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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Heather

"Whenever life gets you down, it's important to remember to face the darkness -- instead of trying to run away from it. Because you can never really run away from it. It'll only get worse. Turn around and face it head-on."

Heather is a musician who sings old country and blues cover songs. "Someone once said I sound like Joni Mitchell. That's a pretty big compliment. I started playing guitar because I wanted to jam with my friends around campfires, but now it's taken on a life of its own."

Her first solo show is happening tonight at Cafe Embargo in Parkdale.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Charlotte

"My name is Charlotte and I host a YouTube news channel for youth. I have just gone through a break-up, and lately I just don't feel like wearing make-up, looking good for anyone, or wearing a bra for that matter. Naturally the responses on the channel from viewers have been rude and sexist. 'What have you done to your face?', 'She looks like a man', 'she's flat chested' and so forth; which reinforces the fact that we live in a society where the value of women is determined by how much make-up they are wearing, how feminine and submissive they are, and whether or not their breasts are popping out of their shirts. I am not only beautiful, I am kind, I am smart, I am talented, I am funny and I am generous. I am a woman and I am so much more than my appearance. And I have nice tiddays so suck it!"

That's a direct quote from one of Charlotte's Instagram posts and when I saw it on my feed, I reached out to her to find out what led her to share such a deeply personal story.
Charlotte: "I always tried so hard to be this perfect girl with the perfect make-up and lashes, but now I want people to see me for who I am. Instagram posts are usually fake and I wanted to share something that was real to help people. It's been also therapeutic hearing some of my followers' responses. I don't know -- maybe I shared too much, but I was just so angry at the time. I just wanted something good to come out of it and inspire people to feel happy to be who they are."

TorontoVerve: "You're one of the hosts of Information Overload on YouTube. It must be tough feeling all that pressure to always look your best for the camera."

Charlotte: "Yeah, I don't have a make-up artist. I spend hours on my make-up and hair. I try my best to look like the ideal hot girl, but the fact of the matter is -- it's not about being a hot girl. I'm reading the news. I'm trying to inform people. I don't want people to stare at me because they like my outfit. I want people to hear what I'm saying. Long story short -- most people weren't used to seeing me without my make-up so they were being rude and sexist. I stopped wearing a bra. I have breasts -- I'm just putting that out there, but certain shirts make it look like I don't. An alarming amount of people said that I was flat chested. Why aren't they commenting on my ability to do my job? Would they do that to a male host? Probably not. And I don't think that's fair."
TorontoVerve: "I hate those paparazzi photos exposing female celebrities without make-up. Who cares?"

Charlotte: "Exactly. Everyone was freaking out when [singer] Alicia Keys walked the red carpet without make-up. 'How could she not wear make-up in public?' This is how you don't wear make-up in public! Who knows? I might grow out of it, but right now, I'm feeling good without it. Remember -- someone might fall in love with your face, but they'll stay with you for your personality."
Follow Charlotte on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. And catch her on Information Overload.

Monday, July 30, 2018

James

James: My style is very pattern and colour-influenced. I buy my fashion in a very specific place once a year: Nairobi. That's where I got this blazer - from a shop in East Leigh.

TorontoVerve: What's the best advice that you've received?

James: My grandmother once told me, "See your character in everything you do." I am able to be my authentic self in any situation, which attracts people who are drawn to that kind of humanness. And through them, I can see myself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sophia’s Starry Style

Sophia Nasr is an astroparticle physicist with a flare for fashion and a steadily growing social media presence, largely due to her passion for the cosmos and her outspoken voice against inequality. We got together to talk about many things – both in and out of this world.
Sophia Nasr: This is a custom print dress from Shenova Fashion. They do a lot of science-themed dresses like Saturn and space-time warp prints. My dress is from the Millennium Simulation of the dark matter cosmic web. I got it when I graduated from my undergrad and wore it to my convocation. I’m now doing my PhD in dark matter at the University of California, Irvine.



TorontoVerve: As a child, what was the spark that got you interested in the universe?



