Tori Spelling

  • Magazine: ModernDog
  • Issue: Winter 2006/07
Tori Spelling — spellbound

When you are preparing for a 9 am phone call with Tori Spelling and the time is 8:57, you don’t really expect the phone to ring in three minutes. After all, at 8:57, shouldn’t the Bel Air-raised daughter of a television mogul be lying in bed eating bonbons in one of the über-posh bedrooms of her The Fabulous Life of… estate? At 8:57, there is still ample time in my regular old life to putter—dogs to feed, laundry to fold, 90210 re-runs to watch—before bonbon crumbs are wiped away and a well-manicured nail dials my number.

From child actor on 1980s classics like The Love Boat, Vega$, and Fantasy Island to 90210’s eternal virgin Donna Martin, over the last two decades, the name Tori Spelling has conjured an array of images in the North American psyche. Most recently portraying a version of herself in VH1’s highly-acclaimed So NoTorious, Spelling’s roles in front of the camera have allowed viewers the opportunity to watch Aaron’s little girl grow into her own. However, acting gigs aside, there has always been something about Aaron Spelling’s daughter that left us yearning for more: more inside scoop, more juicy details, more what’s-it-really-like-to-be-Tori? Perhaps this insatiable collective craving was never more apparent than in 2006, a year Tori Spelling will no doubt not soon forget. As Hollywood reeled from the loss of one of its legends after Aaron Spelling’s stroke and subsequent death in June, celeb-voyeurs watched as Tori and mom Candy duked out the monetary details of life-after-Aaron in what has arguably been the grittiest Spelling production yet.

But there is a lot more to 33-year-old Victoria Davey Spelling than what we see on re-runs or read in tabloids (shame on us, one and all), a side that gossip-o-philes don’t titter about at the water cooler: this first-time expectant mom is an award-winning ardent animal activist and humanitarian.

When the phone rings at nine on the nose, and the voice on the other end says: “Hi Mary-Jo, it’s Tori Spelling,” naturally, my first inside-voice response is: “What the heck is the Bel Air-raised daughter of a television mogul doing calling me on time? Shouldn’t she be eating bonbons?” But instead, I turn Donna and friends off, and settle in for a chat with the real thing.

MD: Okay, I need to know right off the top… Have you always been a Tori? Because I just can’t imagine you as a “Vicky” Spelling.
TS: No, I’ve always been a Tori. My full name is Victoria. But sometimes when my friends are mad at me they’re like: “Vick-eee…!”

MD: Has there ever been a time in your life when 90210 was really your zip code?
TS: No! And I never went to West Beverly High! There is no West Beverly High! I didn’t even grow up in Beverly Hills!

MD: When did you first become an animal person?
TS: Oh my gosh. When I was born!

MD: Out she came and she asked for a puppy?
TS: Seriously. We always had a houseful of dogs. Like a minimum of three at all times. It was funny because when I was five years old, I was with my dad at Gladstone’s…

MD: The restaurant?
TS: Yeah, in Malibu. And they had a lobster tank. And I was just horrified. I went outside by the ocean, and I was crying, and my dad came out and I told him: “One day when I grow up, I just want to live on a big piece of land with all the animals…”

MD: Is it true you wanted to be a vet?
TS: I did, when I was five. Right around the time of the lobster tank incident. I always wanted to work with animals… And then, when I signed with my agent, she said to me: “Hey, you’re an animal lover, right?” And I said: “Oh my gosh! The biggest!” And she introduced me to Much Love Animal Rescue. That day, I went home with a new agent, a new cause, and a new rescued canine.

MD: Hey, better than Christmas: A new dog, and an agent too!
TS: Only in Hollywood, right?

MD: Who are your animal children now?
TS: I have a lot. I have Mimi LaRue, my Pug. I have Ferris, like Bueller…he’s a Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix. And our newest addition is Chiquita, she’s a Corgi-Chihuahua mix. I rescued both Ferris and Chiquita from Much Love. And I have two cats, Madison and Laurel. My eight-year-old stepson (son of husband, actor Dean McDermott) wanted hamsters, so we have those now, too. And a fish.

MD: Is Mimi LaRue kind of the queen of the pack?
TS: She rules the house. She and Chiquita haven’t quite meshed yet. We just got Chiquita in March. I actually got her while filming my show So NoTorious. On it, I play a version of myself, so on the show, I run a rescue shelter. And we actually had one episode where we had Much Love in the episode. So we had this adoption fair where I’m working the booth and so they brought in different dogs that were up for adoption, and Chiquita was one of them. And the funny thing is, she and Ferris look almost identical. Except one is all white and one is all black. They’re like bookends with a Pug in the middle.

