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Tori Spelling Shares "Presenting… Tallulah," Being Her Father’s Daughter and the Challenges of Having It All
By Allison Kugel, Senior Editor - October 04, 2010

Tori Spelling
Tori Spelling
Tori Spelling’s three best-selling memoirs read like personal journals. They are intimate and revealing in a manner that most celebrities never grant to their fan base. For that reason, I felt like I already knew Tori Spelling before we spoke. Tori has a strong aptitude for communicating her passions, phobias, and unique personality quirks to her reading audience, so much so that it gave me plenty of ammunition for crafting my questions.

Tori is self-deprecating and down to earth, and her character flaws double as part of her charm. There is nothing rehearsed about Tori Spelling’s persona, or the way she answered my questions, for that matter. There are very few public personalities who allow an air of vulnerability to penetrate their voice during an interview, and as a journalist I appreciate those who are brave enough to reveal that quality. It allows for a genuine exchange. In the case of Tori and I, we were able to connect on the shared chaos of juggling a career and motherhood, unfulfilled dreams of living in rural America and our admiration for psychic medium John Edward. Ours was an eclectic combination of commonalities that somehow naturally tied together during our chat.

Tori Spelling, New York Times best-selling author, has a nice ring to it, and adding to her growing literary resume is her recently published children’s book entitled, Presenting… Tallulah. The story is about a little girl born into a world of privilege and formalities who dreams of simply fitting in with her classmates and living life as an ordinary girl, a striking resemblance to Tori’s own somewhat sheltered childhood. Apart from Tallulah’s spunky independent personality, the character looks strikingly like a young Tori with her sandy blonde hair and large brown eyes. Complete with beautifully detailed illustrations by artist Vanessa Brantley Newton, Presenting… Tallulah provides a visually stimulating journey for children, along with a poignant message about a little girl’s desire to show people who she really is, despite her pristine appearance.

PR.com (Allison Kugel): I read your children’s book (Presenting… Tallulah) to my seventeen month old son last night. I don’t know if it’s meant for boys, but he enjoyed it.

Tori Spelling: It’s totally meant for boys! Liam loved it.

PR.com: I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that Tallulah is little Tori (laughs)

Tori Spelling: Tallulah is loosely based on me, yes.

PR.com: Does Tallulah’s story reflect how you felt as a kid?

Tori Spelling: In some ways. I definitely didn’t have that home life. My mom and dad were really cool; they weren’t strict like that. But since I was telling a story about a little girl I made that part up. At school I did feel that way a lot. I felt like I was teased by the other kids for who I was and what we had.

PR.com: Was there anyone in particular when you were young who made you feel more normal or more comfortable in your own skin?

Tori Spelling: In the book, Tallulah has a best friend named Max, who is based on my best friend in real life. And he has definitely been that person for me. In the story they grow up together, but in real life, my best friend Mehran and I have been best friends since we were fifteen. So he is definitely that. And I was always into animals. My animals always made me feel normal, and in the book she has [her dog] Mimi who is based on my pug who passed away, Mimi La Rue.

PR.com: Can you remember who your favorite literary character was or what your favorite book was when you were little?

Tori Spelling: Yes, it was definitely Goodnight Moon.

Presenting... Tallulah, by Tori Spelling
Presenting... Tallulah, by Tori Spelling

PR.com: You’ve built a successful brand for yourself over the last few years. Do you still have the thought in the back of your mind that you have to come out from behind your father’s shadow and prove that you are successful and capable on your own, or are you past that now?

Tori Spelling: I think I am past that. I feel like we all have our hurdles to overcome in life, and that was just one of my many [hurdles]. I still have that feeling of having to prove how normal I am or how nice I am. I guess that has a bit to do with my father’s shadow. But I definitely feel like I have proved myself with being a good businesswoman on my own.

PR.com: I read in one of your three memoirs where you said that you have a compulsion with always saying “sorry” to people. Do you still do that?

Tori Spelling: (Laughs) Yes. This is really funny… this morning my friend bumped into me and literally almost knocked me down, and I’m like, “I’m sorry.” And she said, “Why are you saying you’re sorry?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.” Oh my Gosh, yeah (laughs). It’s so funny that you brought that up.

PR.com: What year of your life, so far, has been your best year?

Tori Spelling: Hmmm, I would say, definitely, my thirties have been my best years. I think it’s because all at once I [began to] appreciate myself and started loving myself, and I wasn’t so hard on myself anymore. I came into my own, and that’s when I met my husband and I became successful, and I had my babies.

PR.com: Out of all three of your memoirs, is there a particular story or passage that you get a lot of feedback on from your fans?

Tori Spelling: From my current book, Uncharted TerriTORI, people love the chapter about my mom’s Christmas party. They love the reconciliation, and people love detail and setting the visuals. And I think I have gotten the most feedback so far on that third book. It went a little deeper and had a little more emotion to it.

PR.com: If your father (the late television producer, Aaron Spelling) were physically here, what do you think he would have to say about Stella and Liam, and about your recent professional achievements?