SN: My mom used to take me out to see meteor showers. That really got me interested in the cosmos and black holes. I wondered if there was life beyond Earth. Dark matter was always a curiosity of mine. But it wasn’t always a straightforward path because I was living in my dad’s dream of becoming a medical doctor. But I inevitably found my true passion in university.
TV: Men dominate the faculty of physics and astronomy, but we’re seeing more women entering the field. What are some of the challenges that women face in the industry?



SN: It is dominated by men. At York [University], there was one female faculty member who taught a physics course. They were all great teachers, but sometimes you want to have a diverse set of role models. You want to be able to see people of colour and not just white men. I have nothing bad to say about York. It is a wonderful school and the people are great. But in terms of diversity, like most places, it needs work. The problem that women face in general is sexual harassment. There’s this thing called the “Whisper Net” where people share their stories about harassment among faculty members. They’ll tell you who to avoid, and that’s sad. If it’s commonly known that these faculty members are being inappropriate with students, then they should be removed. But they’re not – because of their status. It’s a tough world for women in physics.



TV: You once tweeted, "The more I discuss white privilege with white women, the more I see how difficult this matter is for People of Colour…”.



SN: Yes. When you discuss white privilege, the first people who deny it are white people. “How do I have white privilege if I’m poor?” It’s a systemic problem and you can’t solve it until white people acknowledge it. I hate when people say, “Well, colour doesn’t matter. I’m colour blind.” If it doesn’t matter, we wouldn’t be having these problems. 



TV: Well, it’s safer to say that colour doesn’t matter because then you don’t have to have those tough conversations about white privilege.



SN: Exactly. Talking about race is an inconvenience to many white people because it forces them to admit that there is a problem. 

TV: To resolve the shortage of women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) industry, what advice do you have for parents to encourage their daughters to pursue these fields?



SN: Parents should take their daughters to the Science Centre. Get them excited for sciences. Don’t girly them. Tell them they can accomplish whatever they want. When I was a kid, I was good at math. But in middle school, I didn’t want to be good because it wasn’t considered cool. None of my friends were good at math. But my parents always encouraged me. Thankfully, girls today have many role models to look up to, like astro physicist Katie Mack and Space Gal, Emily Calandrelli. 



TV: Did you ever feel that you had to dumb yourself down to make friends?



SN: Yeah. I remember we had to do the times table, 1-12. And I was nearly done and my friend next to me still had a long way to go. I slowed down because I didn’t want to be the weird one who finished first.
TV: What are some misconceptions that people have about science people?



SN: People tend to think what we’re introverted, we all wear glasses and we don’t get out much. But we’re super diverse. Look at me. I’m not the only physicist who has purple hair. We’re into fashion and we love to socialize. I tend to get a lot of, “Really? You’re in physics? I didn’t take you to be a physicist.” Well, what do you expect a physicist to look like?



TV: So you’re doing your PhD at the University of California, Irvine. What’s it like living in Orange County, California?



SN: It’s great. The weather is beautiful and I feel much better there. And there’s a diverse crowd. My brother is an actor in California so I actually get to hang out with both actors and space people. I also plan on getting into the entertainment industry with my science outreach like my role model, Neil deGrasse Tyson. 



TV: Will you be looking for a guest spot on the Big Bang Theory? [laughs]



SN: [laughs] No. I actually want to do real science.

***

Follow Sophia on Instagram, Twitter and her website.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rachel


My style is a clusterf@%# of vintage pieces. It's simple 90's mixed in with classic Calvin Klein and a dash of high fashion. I'm inspired by people who wear their clothes like they're wearing their soul on their body.

Follow Rachel AKA Blair Ryder on Instagram and Twitter.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lex


Lex: I studied fashion and discovered that style is too personal to understand. I design gender and non-conforming clothing. I did a couple of shows and love exploring that dynamic. When I was a kid, I was never really considered feminine. I just conformed to whatever I wanted to portray. Fashion was an outlet for me and exploring what that would look like in real life.

TorontoVerve: I interrupted you while you were doing some hoop action. What's that all about?

