Monday, April 25, 2011

Sofia Turns "1" & Luxe File Talks To "EveryGirl's" Maria Menounos

"1" is (not!) the loneliest number: Maria Menounos
helps Sofia's Ashley Zisook and her talented team
celebrate their first anniversary

Sofia was the place to be on April 27th when the posh Oak Street boutique celebrated its one-year anniversary. Sofia champagne was flowing as Chicago's elite guests nibbled on petite CRUMBS cupcakes and shopped for contemporary and vintage treasures. Celebrity-author, Maria Menounos, who was in town to promote her new "girl-be-great(er)" book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, dropped in to sign the glossy guides, delight guests with her top picks from Sofia's spring styles and helped her gal pal and Sofia owner, Ashley Zisook, get the celebration started!

Maria signs copies of her do-good,
be-GREAT guide for girls!

Picking her favorite pieces for spring

Girl Power: Maria with Ashley Zisook and Erin Kannett

Rachel Schwanz, Audarshia Townsend and Terri Hickey

Nancy Yacyshyn, Marc Gill, Allison Siebert
and Kristy Alderson

♫♫ What EveryGirl Wants, What EveryGirl Needs ♫♫:

In her interview with Luxe File Chicago, Maria Menounos shares her secrets for dropping a dress size (or two!), breaking into any field by working (gasp!) pro bono, and which Jersey Shore star, Snookie or The Situation, she'd pick to get trapped in an elevator with (you'll NEVER guess!).

At 32 years old, you have achieved more in your short career - Miss Teen USA, producer, journalist, actress, TV personality and, now, author - than most people will in a lifetime. What inspires you to set such lofty goals and to stay motivated: Watching my parents work so hard their whole lives and they always remained positive. Today, I feel so blessed for my work and with my life in general. I feel I owe it to my parents to push myself as hard as I can and to be appreciative that I have work in a time when many others do not. In my book, I write about how working hard is good for you. It not only helps you to succeed, it also helps to keep your mind away from negative and toxic thoughts.

You've recently published the self-help sizzler, The EveryGirl's Guide to Life. Great title! This empowering tome is layered with useful tips and helpful how-tos from styling like the stars to executing easy carpentry projects at home. What was your favorite part about writing the book: It was an amazing process and I have many favorite parts like interviewing my friends and other experts and giving them the credit they deserve. Also, whenever I express myself through writing, it feels good which is why I recommend that people do it.

Your book also promotes the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and recounts how you were able to lose, and keep off, forty pounds. What are your secrets for success: My success with weight loss came when I stopped obsessing about my size and weight and focused on making healthy choices in my diet and lifestyle. I eat when I’m hungry, reduced my portions and drink hot water throughout the day which curbs my appetite and keeps me calm.

You’re a noted environmental advocate and even dedicated a portion of your book to organic gardening. Saving the environment is one of the greatest challenges we face, give us some ways we can help Mother Earth: Like anything else, start by taking baby steps in becoming more green. Little things such as washing clothes in cold water, opting for water filters instead of buying plastic water bottles and keeping recycle bins near your trash receptacles for paper and plastic all go a long way at little cost to you.

In 2008, while Senator Obama was on the presidential campaign trail, you were the first journalist to interview The Obama family together. What was that experience like for you: I was the first and, to this day, the ONLY journalist to interview the family and I'm really proud of that! It is a career highlight and something I will remember for the rest of my life. What I took away from the experience was the fact that The Obamas seemed so down-to-earth, so normal and very much like the rest of us. They didn't have the air that many politicians I've met have. Watching the president playing soccer with his daughters, out of the cameras’ view, was very special.

From the Real World to the Jersey Shore, you’ve become the Barbara Walters of "reunion" hosts! Which was your favorite cast reunion and who would you rather be trapped in an elevator with, Snookie or The Situation: I'm such a huge fan of the “after-show” discussion which is why I launched! We produce after-shows for your favorite TV shows - from Jersey Shore and American Idol to Mad Men. I feel that fans, like myself, want more content and information regarding their favorite shows and want to connect with fellow fans. That's the reason I personally called MTV to do the Real World reunions.

My favorite cast reunion is hard to say! The casts are always so revved up when we tape them and I have a lot of orchestrating, taming and even counseling to do each time I host one. I have a genuine passion to interview the cast mates and to discover what motivated them to do the things they did. I'm actually really excited about the new Las Vegas Real World - there's so much going on between the violence and substance abuse. I’ve been the victim of it in my own life and know friends who have been, too, so I can't wait to get in there and delve deeper. I think there are things the cast and audiences need to hear that could be helpful. The biggest challenge with shooting them is always time. We tape six hours worth of discussion and have to cut it down to an hour.

Snookie or Sitch? I can't pick, they're both awesome. Sitch is very entertaining and Snookie is so genuine and honest. I find both traits refreshing. However, what I always say about both is that, deep down, I feel they're good kids. I’m not sure that's true of other reality stars.

Other than The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, what book is resting on your bedside table: The Guru in You by Cameron Alborzian. It's amazing for quality mental and physical health.

Where you go for inspiration: Church is a great place and by “church”, I mean any place of meditation or worship that is quiet and spiritual. I'm Greek Orthodox but I'll stop into other houses of worship in my travels when I come upon them and have the time. I pray, meditate and give thanks for all my blessings. Working out also helps to inspire me. Every time I run on the treadmill, I get new ideas and revelations that help me in my business and my life.

Worst advice you were ever given: People always said, “Don’t work for free. Always demand money and lots of it.” This is THE worst advice especially when it comes to breaking into a tough field, and Hollywood is one of the toughest. I worked for a year-and-a-half for free on my first film and that's what landed me my job at Channel One and launched my career. I’ve volunteered, worked pro bono and have spent hundreds of thousands on personal projects that didn’t pay off monetarily but helped me to diversify myself, open new doors and allowed me the opportunity to enjoy greater financial success in other areas. In the end, whether working for free or spending money on your own projects, you are investing in yourself.

You have interviewed some of Hollywood's most notable names. Who is your dream interview: There are few people I haven't interviewed in Hollywood and I'm blessed in that regard. Perhaps that's why my nightly news interviews mean so much to me - I love interviewing incredible people who have sacrificed, endured and have overcame the worst challenges life has had to offer. I had so badly wanted to interview the last living WWI veteran this Memorial Day and was saddened to hear he just passed away.

Luxe File Chicago has dedicated its site to the “love of living luxuriously”. Finish this sentence, “When it comes to living luxuriously, always…”: Remember that luxury and luxurious living should be about enriching our lives, not depleting our wallets. Find ways to do luxury on a budget! For me and my busy schedule, just being able to relax is a luxury. Here are a few of my favorites: a long, hot bath with candles and soft music playing; lounging on the couch with a nice comforter, a glass of wine and watching a great movie or TV show; taking a blanket and a good book to the beach.

Party photos courtesy of XA, The Experiential Agency, Inc./Tyler Curtis, photographer

Posted by Kerry Shorr

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