Irreverent and unconventional is Jessi Cruickshank’s mantra for success.
There is no mistaking Jessi’s irreverent let-it-all-hang-out style, which either evokes surprise, shock or laughter but never boredom. Whether she’s interviewing a celebrity or hosting a fashion segment, the style maven does it in a totally unconventional manner.
Just ask billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates whom Cruickshank asked about his underwear. Or highly regarded British actress Emma Thompson with whom Cruickshank did vodka shots. It’s not a standard interviewing technique taught in journalism school.
Just 34, Cruickshank has built up an impressive career hosting and appearing on shows for various networks ranging from MTV Canada, YTV and CTV to different specialty channels in the U.S. Currently she is hosting the third season of CBC-TV’s Canada’s Smartest Person and is one of four hosts of the new CBC-TV daily daytime lifestyle show, The Goods.
Life in television came naturally for Cruickshank. Her mother Joyce Resin hosted a CBC show in Vancouver. Cruickshank honed her acting skills as part of a high school’s all-male improv comedy group that included actor Seth Rogen. She went on to university earning a degree in English and drama and never looked back though her goal at the time was to grace the stages of the Globe Theatre in London or appear in a Shakespeare play in Stratford. Interviewing the likes of Tom Cruise and Hollywood’s celebrity elite was not on the career radar.
Married in 2014 to a film editor, Cruickshank divides her time between Los Angeles and Toronto. She’s travelled extensively around the world as the Canadian Ambassador for Free the Children, an organization she has passionately supported since she was 13. Much like a runaway train, Cruickshank moves at a fast pace and one never knows what direction she may take, but whatever she does, it is done with style and panache.
You have a distinct and irreverent interview style. Is there anyone you modelled?
No, I didn’t really model my style after anyone. My goal was to do something so utterly different with celebrities, it would immediately shake them out of their comfort zone. That’s where my style originated—a simple desire to stand out in the crowd.
Who is on your interview bucket list?
Ryan Gosling. I’m not sure I even want to “interview” him as much as I just want to stare at him longingly for five minutes.
What three things do you love most about Canada?
Since living in the U.S. I have a whole new appreciation for how progressive we are when it comes to social and political values. Second, we are the nicest, most down-to-earth people on Earth. Finally, and I realize it is not very Canadian of me to brag, but we are the most beautiful country on the planet. We have oceans, mountains, forests, the northern lights—our country is as beautiful on the outside as our people are on the inside.
Where have you always wanted to travel?
I’m desperate to go to Japan! Not only do I want to eat my weight in sushi, but I want to immerse myself in the culture, fashion, architecture, technology and the people—all of it.
What do you like to do on vacation?
I have no problem lying on a beach, sipping piña coladas for 10 days straight, but I also love to explore the sights and truly immerse myself in the culture of every place I visit. I am a firm believer that eating is just as important as sightseeing. Eating local fare is key to experiencing a new culture and calories don’t count outside of North America.
What’s your most memorable trip?
As a long-time ambassador for Free the Children, I travelled to Kenya to live with a Maasai family in a traditional mud hut furnished with twigs for a bed, fire for cooking and zero electricity or running water. I started the trip feeling completely and utterly out of place but by the time I left
I had formed a lifelong connection with this incredibly warm and generous community. That trip taught me happiness does not come from what you have in your life but what you choose to do with it.