Lex: It's a meditative practice. It's a way of expressing myself through movement. I'm quite uncomfortable in a lot of situations and movement helps me get over it. I do hoops in public and that gives me the confidence to do any daily task.

Follow Lex on Instagram.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mark


Mark: My style can be described as everything from stag films to rodeos. I really like to take the imagination and push things as far as I can. 

TorontoVerve: What's the best advice that you've been given?

Mark: My father told me: "you can't save your face and your ass at the same time." 

TorontoVerve: Why did he offer that to you?

Mark: 'Cause I was always trying to save my face and I just needed to save my ass.

Follow Mark on Instagram.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Interview with Fashion Model Kelleth Cuthbert

In an industry as fickle as fashion modelling, it’s remarkable that Kelleth Cuthbert is still living her dream. Three years ago, she sold all her possessions and left Toronto for Los Angeles. That fearlessness and determination inevitably got her signed with Wilhelmina in Los Angeles and continues to drive her successful career.

I spoke with Cuthbert about the modelling industry, photo retouching and social media.

TorontoVerve: You’ve been a fashion model for over a decade, what would you say is the biggest contributing factor to your success?

Kelleth Cuthbert: I’ve consistently placed importance on being professional—being early to [my shoots] and being very adaptable for my clients. I think that’s definitely the key to longevity, being very easy to work with.

TV: What’s the most significant lesson you’ve learned in recent years?

KC: I think I’ve always known this, but I grew up with a focus on traditional values, believing I was obligated to follow a post secondary education in order to get a normal 9 to 5 job. This was the most important thing that one must pursue in adulthood, and I’ve discovered that I absolutely wanted no part of that. I wanted a different kind of life than my parents and peers had. I’ve learned to not be afraid of completely upheaving your life to pursue something different. 

TV: What is it about having a 9 to 5 job that’s unattractive to you?

KC: I feel like I’m an easily adaptable person. I could fall into a life like that and I could probably find some level of enjoyment from it. But if I’m truly being honest with myself, it’s not something I’ve ever desired. I think it’s such a luxury to not have to show up to the same place every day, and not have to see the same people every day. I don’t even know what city I’m going to be in a week from now—and that’s both terrifying and thrilling. I love the spontaneity of it all.


TV: You have a bachelor’s degree in social work…

KC: I do, and I used to work in mental health and addiction counselling.

TV: How has your background in social work been helpful in your current profession?

KC: I think it’s made me a better listener. I feel like I’ve always been a person that people feel comfortable sharing their stories with, and being on set can be kind of an intimate experience. You’ll travel with teams of people and spend a lot of time with them. It’s a good quality to be able to relate to everyone. I spend a lot of time with hair and make-up. I hear a lot of make-up artists’ stories [laughs]. It’s made me more in tune with what other people are experiencing.

TV: What is the biggest misconception that people have about being a fashion model?

KC: That it’s easy work, you just show up and stand there. It involves a lot of travel. Sometimes you have to work for no pay in the hopes of getting paying jobs. Everything is very last minute, so it’s hard to have any social life and make plans in advance.


TV: What are your thoughts about retouching in fashion photography?

KC: I have this theory about retouching: if something is temporary like a zit, it’s OK to take it out. But if it’s a birthmark or scar, then it’s up to the photographer to keep it or not. I think scars are interesting.

TV: It’s interesting that you say that. I retouch my street style photos, but I won’t erase someone’s birthmark or scar. I think I have more of a responsibility as a street style blogger to capture someone’s true self. 

KC: Yeah, it’s photo journalism.

TV: Exactly. I don’t want someone to be excited about getting their picture taken only to be disappointed that I took out their mole. I don’t want them to ask, “What’s wrong with my mole?”

KC: That’s true. Your responsibility is to document what is. Fashion photography is fantasy.  

TV: I captured your street style back in November 2010. If you can go back and tell your younger self anything, what would that be?

KC: Not be afraid to be myself. When I started modelling, I thought I had to be a blank canvas and I took that to the extreme. I tossed my personal style aside and I dressed in a neutral way so clients could envision me however they wanted. With Instagram, clients fortunately do want to see more of your personality and who you actually are. I think that gives models a little more room to experiment with their own personal style instead of being a blank canvas, and that’s exciting!


