Lisa Joyner Talks Reconnecting Loved Ones On TLC’s ‘Long Lost Family’


Lisa Joyner is one of the hosts of TLC’s ‘Long Lost Family’ and the network’s special ‘This Is Life Live.’ Photo Credit: Courtesy of IMPR

Lisa Joyner takes us on her journey to reconnect loved ones on TLC’s ‘Long Lost Family’ and share the love in the network’s ‘This Is Life Live.’

For Lisa Joyner, her work in television isn’t just entertainment; it’s personal. Lisa is one of the hosts of TLC‘s Long Lost Family, helping people reunite with the loved ones they’ve been searching for.

And tonight, you’ll be able to see her not only in the season finale of Long Lost Family, but also co-hosting the network’s This Is Life Live, which shares life-altering moments as they happen tonight and Wednesday.

Hidden Remote connected with Lisa to discuss the second season of Long Lost Family, her excitement over This Is Life Live, and what being on these very personal journeys with people means to her.

Hidden Remote: You’re about to conclude Season 2 of Long Lost Family. Did you learn anything from the first season that carried over into this season?

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Lisa Joyner: We did. It’s a little bit different but what we learned was basically the connection you have with the people that you’re talking to is crazy important. One of the reasons that Long Lost Family works is because of the intimacy that we have. It goes far past me. It’s with the crew.  We have a very small crew. The more intimate you can be the better the outcome. These people have to feel safe with you. So what we found after doing a season of it, is that intimacy is paramount

Also, we learned a little bit more about what kind of stories we wanted to tell. People were like oh, there’s a lot of twists and turns in Season 2. Well, it happens because people don’t want to tune in every Sunday and see the exact same story. They like the differences and complexities.

Hidden Remote: This is a subject you know personally, as you were adopted and you and your husband have also adopted. Has that helped you with Long Lost Family?

Joyner: Without a doubt. Maybe there’s someone out there that could do it better, but when you’ve been through it? When I sit across from a person and I see them shaking, trying to cover it up and hold it in, I know what they’re going through. I know what their stomach is doing right then. I know that their head is spinning.

Very few of us have ever been in that position, especially being on a television show and doing this. People say thank you for doing this and it’s like, I appreciate you saying that but it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to share what [the show’s second host] Chris [Jacobs] and I do. It’s not hosting. It’s taking someone on a life journey. Without that sort of personal experience, I think it’d be much more difficult to do the job.

Hidden Remote: Are there episodes that are particular favorites for you?

Joyner: It’s hard because I do half of the show, so I watch the show and see Chris’s stories and go, oh that was so great. We go our separate ways; we don’t see each other until the season is over. What would I would say as far as what I’ve done, the one that really touched me was the story of Doug looking for his biological mother. He and his brother were basically abandoned by her when they were five, six years old.

We were in some really cold place and he sat down and I asked how he was doing and he just started bawling. He had been so desperate to find this woman and find out answers of why he’d been left. The really tragic part of it was that his brother never really got over it. He had some psychological issues and he ended up taking his own life. [Doug] was doing this as much for him as the memory of his brother.

The part you don’t see on the show is that his biological mother, she went through extreme depression. She was kind of a shut-in and she could not sort of connect with anybody on a personal level. When she saw her biological son walk through that door, she stood up and hugged him and held him through the entire reunion.

This is a woman who was never able to touch people. She couldn’t have physical contact. But the love of her son and that reunion changed her emotionally and also physically, and to witness that was amazing.

Hidden Remote: We know what the subjects take away from being on Long Lost Family, but what have you come away with after two seasons?

Joyner: A lot of things. No matter what the circumstances, even if it’s really difficult circumstances, everybody desires their biological link. There’s a part of us intimately that wants to be genetically bound to some other being. It’s bigger than we want their love and acceptance. It’s just a common thread.

It’s so common that sometimes when I tell people we found this person that they’ve been searching for most of their life, they don’t even ask if they want to meet them. They’re just so pleased it’s actually happened and they can let go of this search they’ve been doing for so long and so desperately. And I’ll stop them and say do you want to know if they want to meet you? Oh yes, do they want to meet?

We call it the reveal. The moment when I find them and I tell them, you can see their body change, their physicality, and 80 percent of the time they say that they feel like they’re lighter.

Hidden Remote: You’re also hosting This Is Life Live, which is completely different. How much fun is it to host a live show?

Joyner: I was in live news for years and years. Things go wrong and you just make the best of it. (laughs) They called me and said we really want you to do this show and I was ready to say no. I was like I’m tired, I travel too much. Then they told me what it was and I said okay, where do I sign? It’s such an amazing opportunity for these people and viewers to see this actually happening live. You’re witnessing it as we’re witnessing it. There’s no editing, no adding music, it’s what’s happening.

Hidden Remote: What’s better for you—live television or pre-recorded television?

Joyner: I like live. With Long Lost Family, I treat it as if it’s live. This is live for these people, this is their life event, so I treat it as live. I don’t wear an earpiece. I don’t listen to producers. We talk about what it is, we talk about the story, we talk about what we found out and investigated, and then for lack of a better term, it’s live. I enjoy that. I enjoy the excitement of it. Doing This Is Life Live is going to be thrilling because the viewer watching should be able to be in on it.

Hidden Remote: Is there anything you want the viewing audience to know as we go into these experiences?

Joyner: I want to thank people for their support. For Long Lost Family in particular, it’s been a 15-year journey for me to get this show on the air. I’m not producing this, I’m just hosting it, but these are real stories, real people, it’s very compelling television and I’m glad that finally the industry has said this is worth it and it’s viable and the people have rallied around it. That the numbers are so good and it’s such a hit for TLC is icing on the cake for me. Just being able to tell these stories and for this kind of show to be legitimate has made me so happy.

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You can catch Lisa Joyner in TLC’s Long Lost Family at 9/8c and then in This Is Life Live at 10/9c.  The current season of Long Lost Family is also available any time on demand, and be sure to follow Lisa on Twitter at @mslisajoyner.