Check out our interview with Female powerhouse creative and producer Kara Alloway who is back and quickly becoming the go-to expert on reality show TV. The former ALLURE editor, and star of the Real Housewives of Toronto is serving audiences all the tea on the franchise and teasing her upcoming projects.
The self-proclaimed Regina George of Toronto is offering a peek behind the curtain and diving into the fascination that has taken over the world.
Follow Kara @karaalloway
Please tell us a little about you?
I was born in Toronto Canada. I studied English Literature at McGill University. After school I moved to LA (because I was looking for adventure and sun and the idea of backpacking through Europe was just not my thing) and I worked at a posh Beverly Hills restaurant as their private party coordinator. It was the mecca for Beverly Hills’ Ladies Who Lunch. That’s where I met Kathy Hilton. She was so fun and offbeat I loved her from day one. At one point I worked at a store she had on the Sunset Strip called The Staircase. If Kris Jenner is the “Momager” then Kathy Hilton is the “Mompreneur”; she is such a fantastic saleswoman and business owner. Anyways it was while working at the restaurant that I met the Condé Nast HR staff and landed my job with ALLURE. When they asked me to send them samples of my writing for consideration in hiring, I sent one of my university essays “Hamlet’s Fatal Flaw of Procrastination”. I think they thought I was just the right amount of kooky to work at a magazine and I was hired. Linda Wells was always looking for good writers first and foremost, so they must have appreciated my writing skills. That and I called them every day for three weeks to see if they wanted to hire me. I’d never done that before it’s so out of character for me to be pushy like that, but it thought “why not? What’s the downside? I’m never going to see these people again to be embarrassed.” It worked. I was at ALLURE from the very early days, and it was such a fantastic life experience for me. I learned so much and am so grateful for that time and opportunity. Several years later, I was home in Toronto visiting, and I met my husband at a party. That was it for me. I knew he was the one and I moved back here. We were married a year later, had three boys, and lived unpredictably ever after. After I did Real Housewives of Toronto, I knew I wanted to produce so, I got an unscripted agent in L.A. and developed my first reality TV idea. It was optioned by a big-time production company, and we did a sizzle. My career was put on hold somewhat thanks to the pandemic, I currently have three unscripted projects in development.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Tenacious, sassy, surprisingly gritty.
Who is your biggest supporter?
This is tough. It’s a five-way tie between my mom, my husband, and my boys. But, if we are talking who’s supported me the longest, it’s my mom for the win.
Best advice ever given?
If you want to get a parking spot, you must be prepared to go around the block.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
The Wealthy Barber. (And can I just add that every young woman should read Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman)
What is the key to your success?
I want to say I don’t give up. I mean privately I say, “I give up” and cry in my bed and say “I’m done that’s it.” But I get over myself and go at it again. I never really give up. I have a ton of gratitude for what I have and loads of hope for the future.
Tell us about the Reality TV experience on the “Real Housewives of Toronto?”
I had friends on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills so, I thought I knew what was coming at me. It was much more mental gymnastics than I had anticipated. You only film for a few hours, a few days a week, but those days are nothing short of exhausting. I have a very high emotional intelligence, I feel deeply and can’t come out unchanged from experiences, which meant I was destined for Villain-hood from the get-go. I don’t think production was prepared for what they had to deal with while filming. I found myself at so many instances saying internally “crap this is boring I have to juice it up somehow” – that’s was my biggest Achilles, I kept producing the show whilst being a participant. At one point I’ve had a falling out with the other cast members, but they were scheduled by production to do watersports at my summer home. In real life, I would have cancelled but that’s not an option when you have a preplanned filming schedule so I asked myself “why would I ever host them here? What’s my motivation?”. And Bing – I came up with a “revenge” storyline. It was brilliant for television, not so good for my personal character. But pros play injured, so I did what I had to do to move the action along and not have viewers change the channel. Every potential Housewives producer should have to attend The Alex Baskin School of Reality Television, or at least intern with Evolution Media or Truly Original Media for a few years.
How did you got selected for the show?
I had pitched a reality tv show to the production company a few years earlier and they convinced me that appearing on the show would be a good way to get my own show moving into development. I assisted them with the casting and brought them one of the participants…who ended up being my nemesis…but it was good casting.
How has your life changed after the TV Show?
Honestly, I’m a much more guarded person when it comes to trusting people. I don’t let many people get close to me. Before I was always “taking in strays” but now…closed circle.
How was your relationship with the other cast members?
My life didn’t intersect with theirs before the show, so it was odd for everyone to be thrown together and have to act like friends. Production cast three other participants who were very tight friends; there was a group mentality there to protect each other at all costs which made things limiting.
Do you guys had a script on what to do or say?
No there was no script…for me. However, every scene has a director, and you wear a microphone pack, there’s lighting and sound so you are very aware of being filmed in terms of your dialogue and actions. The director would set up the scene and give parameters like “okay you two are here to hash out what happened” or “just make sure by the end of this scene you invite her to your house for a party”. Sometimes the directors had notes for the other participants that they’d share in advance of the scene or pause filming to share with them if the direction wasn’t where they needed it to go.
Can you share something funny that’s happened to you while filming?
When I was filming with my mom, we were walking down the street and her microphone pack and waist band slipped off. It looked visually like her undies had slipped down. I was really laughing so hard because she didn’t notice right away, and I had to do a double take to make sure that wasn’t what happened. It was extra funny because she carries herself with such grace and dignity.
Any advice to other people thinking on share their lives on TV?