TV: Does Instagram enhance or hinder a successful modelling career?  

KC: Instagram is what you make it. I always tell people who are against it that you have to adapt or die. You need it to book jobs now—especially in Los Angeles. When you go to castings, a lot of clients want to know how many Instagram followers you have. It definitely factors into whether you book certain jobs. It’s a sad reality that it’s not just about your modelling skills anymore. It’s about your Instagram following and how other people perceive you. But it can also be a great tool. Clients don’t only see your book, which is what your agency selects as the way you should be seen. With Instagram, you can represent yourself as you want to represent yourself. Personality is now a thing. When I started 11 years ago, it didn’t matter what your interests were. People just wanted you to show up, throw on their clothes and shoot. Now people really do want a personality on set for these campaigns. 

TV: You’re married to a photographer, Christopher von Steinbach. How did you guys meet?  

KC: In 2010, I was in Los Angeles on vacation and I was looking for a few photographers to shoot with, and he was one of them. We went out for a shoot and got stuck in traffic—as one does in Los Angeles—and we just hit it off. I felt he was the best person I’d ever met. A year later, we both confessed our feelings for each other. He visited me in Toronto and then moved there two months later.

TV: Wow, must have been love if he moved from Los Angeles to Toronto.  

KC: Yeah, it was quite the sacrifice—especially because it was a brutally cold and grey winter that year.


TV: What’s it like being a model and having a photographer husband?  

KC: It’s pretty handy, but I think it’s annoying for him because I’m always bugging him to take my photo for Instagram [laughs]. His opinion is also very valuable to me. He’s informed my decisions about agencies. He’s definitely improved my portfolio.

TV: What are you most happy about these days?   

KC: I’m happy that I’m living a life that at times terrifies me. I don’t want to ever not do something because it’s difficult. I knew that this is the life that I wanted to live every day. I don’t want to be tied to anything—and I want to do everything. 


***
Follow Kelleth on Instagram.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Lexson


Lexson: My style is in the minimalist realm. It's nature meets carefree black boy.

TorontoVerve: What's the best advice that you've been given?

Lexson: My uncle in Saint Vincent told me that I can always achieve whatever goal I set out to do as long as I have the right attitude. I'm a model in Toronto and my success has a lot to do with believing in myself and remembering my uncle's words.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tenzin


I like humour and meaning in my style. I'm wearing something Asian and vintagy today. Tomorrow I'll wear something super gothic and maybe the next day I'll wear some Harajuku. I"m always doing different things to keep it fun.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Women, Fashion & Horror Fandom: Interview with Author Alexandra West

“It’s Halloween. Everyone is entitled to one good scare.” *

I love horror movies. There’s something thrilling about being terrified in the safety and comfort of my living room. I had the pleasure of talking to Alexandra West, the co-host of the popular podcast “The Faculty of Horror” and author of  “Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity". She shares her thoughts about women in horror and more.


TorontoVerve: Why do you think some of us like to be scared? 

Alexandra West: I think it’s because so much of pop culture is happy endings and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think that there’s an inherent darkness to the world. You have light and dark. I think horror films give us a safe way to explore those things. When you get to encounter horror as a fan, you’re entered into this whole new world with a life and death struggle and that’s really vital to a lot of people.

TV: What scares Alexandra West?

AW: Ghost ladies. I don’t know if I really believe in ghosts, but any kind of ghostly female figure shrouded in darkness really scares me. Also, the notion of being truly alone like when you’re lost in a house or a city. We rely so much on community and the people around us — so if something bad happens, we might be safe. But if you’re alone in the woods or if you’re looking for the Blair Witch, that’s terrifying to me.

TV: You once said when you discovered horror at the video store it was like discovering your people. Can you explain?

AW: I loved culture or the idea of culture when I was a kid and I hadn’t found a place where it really made sense for me to fit in. So when I found horror movies, they spoke to me so deeply. I loved being scared. I loved the characters. I loved the tropes and themes. Later on in life, I really started finding my people who are near and dear to me through horror.

