Western University, Department of Communication & Public Affairs
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Lui lets loose on Hollywood
Call her crazy – or, as she’d say, call her ‘Cruise’ (as in Tom) – but Elaine ‘Lainey’ Lui has made celebrity gossip a full-time job.
In 2003, Lui, BA’96 (History, French), left her job in fundraising at the University of British Columbia to care for her mother who needed a kidney transplant. Between jobs, Lui focused on what she most enjoyed and started circulating a celebrity chinwag email to a handful of friends. Her list of subscribers grew until it crashed the server and, in less than three years, Lui’s love of Hollywood gab gave rise to LaineyGossip.com, among the genre’s most popular blogs, attracting millions of readers worldwide.
And while Lui, 38, may be a self-proclaimed gossip maven and “smuthound,” her blog isn’t just another outlet for Hollywood trash talk and celebrity news.
“When I’m writing, I quite often infuse celebrity reporting with my own experiences. I see celeb gossip through the prism of my life,” she says.
“That’s why celebrity news and gossip is so intriguing and addictive; it’s because everyone applies their own experience to a (celebrity) story.
Lui’s blog shamelessly sheds light on Hollywood happenings, blending an all-that-glitters-may-not-be-gold approach with Lui’s personality and snarky critique. Largely underwhelmed, she doesn’t take celebrities at face value, and in the process, makes fun of herself, too.
“I’ve always loved it and I really started to enjoy writing about (celebrity news) with my own interpretation. It’s one thing to pick up a copy of US Weekly; it’s another to try and filter that information through my voice,” she says.
Sounds easy? Shallow? Fun? Lui, who lives in Vancouver with her husband and their two beagles, also reports for CTV’s etalk and is a volunteer consultant for Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth. She wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and writes anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 words a day for LaineyGossip.com.
“It’s a lot of hard work and discipline, but I do it because I really love (it). From (an early age), I loved talking about celebs,” Lui says.
And like Lui, millions of people worldwide, willing to admit it or not, love celebrity gossip; her readers voraciously consume each word she writes.
As for the discipline it takes to write the length of a novella each week, Lui credits her humanities education at Western for teaching her analytical, writing and time management skills.
“There’s a certain discipline (that comes) from taking programs in the humanities where you’re forced to naturally develop an analysis and an ability to write, develop and defend an argument. It’s certainly what I do now, even though it might be about Brad and Angelina, (not) the presidents of the United States,” she laughs.
In addition to a lengthy lineup of A-list interviews, Lui has covered events such as the Vancouver Olympic Games, the royal wedding and the Oscars. She regularly reports for CTV News Vancouver, and, in the past, wrote columns and gossip updates for The Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Times and CNN.com.
She says it’s important to remember that success – in whatever form it may come – doesn’t come easily.
“People in their mid-20s are so caught up in proving themselves. They forget there’s a learning curve that comes with (success). There’s no shame in not knowing everything,” she says.
“For me, it was a humbling experience, coming out of university and asking ‘How come I’m not the CEO already?’ It was almost like pressing ‘reset’ and that experience was just as important, or more, than having all the confidence in the world.”
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