Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On the Red Carpet with OMG! Insider's Mary Kitchen

When it comes to fashion and entertainment, Canada's own Mary Kitchen has always had her finger on the pulse. She was a correspondent on shows such as Red Carpet Diary, FTV's In Fashion and City's Breakfast Television before packing her bags and moving to LA to join the OMG! Insider (formally The Insider) team. 

While in the city covering the Toronto International Film Festival, Mary sat down with us to talk about family, fashion and her much-deserved success.

TorontoVerve: Tell us about your childhood. Who was Mary Kitchen before all the success? 

Mary Kitchen: That is a good question. I think I was just like any other kid growing up in New Brunswick. I spent a lot of time with my little sister and I was the eldest so I took care of everybody. My aunt tells a story about when I was 2 years old and I supposedly brought her into my bedroom and then proceeded to explain every outfit that worked together in my entire wardrobe. So maybe I always had [that flare for style]. When I was in high school, there wasn’t a lot of coverage of fashion or the entertainment business so my joy came from magazines. I was obsessed with supermodels and cutting out pictures of clothes, hair, make-up and jewelry. But I was also a sporty kid. I was really into horses, cross-country running, soccer and playing lots of sports.

TV: Where did your love for show business come from in New Brunswick? 

MK: I think it all came naturally together with my love for fashion and doing theatre. When I was 6 years old, I remember telling my dad that I really want to be one of those kids in a toothpaste commercial and he kinda looked at me like I was crazy because that just wasn’t a thing. I also learned a lot of jingles. There was this Shell jingle and it went like this [sings lyrics]. I remember all of that.

TV: So you had aspirations of being in commercials as a kid? 

MK: Not really. I just was interested in what people said on television and learning their lines. I was really as interested in pop culture as I was theatre.

TV: Can you share a little about your family? 

MK: I’m extremely close with my brother and sister. I grew up with my cousins, aunts and uncles up at my family’s cottage. Those are probably my best memories: being in the water all day, lots of waterskiing, windsurfing, canoeing and going to family regattas. There was a tub race and winning the trophy basically defined your entire year. Those are probably some of my fondest childhood memories. My mom and dad are just so not show business-type people and it’s interesting because people always tell me: “your parents must love watching you on the show...” And I respond, “they think it’s fine.” [laughs] But it’s not something that anybody in my family has ever done.

TV: What advice from your mother do you still hold dear? 

MK: Well, she always says that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, and I kinda try to do that. My mom is the sweetest lady that you can possibly imagine. She is honestly an angel from another planet so I’d be proud to have any of her qualities. And my mom is definitely not into beauty and fashion. She could care less about how she looks and I never understood that. The first thing I say whenever I see my mother is “mom, what’s with your hair? Do you want a little eye-liner? How about some lip-gloss? What’s going on with this look?” [laughs] And she just giggles and laughs. Sometimes the critic in her comes out and she comments on my hair on the show. And it’s funny because she never applies her feedback to herself.

TV: I’m a dog lover so I have to ask: do you still have Celery, your black lab? 

MK: Noooo, I don’t have Celery. She passed away 2 years ago and she is one of the most special things to ever happen to me. This year was the first time that I actually took her up to my cottage and sprinkled her ashes up there. That’s kind of weird and morbid, but I honestly have to say that it was so painful for so long because she really was my best friend. My friends and I always joke that she had a British accent because she was kinda a bit uptight and highly intelligent.

TV: Did she really save your life in a fire? 

MK: Yes, my house burnt down when I was in university and she woke me up. I can still remember her licking me and barking. At the time, I thought I was dreaming, but when I finally opened my eyes I was literally surrounded by flames and smoke. Had I waited another minute, I probably wouldn’t have gotten out.

TV: Is there anyone special in your life right now? 

MK: There is. There is a new relationship in my life. He’s amazing. We’ll see. I mean it’s very new so we’ll see.

TV: He’s from LA? 

MK: He’s from the East Coast, which I like. There are a lot of girls who [are new] to LA and the guys there can sense it. So you learn very quickly to seek out guys from the East Coast. I mean I’m from New Brunswick. If a guy does his hair more than me, that’s just not going to fly back home.

TV: You once dressed the stars for the Oscars and Grammy’s.  Can you tell us about that experience?

MK: When my girlfriend Diana was 21, she opened a store called San Remo and it became a really famous little boutique on St. Thomas Street right off of Bloor Street West. The celebrities would walk in and say, “Oh I’d love to wear something like this to the People’s Choice Awards or the Oscars.” And we’d say, “let us style you.” And for some reason they trusted us.

TV: Who were some of the celebrities you helped style? 

MK: We styled Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Heather Locklear was a great customer. She came in all the time and we’d send her things and put outfits together for her. That was when I was at grad school. To have the background in fashion, journalism and acting really prepared me for what I’m doing right now. My girlfriend Diana in particular who started the store -- she’s a huge inspiration. She really taught me everything I know about fashion.

TV: What is your greatest heartbreak that you would attribute to motivating you to reach your success today? 