TV: Which Final Girl (the last surviving woman in a horror film) do you relate to the most?


AW: She’s my favourite and, as I get older, I relate to her more and more: Sydney Prescott from the Scream franchise. I kinda grew up with that character. She’s smart and she’s strong. She’s confused and pissed off, but a good friend. She’s got a lot of conflict in her and a lot of unresolved issues. That’s what really drives the whole Scream franchise. I think because she’s a really multi-faceted character, I respond to her.


TV: In your book, you mention that France has rejected New French Extremity films because they’re a shameful reflection of its shady World War II past. How much of your perception of France has changed after researching its history and New French Extremity?

AW: It changed quite a bit. I consumed a lot of New French Extremity films and the more research I did, I learned that there wasn’t a big horror movement in France. I didn’t have the best high school history teacher so I had to teach myself French history from the ground up. I learned that France sought to cover up many of its atrocities. France has been marketed to us in a very cheesy way. You can’t go to a Winners or a Marshall’s without seeing these tacky boxes with the Eiffel Tower all over them. There are some amazing and beautiful things that happened in France, but there’s also so much darkness and I don’t think [the French] like to acknowledge that. Everybody was shocked with the Charlie Hebdo shooting. There’s such a long history of terrorism in that country. I think they’ve spent so long covering it up that it felt like New French Extremity was the thing that had to break through.

TV: You wrote the book in 9 months. What does binge watching New French Extremity over and over again do to your state of mind?

AW: My mom said that I looked like shit. [Laughs] It made me really anxious, sad and frustrated. The fact that these filmmakers were constantly putting themselves out there. They really were. They were screaming: “There’s some fucked up shit going on!” They were addressing it in a very visceral way. I was also reading reviews of them. While they were beloved and accepted in the horror community, mainstream film criticism hates them.



TV: I’m a big fan of "The Faculty of Horror" podcast hosted by you and Andrea Subissati. What I especially love about it is how you unpack horror films from an academic point of view. You guys validate horror films which don’t get much love from cinephiles or society in general. What overall response do you get from people outside the horror community when they discover your affection for horror?

AW: A lot of people are very shocked. I think they assume all horror fans look like Elvira and Vincent Price. There’s this immediate reaction — either they think it’s kind of cool or they say, “I hate horror films!” And I tell them: “That’s nice, but I didn’t ask.” There’s a kind of judgement, but I think that’s what a lot of horror fans have become used to. If you love horror, then you understand that most people are going to dismiss you for it. I’ve accepted that.

TV: Despite its racist overtones, I have a fondness for Gone with the Wind. I just have to get over the mammie images and "silly darkie" references, which were normal for its time. Horror -- especially in the 70s and 80s -- hasn’t always been kind or respectful to women. As a feminist, did you or do you have an awkward time watching some of these horror films?

AW: Oh, yeah. Horror is interesting because one of the reasons I love it so much is it often presents really dynamic female leads. You’ve got Sydney Prescott and the women from Black Christmas. You can name anything and there’s a great female character. Friday the 13th Part 7 has a very strong final girl in Tina who’s the telekinetic Carrie-esque figure who takes down Jason for a brief period. She’s an interesting character, but sometimes — even in the same scene — you get these horrible women who are just after money and sex. They’re just evil people. It’s become part of consuming culture as a woman. You’re going to have terrible portrayals of women even in films marketed towards women — like the Sex and the City movies. It’s kind of gross the way some of the women are portrayed. There are points where I decide to engage with it and there are points where I have to check out. Yeah, I know that these are some bad female representations, but this is a fun movie. I think of it kind of like a light switch. Most of the time I have it flipped on, but if I’m having a chill evening, then I could turn it off and enjoy it.




TV: What does it say about our society if audiences are rooting for the killers in horror movies?

