By Hananh Yakobi
Photos courtesy of CTV
One of the leading celebrity experts in Canada, Lainey Lui is a Vancouver-based reporter of ETALK on CTV and is also behind the well-known celebrity gossip blog LaineyGossip.com. Lui is often invited to other media outlets across North America – both print and online – to provide her take on the latest celebrity gossip. A regular on the Red Carpets around the world, she has a strong sense of style and flair. She chats with FAJO Magazine about her travels, favourite Canadian designers and the interviews with Dustin Hoffman.
HANNAH YAKOBI: How is Vancouver? You must be very busy at this time of the year?
LAINEY LUI: Yes, in fact, I just got back from L.A. I was working on the Television Critics Association winter press tour, and my next assignment is the Sundance Film Festival for which I leave on Jan.18. It’s the award season right now, so this is essentially the busiest time for celebrity gossip and entertainment; from now until Feb.26, which is the Oscars. This is my favourite time of the year. To draw a sports analogy – everything else is the regular season, and from the beginning of January until the end of the Oscars is the playoff. A hockey or a basketball player would tell you that the playoff is what they re-retrain for and what they are waiting for. And this is true for me too – I’m super excited. It’s a lot of work, but also the most rewarding part of my job. It’s the time when the biggest stories come out.
You cover many different events on a regular basis. Do you have a favourite?
In this business, I think the biggest deal is always going to be the Oscars. It is the most watched, the most glamourous, the most prestigious event. On a personal level, in terms of Canada and home, I would say it’s the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ve covered it for five or six years in a row and I love it.
You constantly interview celebrities. Which moments stand out the most?
There are many great moments. Because celebrities are entertainers, their job is to give you an experience that you’ll remember. Have I ever witnessed a celebrity freak out, burst into tears or behave badly? Yes, many times. I think that the most interesting part for me is to get behind the scenes, and to really observe the celebrities. What you see on TV and on a cover of a magazine is certainly very packaged and deliberate, but the reason why I think my blog continues to attract readership is because people want the behind-the-scenes, stripped-down reality of celebrities, and they want to know what the celebrities are really like.
Can you tell us a bit more about your most pleasant or unpleasant experiences to date?
For every bad experience and for every brat, it’s always nice to know that there is a veteran out there who is a total pro. And that’s the Dustin Hoffmans and the George Clooneys of the world.
I have interviewed Dustin Hoffman twice and I would consider both interviews to be some of the best I ever had.
Most celebrities answer the same question the same way, over and over again, because they talk to reporters all day. They seem to think that it’s such an inconvenience for them and they hate it, meanwhile making millions and millions of dollars.
But Dustin Hoffman makes every interview special for the reporter he is talking to. He takes it very seriously. He even goes over the allotted amount of time, to make sure that that reporter gets to go back to their office with the good [material]. When I interviewed him, he was so funny and so generous. And at the very end he asked if the interview was ok or if I needed more information.
The same is true for George Clooney: he is always polite, never impatient. He will spend an hour with his fans or the press. He doesn’t complain and understands this part of the job.
Fashion and entertainment are generally very closely related. Which designers do you normally wear?
For the Red Carpet, it’s on a case-by-case basis. We have a stylist on ETALK and she starts pulling outfits for us about three weeks ahead of each event. We also try to promote Canadian designers whenever we can and we have clothing sponsors. My clothing sponsor on a day-to-day basis is French Connection. But for the Red Carpet and special events, I tend to wear whatever I want. Sometimes I dress myself. Last summer at the MuchMusic Video Awards, I wore Christopher Kane. At a Red Carpet event last month, I wore Yigal Azrouel. I also wear a lot of Alexander Wang.
Do you have a favourite Canadian designer?
Sunny Fong is great. And there are some other really, really great Canadian brands. For example, I love Mackage and was thrilled to shop at their store in New York. There is also a great store in Vancouver, called Basquiat, and it has lines that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else, certainly not in Vancouver. They sell a lot of Barbara Bui and I love her shoes. They also have a great collection of Belstaff. I check out The Room and Holt Renfrew on a regular basis as well.
How does the fashion in Toronto compare to Vancouver?
I’m based in Vancouver and I’m probably in Toronto twice a month. I think that there is more diversity of style in Toronto.
What do you love best about your job?
The people I get to work with. We have a really great team at ETALK. We have to travel a lot together, so it really becomes like a working family. It’s been really rewarding to have that. And for my blog, the best thing about my job is that I get to have a conversation with millions of people on my favourite subject – celebrities!