When Real Housewives of Toronto (RHOT) aired it revealed the lives of six powerful, privileged and elite women in our city. It wasn’t a surprise that with the show came instant recognition amongst the masses. The women on the show were more noticeable being out and about in the city at the city’s swishy-est events and parties. We saw them at fashion events. We tried out Jana Webb’s JOGA studio and bought into Roxy Earle’s Joe Fresh collections. They were, and are, smart women who know what they want and are willing to take the risks of putting themselves, and often their families, out there. I think I’ve met all of them IRL as someone who covers openings and events – with the exception of Kara Alloway.
That’s not to say she wasn’t as buzz-worthy as the other women on the RHOT. But her buzz came in a different form. Kara was shaped up to be the protagonist and villain of the show. And in case you haven’t noticed, there’s always at least one on every show. If you’re a fan of “reality shows” there are plenty of cast members out there who have revealed what happens behind the scenes. It’s all in the editing. Read Selling Sunset star Christine Quinn’s book How to Be a Boss B*tch where she drops a few examples.
The Real Housewives of Toronto aired in 2017 on Slice but lasted only one season (10 episodes). It’s a fun watch especially if you’re a Torontonian as the scenes were filmed on location mostly in and around the city as well as cottage country. The show can still be found on Apple TV and hayu.
When Kara announced she was about to drop a book, I was curious. MOST HATED will be on bookshelves and online at the end of this month. Pretty sure it will do well given the upcoming summer reading season. I had a chance to check in with Kara while she was busy revving up for the book’s release.
Most people will recognize you from the Real Housewives of Toronto, but what don’t people know about your career?
Kara: I feel like I’ve lived 1000 lives. I’ve worked as a private party planner at a swish “ladies who lunch” Beverly Hills restaurant – THE BISTRO GARDEN. It’s not there anymore; SPAGO on North Canõn is in its place. I was the assistant West Coast Editor at ALLURE Magazine in their West Coast offices. I launched a teen publication in Canada called Ingénue as the editor-in-chief and we had the fastest growing circulation for that demographic in the publishing house’s history. I hosted a fashion and beauty report on a radio station. And I’ve written fashion and beauty content for a few magazines.
You were more than playing yourself on the reality show, can you tell us how else you were involved?
Kara: I had a pre-existing relationship with the production company because I had pitched them a few ideas for a reality tv show to do with charity events. When they were doing Toronto Housewives, they asked me to help with the casting by suggesting potential candidates and one who I put forward was eventually cast. (I always said I’d be a stellar casting agent.) They offered me the chance to participate on the show with a view to spinning off my reality show – like Lisa Vanderpump did with Vanderpump Rules. I’m not sure that was ever in the cards, but I went for it. That’s why I was committed to bringing the drama – I felt like I was a contributing producer for the show, and it had to be great to merit a spin off.
What are some of the most common questions people ask you?
Kara: How much did you get paid?
Did the cameramen sleep over at your house?
Was it scripted?
Are you friends with any of the women from the show?
What do you wish people would ask you instead?
Kara: Why did you get such a bad edit?
Where was your family when the fireworks were being set off that night at your cottage?
Did you really break any ribs?
Reality Shows are loosely based on reality but what did you learn from this experience?
Kara: There’s a huge difference between augmented reality and manufactured. I look at the work of someone like Alex Baskin from Evolution and 32 Flavors who does Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules. He creates art in the reality genre by adding dramatic music and using unexpected camera angles, while capturing the anguish of real-life bleeding characters. Ditto for a company like Truly Original or Shed Media (they did Real Housewives of Salt Lake City). Look at what Shed Media did the last season of Salt Lake City – it was so brilliant the way they juxtaposed comments from S1 of the show with action from the most recent season and the Jen Shah scandal. That’s entertainment. That’s talent. Now contrast that with a production company that uses frankenbiting and cherry picking to create a storyline; that sort of monkey business is hack.
Your novel, Most Hated, is fictional but will it include elements of your experience from the show?
