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]

* * * 

Follow Grae Drake on Twitter and Instagram.

No comments:

Post a Comment