Elaine Lui (a.k.a. Lainey Gossip) is one of Canada’s most recognized entertainment hosts—a strong, charismatic woman that doesn’t shy in her words or when it comes to her style. Her Hollywood interviews, scandalous scoops and overall hilarity makes her nothing short of addictive to watch. She’s also penned a book, Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), which, among other things, documents her sometimes strained relationship with her mother. So, how does this Toronto-born writer, reporter, host and personality keep motivated and what advice does she have for those wishing to follow in her footsteps? Read on.
29Secrets: What made you interested in working in entertainment with a focus on gossip?
Elaine Lui: I did have a passion for gossip and celebrities. I also did believe, although it hadn’t fully crystallized in my mind at the time, but I always knew it was a bigger conversation than just who’s wearing what and who’s dating who.
How do you maintain success in this type of industry? What skills do you think take you far?
Anybody who does my job, that includes entertainment reporters, talk show hosts and bloggers, I think that we still need the skills you need when it comes to reporting. You need to do your research, you need to be objective and you need to be curious. I hope that people can appreciate that people who do this job are not like vapid and materialistic–storytelling is a valid form of communication that can, in many ways, bring us to a better understanding, and that’s very important.
What makes a good interview?
Well, I like talking so when I’m engaged in a discussion I’m fully engaged. It’s about having a conversation whether to get to know one another a little better, or at least have an exchange of ideas with a friend or someone you want to do business with, for example. The same thing is true in a celebrity interview to some extent, the difference is it’s almost an artificial setting you know? The publicist has arranged it, etc. But either way, at the end of the day both people have to participate. The best interviews aren’t really dependent on me, they are dependent on the subject, they have to want to be there, want to communicate, want to have that exchange of ideas.
Any real standout interviews that moved you?
I had a great interview with Judy Blume a couple of years ago, actually I interviewed her twice in one day. So, it’s Judy Blume, of course she was going to be interesting and interested in me—and that’s not vanity speaking—simply just a fact that you can’t have a meaningful discussion when two people aren’t fully accessing their curiosity.
When it comes to style who grabs your attention? Who inspires your choices?
Ha, well, the first person that came to mind was Rihanna but I would never want to compare myself to Rihanna. However, I really like how Rihanna will challenge with fashion, you know combat boots, oversized jackets, those are items I like.
When watching The Social it’s clear to see each woman has her own look, I am personally drawn to yours the most. How would you describe it?
Well it’s funny because a lot of people don’t seem to necessarily get what I’m wearing on The Social. I like different shapes. I prefer loose over tight, body-con outfits. The dress I wore on the red carpet at this year’s Oscars was probably the most body-con as I’ll get. I like drop crotches, baggy clothes and I’m not big on belts. The goal is never to be pretty, it’s to be interesting. Actually Nicole Kidman gave a really good quote recently. She said she likes to be “polarizing in fashion” and that’s what I like too. Honestly I’d rather you hate it than like it but that might just be the shit disturber in me. I appreciate comfort and I don’t want to be safe.
Is it difficult to turn off after the busyness (and long hours) that comes with working in entertainment?
In my off hours I’m pretty quiet in the sense that I don’t go to parties all the time, but when I’m at the party I’m there to party. However, I have become more selective of where I go and how often. At home I have two dogs — oh ya and a husband (laughs), and we run our business together so it can be hard to separate down time from being “on.” But, to be honest, I don’t really need much of a switch on or off when it comes to brain activity. I can still be writing at home or speaking to my husband about the direction of the business, sometimes that can go to 10PM or 11PM at night, but I think that speaks to my passion — I’m kinda obsessed.
What does working in this industry mean to you?
It’s honestly a privilege. I’m not a single mom or dad that has to work at a job he or she may not love because he/she needs to support their children. I live in a time when we can have the privilege of doing what we love. My parents were immigrants so doing what you love never occurred to my dad, it was “I gotta get a job, any job.” Jobs weren’t for your soul they were food.
It’s really easy to complain and get caught up in our little narcissistic bubble, but that’s something I’m woking on myself and people have reminded me and checked me when I’ve been bratty. I have good friends who will remind me “but remember you work at a job you love.”
You’re on camera or in the public eye a lot, do you have any beauty essentials you swear by?
I recently tried these Yes To Tomatoes charcoal facial wipes and I loved them. The work really well and I used them to take off my makeup after the Oscars. I also love Aveeno lotion. I know it’s not this glamorous thing, but my dad got me into it. He has one of the most severe cases of psoriasis in Canada and years ago I was at their home just grabbing shit — you know how you do that when you go back to your parents? Anyway, I grabbed it and I’ve loved it ever since.
Let’s talk current addictions: Favourite song?
Favourite song at the moment, like right this second, “Selfish” by Rihanna and Future.
Oh, Big Little Lies for sure, it’s so f*cking good. I’ve read the book and I know exactly what happens and it’s still amazing. The plot almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the relationship between the women.
Follow more of Lainey’s life here.
Photos courtesy of Bell Media