EXCLUSIVE: Jane Lynch, TV's Go-To Host, on Bringing Wildlife Together for One Night

National Geographic

Fueling celebrity antics on NBC’s Hollywood Game Nighthas won Jane Lynch two Primetime Emmys (a broadcast she also helmed in 2011). Now, she has her sights set on the wild. 

On Sunday, July 9, the actress and beloved TV personality will host what could be considered the most massive full moon party in history. A two-hour television event, National Geographic’s Earth Live will showcase simultaneous wildlife footage from renowned cinematographers stationed in 30 locations across six continents.

“The wild is alive at night,” says Lynch, whose role on the special is to move the proceedings along as cameras capture, among other things, bull sharks off the coasts of Fiji, a breeding colony of flamingos in Mexico and a pride of lions in Kenya. “The prep work has been extensive, but what happens in the course of those two hours, no one knows. Will we see a predator take down prey? Will we see some mating?” 

Already playing host, Lynch explains that July 9 is the first full moon of summer: “There’s a particular light and lunar pull that causes animals to engage in activity, so we’ll get to see a lot of their behavior because it’s usually heightened around a full moon.”

Though a broadcast on this scale is unprecedented, Lynch’s experience behind the mic has prepared her for an anything-can-happen event like Earth Live. “That’s what I do with Hollywood Game Night as well, if you look at the celebrities as wild animals,” she jokes. “I love being the eyes of the audience, and watching people have fun,” she says of her affection for hosting, which extends to throwing parties at her house in Los Angeles.

The upcoming star of Discovery Channel’s Manhunt: Unabomber is also properly in awe of Earth Live’s magnitude. She’s hopeful that it will compel viewers to consider their place in the world -- a salient point given the country’s division over climate change. “The special will show that we’re not the only creatures on this Earth, and how we’re all interconnected,” Lynch says. “Sometimes as humans we think we’re the only, or the most important species on the planet. But we share this planet with a lot of other creatures, and we’ll get a bird’s eye view of what life is like for them.”

MORE: Jane Lynch Transforms Into Janet Reno on Discovery's 'Manhunt: Unabomber'

A go-to host in Hollywood, Lynch is herself a rare sighting in a herd of mostly men that populate everything from game shows to late night. “I think there’s kind of a firm mindset that it’s a male job, but that’s been loosening up a little bit,” she says, nodding to Ellen DeGeneres’s upcoming Ellen’s Game of Games on NBC. “Maybe we’ll get past the point where it’s just lesbian women that they’ll allow to host things, and extend it to the straight girls too,” she says with a laugh.

For her success in the field, Lynch credits her agent for thinking outside the box in her early days of auditioning, submitting her for roles written to be played by men. “It takes somebody willing to shake up the status quo,” she says, a sentiment that easily applies to the actress herself -- and incidentally, to the animal she says she’d most likely be.“A hyena minus the viciousness, because I love to laugh,” Lynch says. But, she adds, “My answer may change after Sunday night’s broadcast.”

Earth Live premieres Sunday, July 9, at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on National Geographic and will simulcast on Nat Geo WILD.