Be prepared for the insanity. Be prepared for the edit. A lunch is never a one-hour meal – more like a three-hour ordeal where you must think about what you say and how it might be interpreted, and how every facial expression, every nod, every gesture might be used in the edit.
Now tell us about your work as an editor for ALLURE Magazine?
To clarify I was the Assistant West Coast Editor. It was the best job for me at that time in my life. I am so grateful for that opportunity. I learned so much and I told myself “You are here to learn so watch, take it all in and ask questions”. My job was different every day: one day scoping out a new store on Melrose, another day helping at a Malibu photo shoot, writing reviews of new products sent to us that really stood out. Linda Wells was the best editor. She insisted we speak with the authorities in the fields – dermatologists, makeup artists, trichologists, and that we approach fashion and beauty with the same candor and seriousness other journalists approach the news. She was a real pioneer for that. Even the way her photographers presented product within the pages was revolutionary. The smudge of lipstick or splat of cream had never been done before. The West Coast offices of Conde Nast were all on one floor and it was so fun to see how the different titles were reflected in their employees. ALLURE staff were all about beauty – the latest makeup, hair (and teeth whiteners?!) were so big with us. The VOGUE girls were all round effortlessly cool. The writers who worked at SELF (a health and fitness title) were always working out and sporty chic. The Conde Nast Traveller staff were always taking off on another fantastic trip. And the guys at DETAILS (a men’s fashion book) were impeccably dressed and up on the latest tech. It was like a bizarre hybrid high school where all the cliques were defined by their magazines.
What is fun and rewarding about working on a popular fashion magazine? And what’s not?
You are always ahead of trends and new technologies before they hit mainstream. I’d have a cool conditioner or know about a key ingredient before anyone else had heard of it. We put Kate Moss on the cover when she was relatively unknown in the US. As for the “what’s not”, to do it well, you must understand it takes up most of your life. For me, at that point in my life, I was so fine with that.
As a popular celebrity and entrepreneur, you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of always doing the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?
I mess up ALL THE TIME. But I once heard someone tell me that pressure is a privilege and I never look at it as a negative. I think it’s helpful for others to see me fail, try again and then be able to encourage them to get out there and give it a go – whatever their “it” is.
Now talking about Instagram, can you share some tips for keeping your account interesting?
Let your kids help you. Ask them for help! My boys are so good to me with creative ideas, keeping on top of the latest techniques and always coming up with salty captions. I also consider where I personally will stop and pause when scrolling my feed. What grabs my attention? And I make mental notes of that to reference when creating content.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is such a fun way for me to express myself. Sometimes I’m a character, sometimes a mood, but always something fun with a backstory.
Who are some of your favorite models and designers?
So many and from all price points. Vera Wang is my go-to. So many people aren’t aware she has the most incredible ready-to-wear collection beyond her bridal schtick. Her pieces are unique, fun, beautifully constructed and everything I want when I dress. Stacey Bendet does a phenomenal job representing trends at Alice and Olivia. I love Balenciaga – just so “what’s next”. And my favorite is finding a new designer or label “on the cusp”. I will always support yet-to-be discovered talent. Kate Moss is my favorite model hands down. I met her once and she is just as lovely in person. She is such an overcomer and so resilient. I have nothing but respect for her and she really doesn’t have a bad angle.
How would you explain your fashion style and what items in your closet can you not be without.
My style is classic with an edge. I always like to tweak my outfit with an unexpected length, fit, color or pairing. I can never be without a Balenciaga bag – they are my addiction. Also, my heels and platforms because I’m short. And a great seamstress; the French always tailor their clothes to fit perfectly, and I learned this can make a huge difference.
How would your best friend describe you?
Kooky, up for anything, way too unfiltered.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
Wait what?!: The Kara Alloway Story (the ending has a surprise twist! )
Biggest beauty inspiration? Why?
Not to be all over her again but Vera Wang – she has redefined aging well, staying cool but not looking uncomfortable in her own skin while doing it.
Which project is still on your bucket list?
Doing something in film, like producing a great adapted screenplay from a children’s book.
What is next for Kara Alloway in 2022?
I have a super exciting project in the works but like all great “next” I’m not allowed to discuss right now.
Something people don’t know about you.
I was a cheese wielding mouse in a Doritos commercial.
Do you support any charities?
Yes. So many I’d like to mention here: my girlfriend Julie started a grass roots charity for people in the isolated (North) part of Malawi. I love that, because it wasn’t enough for her to go to Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, no…she had to find the underdogs of Malawi to help. It’s called LOVE A VILLAGE www.loveavillage.org and the work she does is fantastic. I also support the Watoto Children’s Choir in Kampala, Uganda. www.watoto.com We’ve hosted their choir here at my home a few times and we sponsor children from their organization. The stories from the children are beyond. And Water Ambassadors, a water and hygiene charity. My eldest and I went on a water trip with them to Nicaragua. It was life changing to see how many people still struggle to survive without clean water.
Where we can follow you?
Quote: “No amount of regret changes the past, no amount of anxiety changes the future, Any amount of grateful joy changes the present.”
Song: Get Lucky. But right now, I can’t stop listening to Gravy Train by Yung Gravy on repeat.
Movie: Love Actually
Travel Destination: Ravello Italy. If I go missing, I’m there, in a small house, making pasta.
Sports Team: Kansas City Chiefs “How ‘bout them Chieeeeefs” I have a box of Mahomes Magic Crunch in my cupboard.