Tori Spelling: I would hope he would be really proud. I am so much like my dad, business-wise, that I can’t see him not being proud. He was always proud of everything I did. And he would love the children. Liam is, literally, just like him. He is like a mini-me of my dad. And I was always daddy’s little girl, so I’m sure Stella would be grandpa’s little girl.

PR.com: It seems as though you, your mom and your brother have finally all come to a good place. What do you understand about each other now that you didn’t understand about one another a few years ago?

Tori Spelling: I think we understand the fact that family wins out over anything. We all are different people, and I think we finally accepted that about each other. We don’t have to have the same points of view and we don’t have to be the same person. As long as we have love, then that’s all that matters. And my children definitely helped us all come together as a family unit.

PR.com: You’ve made ongoing reference to you and your husband Dean being such polar opposites. You suffer through a lot of anxiety and Dean is more daring, and he doesn’t fear the unknown. Has his attitude rubbed off on you at all, and has your sense of caution rubbed off on him? In essence, what have you learned from each other?

Tori Spelling: My fears have not rubbed off on him, thank goodness. I would like to be more like him. I definitely don’t have any aim to be a dare devil, but I would like to be a little more free. That is something I’m working towards. I would like to be able to try new things and not be so fearful of every step I make, and of life itself. Dean has taught me to open up a little bit.

PR.com: What resolution have you and Dean come to since his recent motorcycle accident?

Tori Spelling with Husband Dean McDermott & Children Liam & Stella
Tori Spelling with Husband Dean McDermott & Children Liam & Stella

Tori Spelling: There is no resolution, really. He is no longer going to race and he’s no longer going to dirt bike ride. Obviously, at this point the whole motorcycle thing, we have to agree to disagree because he loves doing it with a passion. I don’t ever want to take away anything he is passionate about. It’s not my place to do so. I’m his partner, I want to support him. But it is definitely something I am not comfortable with and I make that known.

PR.com: Since writing about your hectic schedule in Uncharted TerriTORI, have you come closer to finding balance in your life, or do you still feel like you are on that non-stop treadmill?

Tori Spelling: I would like to say I have. It’s funny, but when I go back and look at those passages I’m like, “Oh my God, look at what I’m saying to myself, right here!” It’s like a note to myself, and I still haven’t taken it to heart. I have not found that balance yet. I’m still going at full speed.

PR.com: I only have one child right now, and at the end of the day between baby, career, family, I am always exhausted and always craving sleep and balance. I’ll look at other moms from a distance or in pictures in magazines of mothers looking so relaxed and together and I’m like, “Am I doing something wrong? Is there some secret I don’t know about?” Do you know what I mean?

Tori Spelling: I completely know what you mean and I think the key word is “distance” (laughs). I often say that to my friends. I’ll say, “You guys seem to have it all together. How do you do it?” And they’re like, “Are you crazy?! I’m always exhausted!” I think we always think that it’s just us who can’t keep it together. I think it is every mom. We’re all trying to find that balance and it’s not easy, but you just do it. Women are good at that. We just do it, no matter what.

PR.com: So we have to assume it’s a universal struggle. Everything you’ve said in your books about constantly questioning and second guessing yourself, I think that’s how every mom in the world feels. You’re not alone.

Tori Spelling: I have come to realize that after writing my [latest] book. It’s nice to know you’re not alone, because you always think you’re the weirdo, you know?

PR.com: On the flip side of that, you have all of these enterprises going now. Do you feel that, just like your dad, your work is your purpose and your life’s blood, or is it a means to an end for you?

Tori Spelling: I often wonder that. I often tell my friend Mehran that one day I’m just going to quit all of this and be a stay-at-home mom, and he tells me I would be miserable. He’s says, “You’re just like your dad. You love to work. You love to create.” I’d like to always maintain both, but I do need to find that balance so I don’t feel like I am trying to catch up all the time.

PR.com: How do you define the Tori Spelling brand these days?

Tori Spelling: It’s me and everything I love. People say I do so many things but it’s organic and it’s what I am passionate about. Everything comes back to the home. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s all about home and family, and it all relates back to each other. It’s everything I’m interested in, and it’s something all women and all moms can relate to.

PR.com: The “Tori Spelling” that I remember from the 90s and even the early 2000s is not the same “you” that you seem to be these past five years. And it seems like the person you have presented more recently is who you always really were.

Tori Spelling: It’s the person I was destined to be, but didn’t know I could be. I think the person I presented on 90210, that was me. When I look back I’m like, “Oh. That was truly me.” [I was] that shy, timid, funny girl that was really sweet. But inside there was this woman that wanted to take over. I think I had to grow into that because I didn’t give myself permission to become that person. Once I did, it all kind of worked out.

PR.com: Tell me about this new show on Oxygen where you are going to be a wedding planner.

Tori Spelling: It’s called Tori & Dean’s Storybook Weddings.

PR.com: Are you going to actually go into people’s homes and help them plan their weddings?

