at that, they went for it.

In any event, I’ve tried to understand how Killinger grabs me, particularly because I hate being sold to. I have an aversion to assertive, obvious salespeople. Typically I’m like, please go find your next target and get out of my orbit. I think it has to do with her realness, which comes through both in her on-air triumphs and the occasional mishap that could involve, say, spilled wine.

That’s the context I brought to Killinger’s brand new podcast called 50+ and Unfiltered. I tuned in to the first episode with her guest, Mally Roncal, a makeup artist extraordinaire who made her name doing celebrities’ makeup and has her own makeup line. I came into this expecting some fun banter, but it turned out to be a much deeper conversation. Killinger’s probing curiosity is the driver for scintillating dialogue.

As she asked questions about how Roncal got her start, it seemed each answer was a step forward but then one back because she was burrowing deeper. Oh, you worked for Beyonce. How does that come about? Wait, you did her makeup for a movie premiere in New York? Go back. Take us through that. Like, what hotel did you have to go to?

Killinger guides her guest to places you didn’t know you needed to go.

But here’s the story the life coach in me really wants to share. Roncal was 30-ish when she made up Beyonce for the Austin Powers New York premiere in 2002. Even though the trend was to make up women heavily, she went with her instinct and spent 10 minutes putting minimal makeup on Beyonce’s beautiful skin and features.

“I cannot put foundation on her face,” she recalls thinking. “I just can’t.”

She tells Beyonce she’s finished.

“No, Boo, makeup takes two hours,” Beyonce said to her.

Roncal says she doesn’t know where in her it came from, but she said, “Girl, with your face and my makeup, it takes 10 minutes and you’re ready to go.”

She remembers thinking this could end her career.

A week later, a call comes from Beyonce’s agent. Of the three movie premieres she attended in New York, Los Angeles and London – with three different makeup artists – she decided she wanted Roncal’s look for her upcoming blockbuster tour.

“See what that girl’s doing for the next year,” Beyonce said.

Roncal went on tour.

“It changed my life because I trusted my gut,” she said.

We so often toss out these lines like “You do you” and “Be true to yourself” like they’re a given, but they’re not. We hesitate. We cave. We quit. We question. And while that is human, so is having confidence when we have a strong feeling.

Killinger had a strong feeling that she wanted to host a podcast and now she’s doing what she calls her “passion project.” My God, the hour on this first episode also includes getting Roncal to open up about the day her mother died when she was 17. Good thing there were tissues on set.

Keep selling me this kind of provocative, emotionally intelligent show content.

I’m here for it.

[Editorial Note: This is my 22nd installment in a series I began in order to give my writing some flow after being in a healing phase from knee surgeries for a year (2023-24).]