AW: I think it goes back to your last question with these terrible portrayals of young kids. In a lot of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street films, the kids are really vapid, uncaring and selfish. They’re kind of like the bullies who pick on the horror nerds so you’re like, “Fuck yeah, Freddy. Go get them.” When in reality, there are facets to every person and you probably shouldn’t be rooting for even the bully to get it in the end. I think there’s such a toxic masculinity that feeds into those portrayals of Jason and Freddy. They are these figures that cut down youth and if the kids are weird or different, all the better. I don’t love that bombastic masculinity that kind of overtakes that love of horror. It feels very exclusive. Women don’t get to play unless they dress up as sexy Freddy Kruger at conventions.

TV: I learn a lot of survival tips from horror films. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre taught me to avoid exploring in dark woods and Irreversible taught me to not walk alone in poorly lit tunnels. What survival tip have you learned from horror movies?

AW: I go back to one of my favourites: always release the safety lock of a gun. I held a gun in a staged combat class and I did not like it, but if I need to hold a gun, I will remember to look for what I think is the safety and turn it off.



TV: Which horror films can fashionistas watch to find some really cool fashion inspiration?

AW: I think Dario Argento’s Suspiria — the entire aesthetic of that movie is beautiful, but I have a really big love for 70’s fashion. Suspiria provides a great balance between over the top and standard fashion. Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula has some of the most beautiful costumes ever committed to film. If you want some fashion eye porn, you can really be served by that film. When I think of stylish horror, I always think of Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. She’s got the head dress and the bikini top. It’s like the most bad ass version of Princess Leia’s gold bikini.


TV: How will you be celebrating Halloween?

AW: I will probably be at the Rue Morgue Halloween party. It’s on the Saturday before Halloween at the Velvet Underground. I still have to figure out my costume for that. Usually on Halloween proper, I’m a big fan of staying in and watching some horror films. I try to find something new that I haven’t seen before. Last year, I watched House (Hausu) for the first time and it did not disappoint. I don’t know what I’m going to watch this year, but I’m thinking about it. We shall see.

TV: What’s making you happy now?

AW: Seeing more women take on roles in different positions in the horror community. Andrea just became the Executive Editor of Rue Morgue earlier this year. Films like XX (an anthology horror film directed exclusively by women) are really cool. I recently saw Tragedy Girls and that has some really great portrayals of female friendship. I think in the midst of all of these Harvey Weinstein — I’m sure very factual — allegations, it feels like you’re defeated when you see more and more women coming forward. You think, “How has this been happening for so long?” But you kind of know why it’s been happening. I think of the women who are actively working in the industry and making change and making space for different people — whether it’s a male directed film with great female characters or women behind the camera or behind the computer for magazines. Women have so many different voices and they are starting to make things more inclusive for everyone in the horror community. People with different sexual orientations, people of colour and women can enjoy their horror fandom together. We’re all weirdos.

* Quote from the film
Halloween (1978)

Follow Alexandra West on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

Pre-order Alexandra's newest book "1990's Teen Horror Cycle: Final Girls and the New Hollywood Formula".

Monday, October 23, 2017

Matthew


My style is androgynous, but a little more sexy. I like showing off skin. My friend Som Kong designed my outfit. It fits my aesthetic.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rotten Tomatoes’ Grae Drake is Ready for her Close-up!

She’s the Senior Editor of Rotten Tomatoes and the wildest dressed film critic on the junket. Grae Drake talks about her extraordinary style, the movie that made her hug a stranger and Samuel L. Jackson reading her wedding vows.


TorontoVerve: How would you describe your style? 

Grae Drake: My style is whatever feels right for me in the moment. It’s really something that I feel works because if I have to think about it too much then I don’t know what works. It’s really an intangible thing.

TV: How does fashion play a part in your job? 

GD: Because a lot of my job is about media, doing appearances and being on television, I have to think about how I look more often than I would prefer to, but when I do, the way that I make it more meaningful to me is to use it as an expression of what’s going on with me. One of the things that is super important in the way that I present myself is that when I’m walking into an interview, it tells someone who I am. Having pink hair to start with and adding things on top of it may tell people that my crazy level is maybe at the ceiling, but then when I begin talking, they realize that it’s just a couple of feet below that. It’s nice to lull people into a false sense of security. Generally, I think that my style gravitates towards being fun.