Tori Spelling with Children Stella & Liam
Tori Spelling with Children Stella & Liam

Tori Spellings: I am. I love to plan parties. People have seen me do it on my show and it was just another business that I wanted to start. Oxygen said, “If you’re really interested, why don’t we do a show about it at the same time?” In every episode I’ll plan someone’s wedding, which is amazing!

PR.com: Will it be a surprise for each couple?

Tori Spelling: No, they’ll be a part of it. People can make videos and write in explaining why they need help. We’ll go through the videos and pick the people that really need the help, and where it seems worthwhile to help them with their wedding.

PR.com: Could you ever see yourself living in a different city, and living a different type of life, or are you a Los Angeles girl all the way?

Tori Spelling: I’m definitely an LA girl, but there is part farm girl somewhere in me; maybe a Beverly Hills farm girl? If that’s possible (laughs).

PR.com: Right, right (laughs). I get it.

Tori Spelling: A lot of my work is here in LA but I would love to have that serenity of having a farm. I’m trying to maintain both. I’m here in LA, and in our backyard we have a garden where we grow our own vegetables. We have chickens, and I’m trying to make both worlds work. But that would be amazing to have a farm somewhere at some point in my life.

PR.com: What other animals do you have besides chickens?

Tori Spelling: We have dogs, chickens and we have baby chicks we are raising right now. We have a snake, a bearded dragon, a guinea pig, rabbits and a goat.

PR.com: Do you get your own eggs from your yard?

Tori Spelling: We do. It’s really great for the kids to learn responsibility. The animals crawl all over Liam and he loves them. We get eggs from our chickens. The garden is the most amazing thing because Liam won’t eat any vegetables if we go out, but anything he can pick from his garden and wash, he will eat.

PR.com: I understand that, just like me, you’re a big John Edward fan.

Tori Spelling: Yes, and I just met him yesterday in person. The reading I had done with him was over the phone (Tori chronicles her reading with John Edward in Uncharted TerriTORI). We were both doing KTLA Morning News.

PR.com: I’m so jealous right now. I’ve been following his work since 2001. Have you ever read his book, Crossing Over?

Tori Spelling: No I haven’t, but I’m a big fan of his show. I love the effect he has on people. When my dad passed, I thought, “My Gosh, I would love to have a reading with him one day.” Patsy, who was our baby nurse, was a huge fan. She lost three children and she had always wanted to meet him. We have the same publicist and I said I would love to somehow get a reading [with John Edward] for Patsy, it’s her dream in life to get a reading with him. My publicist said that he would be happy to do a reading over the phone for Patsy, and he would also be happy to do a reading for me and Dean, so that’s how it happened.

PR.com: If you had to take your best guess, who would you say you were in your previous life?

Tori Spelling Holding Her New Book, Presenting... Tallulah
Tori Spelling Holding Her New Book, Presenting... Tallulah

Tori Spelling: It’s funny, every time someone does a past life reading [for me] they always tell me I was some sort of royalty, but I think they’re just saying that because of who my dad was, and that type of thing. I do feel like I have some sort of country girl in me somewhere. I gravitate to animals and to that lifestyle which is completely different from how I grew up, and I don’t know why I gravitate towards it. I think in a different life I was on a farm somewhere.

PR.com: We seem to have a farm theme going throughout this conversation.

Tori Spelling: (her voice turns sheepish) I know.

PR.com: I would recommend that you guys take a family trip to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania. You get to see a simpler way of life. You see all of that farmland, and people working on the farms. At the restaurants a lot of the food is freshly grown by the Amish people. It’s a wonderful experience, especially if you are drawn to that kind of lifestyle.

Tori Spelling: I would love to do that. I think that would be really nice for the kids to see, maybe when they’re a little bit older. It’s true that the simpler life is such a better way. We all accumulate so much and we feel like we can’t live without stuff, and we really don’t need any of that stuff to make it work and be happy. It’s a great lesson for everybody.

PR.com: Going back to your children’s book, Presenting… Tallulah, what are your plans for this character going forward?

Tori Spelling: When I came up with the idea for her, I saw the bigger picture. I want to make it into a book series of Tallulah’s adventures, and I want all of the books to have a really good message to inspire children and make them feel good about themselves and empowered. I would love to see her as an animated series as well. I have a clothing line for children called Little Maven (littlemaven.com) and I’m coming out with a “Tallulah” dress (for a sneak peak at the dress check out the illustrations in “Presenting… Tallulah”). It’s coming out in December so it’s a great Christmas gift for a little girl; you can get the book and the dress. We took the sample pictures of Stella in the [dress] and it made me so happy!

Tori Spelling’s children’s book, “Presenting… Tallulah” is available at book stores nationwide and at Amazon.com. Visit kids.simonandschuster.com for a book preview.

Visit Tori and Dean at oxygen.com and follow Tori Spelling on Twitter @torianddean.

Tori Spelling Shares “Presenting… Tallulah,” Being Her Father’s Daughter and the Challenges of Having It All


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