MK: That is a good question. I guess all the things that I haven’t gotten ended up helping me do what I’m doing now. I was on a CBC reality show called Fashion File Host Hunt (10 contestants competing to be the show's new host) and it came down to me and the other guy and he got it. I remember thinking that maybe I wasn’t meant to do this, but then I was offered a job on the Fashion Television channel. I’ve gone to a million auditions and many times I didn’t get the part that I had my heart set on. Last year, there was a role I wanted, but I couldn’t do it due to scheduling conflicts and that broke my heart, but then another movie opportunity came up this year. It’s just the way it goes. What amazes me about the heartbreaks is when you do get your heart broken, you really know that you want to be in this business when you go at it again. That almost assures you that you’re doing the right thing because you’re like, 'Wow! That really sucks, but I still want to do this! How crazy am I about this business?' That’s great!

TV: You’re currently a correspondent for OMG! Insider. How did that great opportunity come about? 

MK: A friend of mine had my tape and somebody there ended up seeing it and they asked me to come in. I worked in LA off and on and I kept getting calls. I always thought it was a fun thing to do, but I felt that it was never going to actually be a permanent thing. And when it happened, I was ecstatic. I got to meet the people who I was working with and I learned the concept behind this new show. They really wanted it to be conversational not presentational and to me that was very exciting.

TV: You covered Rihanna’s 7-7-7 tour. It’s been widely reported that Rihanna virtually ignored the journalists on the plane and instead of Rihanna being the story, the journalists’ frustration for her ended up being the story. What was that experience like for you personally? 

MK: That was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. You’re right -- the journalists did become the story. They really had a collective meltdown. You have to understand there were over a 150 entertainment journalists who were missing from their newsrooms back home and they didn’t have a story. Tensions definitely ran high. I’ll tell you a story about when I was really annoyed. We were sitting on the airplane for 4 hours in Paris [waiting for Rihanna] and it ended up that she was photographed that day shopping. I thought to myself: 'I wish that I was shopping. Why didn’t Rihanna just tell us that she was going shopping so we all could have a shopping day?' But having said that, on that last night in New York, I watched every second of her show because she is magnetic. I love her fashion. I think she’s really unique and she really has that IT factor. That to me is infinitely watchable. When she got up on that stage, I was dancing and loving every minute of it. It showed me that I had some serious endurance because I still wanted the story. At the end, I was there with my microphone thinking, 'I know she’s going to talk to me.' She didn’t, but I still believed that I could get the story. I think it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

TV: It’s interesting that you went through all of that and your personal feelings about Rihanna hadn't changed. 

MK: No because she kinda does whatever she wants and to see it firsthand like that for a superstar that big was interesting. In Germany, she was 2 hours late for her show and the audience was booing her, but as soon as she got up on stage, everyone forgave her instantly. I think it takes huge star charisma to pull that off and she does.

TV: You’re currently covering TIFF.  Which celebrity interview stands out the most for you? 

MK: Julia Louis-Dreyfus was really cool. She has the most Emmy nominations--more than any other female in television history. She’s a real star. And I love James Galdolfini so much. [When he was alive], he was one of the stars that I didn’t want to meet because I didn’t want to be disappointed with him. So to sit there and talk to her about this really sweet film that they made together [called Enough Said] was really special. You know, it’s very strange because I never wanted to interview him before and now I’ll never get the chance. I also met Julia Roberts for the first time. She’s another one who has that crazy star charisma. This is my favourite time of year. I love the Toronto International Film Festival and it’s my 7th year covering it in a row and I hope I get to cover it for as long as possible. It’s so nice to see so many friends. You go to the red carpet and it’s great catching up with all the reporters, stars, directors, agents, producers, publicists and the camera guys. It’s a lot of fun.

TV: How would you rate the fashion you’ve seen at this year’s TIFF? 

MK: Alicia Vikander who stars in The Fifth Estate was wearing a strapless Erdem the other day and it was absolutely beautiful. I love that she was wearing a Canadian designer, but just a different shape -- something modern and fresh on the red carpet. Oh my God, Olivia Wilde had some crazy make-up going on and it was really fresh. Gone was that typical smoky eye and the bronze skin. Instead, she had this really defined black line with cobalt-like electric blue on top. It was simple and cool. I love seeing things like that. Something that’s different. When people take chances, it’s always fun.

TV: How would you describe Toronto street style? 

MK: Very urban obviously. You can tell that the girls here follow fashion blogs. I think that’s exciting. I do too, and not because of work, but because I want to. Fashion in Toronto is very eclectic. Different parts in Toronto have different styles. It’s like New York. You can define New York style from its different boroughs. Toronto is the same. You can pick out the Queen West girl versus the Yorkville girl....

TV: And the Kensington Market girl. 

MK: Yes, the Kensington Market girl. You’ve got many different vibes going on here and we need to see more of it. For a while, we’ve seen that same long blown out hair, same make-up and the same black dress with studs. I love it when someone wears a weird plaid coat with fluorescent nails, no make-up and maybe just lip-gloss or a ponytail. That just shakes the whole fashion world up a bit and I think that’s when you see the best street style.

TV: You had a part in the Kick-Ass 2 as a news reporter. Are we going to see more acting credits for Mary Kitchen on IMDB in the near future? 

MK: I think so. I have just signed with the Amanda Rosenthal Talent Agency here. I hadn’t really done a lot of acting in the last few years because I just haven’t had time. Agents get so frustrated with me because I can never go [to auditions]. I’m always at an interview or voicing something. So I hope I can do a little bit more acting in the future.

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