Kara: My novel is a novel – fiction. The emotions and feelings I experienced filming Toronto Housewives informed the characterization but that’s where it ends. There are no characters identifiable as any Housewives past or present. I cast my book as I would have cast a show. And I think I did a good job capturing the anxiety and tension that exists when filming. That’s not usually apparent to the viewer when watching but on the page, I was able to communicate the pressure of being a participant. I described it to someone once as tapdancing on a highwire while being sprayed by a freezing cold, water gun and making it all look likely, relaxed, and glam at the same time.
What inspired you to write this novel and would you ever consider writing a biography?
Kara: Well to begin with please – a biography? Give me a Louboutin heel to the back of my head the day I write a biography! I always wanted to write a book about female friendships. I grew up in a family of girls, I went to an all-girls school, we have mostly female cousins…it was going to happen I just didn’t know what the setting would be. But those relationships and interactions fascinated me from a young age; they are unique and compelling. Look how the world stops to observe Meghan vs Kate, Selena vs Hailey or Raquel vs the whole female cast of Vanderpump Rules. When I did Housewives, I knew I’d found my setting.
Our summers here are not here for a long time but a good time — what are your favourite summer memories here in Canada?
Kara: Growing up my grandpa had a home on the Niagara River. My sister and I had some wonderful summer adventures in Chippawa. It was magical. I married at a cottage in Muskoka (I did not grow up with one) so I have hilarious memories of learning to drive and dock a boat (my husband tried, my father-in law tried, and my brother-in law tried) and live in harmony with Northern Ontario wildlife, as a young wife and a new mom. Come to think of it I have many “fish out of water” memories of adapting to cottage life as a cottage wife.
What do you love about summer in the city of Toronto?
Kara: The false sense of a city without traffic. I fall for it every summer and get a rude awakening in September. And eating outdoors – that never gets old.
What do you hate about summer in the city of Toronto?
Kara: The brevity. Blink and it’s back-to-school.
What are you most looking forward to in the next few months?
Kara: Connecting with readers of my book MOST HATED. Margaret Atwood said in an interview “writers write to evoke”. That’s so true. Getting the feedback, discussing character arcs, hearing what the reader loved and what they did not – I cannot wait for it. Also spending some time with my boys and the family. We will do a trip somewhere and what I love the most is not the perfection of it all but rather the chaos. There will be scenarios where we will all be laughing (usually at me and something I’ve said or done) so hard that we are crying. And then the incident gets retold and rehashed many times and the more we retell it the funnier it gets.
Will you be touring with your book?
Yes! I’m doing a tour with Indigo at several of their doors in Southern Ontario (Barrie, Sherway, Burlington and Yonge/Eglinton) and I’m currently booking some US dates with Barnes & Noble as well as some fantastic indie bookstores south of the border.
DO YOU LIVE A FABULOUS, GLAMOROUS LIFE?
“ARE YOU THE TALK OF THE TOWN”?
In the merciless world of reality TV, three women try to change their lives, but end up with far more than they bargained for. Zoe wants nothing more than to get ahead. She’s a producer on the hot docu-soap, Talk of the Town, and all her time and energy is focused on making it the best show ever. The most dramatic. The most interesting. The most addictive. The highest rated.
Dahlia Irvine knows two things for sure: this show’s her chance to have a career all her own and her NFL-hottie husband is totally and completely in love with her. Except when the cameras start rolling, everything she knew for sure it is no longer certain and the more she tries to fix what’s wrong with her love and her life the worse it gets.
On the outside Sabrina, whose nickname is “The Countess of Controversy”, had it all. Gorgeous husband. Beautiful family. A title. But when her life comes crashing down around her, her cousin Budgie convinces her to join the show. Together they’ll turn things around… except the pressure of the show, the pressure of her ex, and the pressure of her own expectations almost ruin her life all over again.
For the women working behind and in front of the camera on Talk of the Town, one of them will inevitably end up as the “most hated.” It’s all in the name of great entertainment, but when real life blends with reality television no one comes out unscathed.