“If you could change one thing about your life, what would you change?” asks Jessi Cruikshank at her talk during Global Awareness Week at Grant MacEwan University.
You may know Jessi from MTV Live, the Hills Aftershow or more currently, a correspondent for E Talk and Jamie Kennedy’s co-host on Oh Sit! The 30-year-old ginger may be a well-known T.V personality, but she comes off just as humble in real life as she does on the small screen. Standing on the stage, she speaks to us young, 20-somethings as though we are part of the dialogue.
Her opening line: How she was born in an A&W bathroom. Jessi’s self-deprecating humour makes you want to be her new best friend, while her model-like figure and perfect waves make you want to be her. Yet it’s how grounded she is that really sets Jessi apart from others who have transitioned to the City of Angels.
Famous for being fucking hilarious and incredibly inappropriate during interviews (she’s banned from interviewing the Twilight cast), Jessi ‘s interviewing style is truly unique. “I was tired of watching interviewers ask the same questions over and over, so I decided to ask the questions I wanted to ask.”
Watch below as Jessi goes on a “date” with Bradley Cooper.
When Jessi was studying English and Drama at the University of Toronto, she admits she studied more boys than books. While staring at her crush one day, she literally ran into her future: A pole. No, her future wasn’t pole dancing, but rather being in the public eye. The pole had a flyer on it for a theatrical production. “I was always interested in theatre, but I was terrified of rejection,” she says, standing tall in Leopard-print boots I once threw away while fearing they were out of style. That moment in university was what literally pushed Jessi towards achieving her dreams. And even though the boy didn’t stick, her career choice did.
Being on international T.V while interviewing celebs such as Heidi Montag, Taylor Lautner, Lauren Conrad and Bradley Cooper, a person might think Jessi would have everything she’s ever wanted. But in a city filled with Botox happy hours and breast implant referrals, she keeps her feet planted on the ground by staying close to a tight-knit group of fellow Canadians.
“We’re immersed in this world where how you look and what you own is more important than what you have to offer,” says Jessi. “I got caught up in it for a while.”
It was when Jessi went to South Africa for an MTV Live special that the “pop culture bubble” she was living in suddenly burst. There she met an 11-year-old gurl named Toti who changed her life more than any high profile person she’s ever met. “When people ask me who the best person I’ve met is, they expect me to say a celebrity,” she says. “But it’s Toti.” While other young women may want to change their body, have a higher paying job or more friends, the 11-year-old’s answer to Jessi’s question of what she would change about her life was shocking: Nothing.
Now an ambassador for Free the Children, Jessi is aware that “more teens would rather be famous than make a difference in the world.” She wants young women to know that their worth is more than how they look and what they own, but the impact they have on this world. “I’m not saying you should stop going shopping or watching MTV Live,” says says. “But to revaluate your life to make the world a better place. You hold the power to do anything.”
So what would Jessi change about her life if she could change anything at all? “I would like to live in Canada and see my family more,” she says. “I have to figure out how to slow down.”
As the talk comes to an end and Jessi wraps up with a Q and A (most of her answers too personal to repeat), Jessi stays long into an encore to meet and take photos with everyone. She leaves me feeling very excited and inspired about life, and a line from her speech sticks with me:
“Look at every pole. You may not find [your partner] but I promise you will find something much more worth your while.”