WHERE: How does it feel being the host of a show like Canada’s Next Top Model?
JAY MANUEL: Canada is known for producing talent in the fashion industry and huge supermodels, so I was kind of stoked. The girls excited me to no end. I mean, we were looking at the tapes and Canada’s got it. There’s something in the water.
WHERE: What part of Toronto are you from?
JM: Scarborough. I went to Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate where I was the head of the fashion show committee. We produced the shows and they aired on Scarborough cable. The proceeds from the ticket sales went to the Hospital for Sick Children, and I’m so proud of that. Some of it’s a little cheesy but I love people to know that I was on Scarborough cable first.
WHERE: What’s it like working in the CHUMCity Building?
JM: It’s surreal. I’ve worked with big designers and big photographers all over the world, but for some reason, coming home to CHUM makes me feel like, okay, I did it. I’ve said it many times before in interviews, but growing up watching Fashion Television on Saturday was a religion. I tease Jeanne [Beker] about it now. I really would just live and die by everything she said, and now I sit and work with her. She’s my friend outside of work. There is definitely a sense of pride.
WHERE: Is it true that you originally moved to New York to become a doctor?
JM: I went through a very interesting progression from where I am now. It’s a long story and I’ll spare you most of it, but basically I moved to New York to attend NYU for pre-med and to pursue my singing career. While I was here in Toronto, I was part of Opera in Concert and performed regularly at what is now the Hummingbird Centre. I was part of the Mendelssohn Youth Choir and travelled internationally as a singer. So when I moved to New York, I was coaching privately with the assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and that’s when I changed my major.
WHERE: How do you deal with your fans?
JM: I’m good with them. I’ve worked with so many amazing icons that handle the public and understand what the public does for their career. They’re truly gracious. I think when people come up to you, it’s ten times harder for them to say something than it is for you to deal with them.
WHERE: What is one of the things you love best about Toronto?
JM: Every time I fly into Toronto, I love seeing the dome of the Rogers Centre at the base of the CN Tower. There aren’t many cities where you can fly in and get a view of the downtown skyline like that.
WHERE: Can you give our readers any quickie fashion tips for staying on trend this spring?
JM: Voluminous shapes like the trapeze silhouette are big this spring, but what works on a model doesn’t always work for every body type. So, a good way to still work the full trend is to do it with a handbag. Get one of those big, puffy, deconstructed shaped bags, throw it over your arm, but still wear the silhouette that best compliments your shape.JAY’S TOP 10
His insider scoop on the essential places for nibbling, shopping and chilling in the city.
1 Holt Renfrew: The store has a great cross-section with a creative edge!
2 Harbord Bakery (115 Harbord St., 416-922-5767): Five words—white chocolate macadamia nut cookie!
3 Xacutti: I love their brunch—it makes me want to blow my diet!
4 TNT Blu (Hazelton Lanes, 87 Avenue Rd., 416-972-1593): I love, love, love that store!
5 Hôtel Le Germain (30 Mercer St., 416-345-9500): It’s very me, very Zen.
6 The Paramount Theatre (295 Richmond St. W., 416-368-5600): It has a really cool vibe.
7 Terra Restaurant: The grilled ostrich is amazing!
8 The Don Valley Parkway: Driving down the DVP in the fall, it’s gorgeous.
9 Teatro Verde: Has the best flowers!
10 CHUMCity Building: Hip, cool programming. It was the place to be growing up, and it’s surreal that I’m now a part of it.
WEB EXCLUSIVE! For more insider fashion tips, see 10 Fashion Boutiques.—Zenya Sirant