TV: What was the best celebrity reaction to your style? 

GD: Overall, people’s reaction toward my style is so positive. That tells me ultimately that I’m doing the right thing. One of the best reactions happened when I was doing Iron Man 3 interviews. I had an Iron Man shirt that lit up like his power source in the chest. It was just a t-shirt and I had a cute jacket over it with a skirt. I also had high top, laced-up black sequined Converse, which are my favourite go-to shoes. So I walked into Gwyneth Paltrow’s room and I had a pre-conceived notion of who she was and what she might be like. And the minute that I walked into the room, she was like “Oh, my God! What is happening with you? You are the coolest person that I’ve ever seen. Before we even start your interview time, I have to find out everything.” We sat there and we talked for about a minute — totally off the clock because she knew I only had only four minutes and it would take me a lot longer than that to describe what I wearing. She was so nice to me and supportive. In subsequent interviews, she remembered me and we’re always chatting about what’s going on and what we’re wearing. She’s so nice and funny and that surprised me. It was a good lesson because she responded to what was in my heart.

TV: Colour is a big part of your personality. 

GD: I think so. The hair evolution took a long time and it was something that I never thought I would have. I’ve had a lot of hair colours. I was blond when I visited my current hair dresser Tonia Jost many moons ago. I was going through a break-up and I told her that I was feeling emotionally vulnerable and I just wanted to be brown again. And very gently she said, “I don't think you’re a brunette.” I told her to do her thing. I trust her and she’s very empathetic. She does things for your inside as much as your outside and that’s how pink started. It’s funny — I think back to me in high school when I had very long brown hair and I want to tell that girl that she’s going to grow up to become a girl with a pink mohawk and that’s going to feel right. [Laughs]

TV: Who styles your outrageous costumes for your interviews? 

GD: In the past, I have done the majority of work for my interviews on my own. I do style myself, but now the Rotten Tomatoes team is growing and supporting me in new ways. One of the biggest style achievements that I’ve been able to attain is largely due to Quentin Owens who helped me make four of the most amazing costumes for the San Diego Comic Con. Working with Quentin was the first time that I was able to actually collaborate with someone who knew better than I did about how to achieve something that didn’t exist. He’s amazing.


TV: You’ve mentioned the special connection that you’ve had with Gwyneth Paltrow. You’ve built relationships with the people you’ve interviewed. One that comes to mind is Samuel L. Jackson. 

GD: Ooohhh, I love Sam.

TV: How did your friendship with Sam even start? Was it developed through social media? 

GD: The first time I talked to Sam was at Comic Con and I was dressed as Lady Riddler. The look on his face when he realized that he was going to be interviewed by Lady Riddler was priceless. I put my hand out and I said, “Hi, Mr. Jackson. My name is Grae” and he said, “No, no, no. We’re going to hug.” [Laughs] And I was like “Yay!” The vibe was so amazing. I don’t know where it came from, but I asked him if he wanted to hear some riddles and he was like, “Hell, yes. I want to hear some riddles.” After that we followed each other on Twitter and exchanged messages. I think one of the reasons that we’ve continued to get along is because I feel the most understood by him out of the majority of people that I’ve spoken to. He really understands that I love movies. I like creating a real moment in a very artificial environment of junket interviews. He really gets me. And he read my wedding vows to my husband. [Laughs] Because every time I started reading my vows, I started to cry so I thought maybe I could just play them for my husband. If I could pick someone who gets me and read them in the voice that makes sense, it would be Sam. So I played Sam’s recording of my vows. What’s great about my husband is he was surprised and delighted, and then he was not surprised at all: “Oh, yeah. Of course. Sam Jackson read your wedding vows.” Sam is just like the most gracious, professional and warmest person. What’s even funnier is when most people speak to him, they think he’s going to be like his movie roles. The thing that I’ve learned most about is that the meanest people in the movies are often the nicest people in real life. And Sam definitely likes to play with that and when he senses that someone is nervous and thinks that he’s going to be Jules from Pulp Fiction, he likes to mess with them, and I like to mess with people too. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.


TV: Which movie you don’t want people to miss this year? 

GD: I feel that Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit was a watershed moment in my movie viewing because the way that it hit me finally dislodged something in my brain that I didn’t even know was there. In the movie there are two white girls who are completely outraged at what’s going on in the Algiers motel and they’re being mistreated terribly [by the police officers]. I thought, “Oh, my God. They have no idea that other people are being mistreated like this every day and they are so outraged that it happened to them. Now they see it when it’s happening to them.” The thing that Detroit did was help me understand that there was a part of me that was like them. And even though I still don't fully have that experience, I understand that I don’t understand. That’s big.

TV: It’s so interesting that you’re saying that because black film critics are saying that Detroit wasn’t made for Blacks because we’re all too familiar with racism. It was made for white people so they can understand the horrors of anti-black racism. 

GD: I was so moved and horrified. It was so important for me to see it. I saw it in a mostly empty theatre and I felt bad for the guy sitting near me because he had to hear me sobbing through the whole movie. When the credits were rolling, I was trying to calm down. I knew the guy was still there and I was super embarrassed. Finally I looked up at him and he just opened his arms and I totally hugged a stranger after that movie. I wondered: What are we going to do about this? It really makes me sad that no one saw Detroit. It’s not the kind of movie that I can tell people that they’ll have fun watching. It’s not that kind of movie. It’s important. It’s been an emotional year for some Americans. People want to escape and I understand why people don’t necessarily want to spend their hard earned money on their date night to see that film, but I really want them to so we can all talk about it. And I’m hoping when it gets all these award nominations that it will spur people to go and see it — in spite of the difficult time that they’re going to have watching it.

TV: I’m going to close on a "Pop Culture Happy Hour" question: What's making Grae Drake happy these days? 

GD: I really like Fall movie season a lot and I really like kicking it off [at TIFF]. It just feels right for my Southern California self. I’m happy that it looks like we’re going to see some new stuff. We don’t have to sit through the same movies about the same people anymore. I’m really jazzed about that. And I’m also a huge pumpkin spice latte person. The Fall is the best. [Laughs]

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Follow Grae Drake on Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Jae


Stevie Nicks' nomadic, flowy scarves and witchy elements inspire me. I practice contemporary witchcraft and magic factors into the way I dress.

Check out Jae's Instagram to learn about his spiritual explorations. "I do a lot of stuff with ancestral work. I feel that a lot of us -- especially People of Colour and queer and trans people of colour are really disconnected with our ancestry because sometimes we have to leave our family behind in order to be who we need to be. But the homophobia and the violence and oppression towards us comes from colonization and systematic erasure. If we go back far enough in our ancestry and look at our pre-Christian cultures and traditions, we see that queerness was celebrated. And what we call queerness was considered holy and sacred. I blog about how I reconnect with that and I try to help others reconnect with that too."


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sidney


I have an intimate relationship with what I wear.  I work with a lot of symbolism and things that develop from my experiences. It's who I am in a deeper sense. Sometimes I'll be feeling a certain way and I'll wear something that expresses that. Or I'll intuitively wear something that I'm not really sure why and then something will align that helps me realize what it is I'm going through that connects with that energy. So it's a certain art of bringing the sacred connection back into material form, which really resonates with me because in a lot of ways we're disconnected with that. It doesn't have to be that way. Everything is divine.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Julia


Julia: If a circus collided with a piñata  -- that would be me. That's my style.

TorontoVerve: What's the best advice that you've received?

Julia: You wouldn't care how much people thought about you if you realized how little they do. That was from my mom -- given to her from a friend's mother when she was younger. I figure that if you pretend to be really confident, people aren't going to look closely to find out that you're not. There's that and there's also: always make the bed in a hotel room before you leave because you find stuff.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Janaya


My dad told me, "F@#k society. Do whatever you please." I struggled for a while trying to find myself. I'm from a small town and the people were very judgemental. My dad saw what I was going through and gave me that piece of advice. It's helped. I know exactly what I want now.