MD: A little Mimi sandwich on a piece of white and a piece of brown?
TS: Exactly. It looks funny though because Mimi dresses in clothes a lot…

MD: On her own…?
TS: Well, I help her.

MD: With the zippers?
TS: Yeah. She’s been on So NoTorious with me and she’s kind of famous for her attire. She has her own designer who makes her clothes, Little Lilly. They make the coolest, cutest dog clothes. And they send her stuff to wear all the time.

MD: Which is quite funny because, if she’s a Pug, she has kind of the anti-supermodel body.
TS: Oh yeah, tiny waist! Top heavy. Hmmm, kind of like me! We’re perfect together. I always joke though that you work hard as an actress to get to that status where designers are sending you stuff, and my Pug gets more free stuff than me!

MD: That is absolutely no fair.
TS: Well, Little Lilly will send two outfits, one for Mimi and one for Chiquita. And bless her heart, but Chiquita just can’t pull it off. She’s just so stout. She tries though, she really does.

MD: You’re like: “Mommy loves you, but let’s try something a little more flattering.”
TS: Exactly. She’s just a bit too rock and roll. She’s more of a rocker-chick.

MD: We need the Chiquita Supernova line… How’s your husband with all these animals?
TS: Great! We say that he has two stepkids and we have one natural, because I already had Mimi and Ferris, but we got Chiquita together.

MD: One natural? Soon to be two natural with an actual human baby on the way! Congratulations on that big news!
TS: Thanks so much! We’re very excited!

MD: I don’t suppose you were able to include any of the canines in your wedding ceremony?
TS: No, we got married in Fiji. And we had absolutely nobody there. Just us.

MD: Can you tell me what Much Love Animal Rescue is all about?
TS: Much Love is a non-profit, no-kill, animal rescue shelter. In LA, they scour the shelters and will pick up dogs that are due to be euthanized. They depend on foster parents and local vets to help. We do adoptions every weekend. And their goal is to one day open an animal sanctuary.

MD: Which is sort of like your little five-year-old-girl-self’s dream come true, right?
TS: Yes!

MD: How long have you been involved with Much Love?
TS: About five years now. It’s pretty hands-on. There are certain things you lend your name to because you believe in them and you want to help out. But then there are certain things that make you want to really dive in. And this is that thing for me. I have been on the streets of South Central chasing after a stray Chihuahua…and going under a car trying to get it!
Because it’s animals…you know, I want to do more. I actually have a jewelry line (Maven), and for Christmas one year, I designed a diamond dog bone necklace for my agent. When I gave it to her, we just got this idea: What if we sell them and donate all proceeds to Much Love! I actually had to ask for it back, to use it as a prototype. And 100 percent of the profits go to Much Love. At this point, we have already raised over $25,000. It’s been amazing.

MD: I understand that Much Love presented you with quite an honour this summer. I saw a clip of your acceptance speech and it was hilarious! [In part, her speech ran: “My family tells me that the word ‘dog’ was one of my first words. They told me first it was ‘dad’, second it was ‘dog’, and then third oddly enough it was ‘mom’. I don’t know why that order, but…”]
TS: They gave me a Humanitarian Award. There was a lot going on at the time. It was when the media was going crazy with everything. I knew I was going to get up there and people were going to look at me because of everything going on personally in my life. So I thought, why not make light of it rather than pretend it’s not happening. I’m just going to get it all out of the way so we can focus on the real reason we’re here. So I chose to do that, and everyone laughed and I think it made everyone feel a little more “Okay, phew.” And the award itself, it was just…what an honour!

MD: How has having animals helped you get through such a kooky year?
TS: Animals are amazing. They don’t judge you. It’s unconditional. And you know, it is hard. And not just with recent events, but in general. I haven’t had an easy road. In many ways I am thankful for that, because it’s made me have to work harder. But I’m just like anyone else. I hear the rumours, the gossip, I go onto the blogs, and I read the weeklies.

MD: That must drive you nuts.
TS: It’s hard… when people constantly slam you. It’s hard to take. And you have to kind of rise above it and go on. And at some point you have to learn how to laugh it off, but we’re all human and so it affects us on some level. And then you have your animals and they look at you and are like: “Oh, you’re the best. We don’t have any bad judgments of you!” Oh, they’re so amazing. As human beings, I think that’s our one fault, that we judge.

MD: I’ve heard you say that your dad was very influential on you when it came to a positive relationship with animals. Can you tell me a bit about the impact he had on you in that respect?
TS: Oh, definitely! My dad, oh, he was the biggest animal lover ever. Animals were his thing. They were treated like children. My mom would ask him not to feed them at the table at dinner, and he still would. He just loved them so much. On the weekends, he and I would go outside and just play with the dogs. I miss that.

MD: Who was your first pet?
TS: My first dog was Angel. She was a Poodle.

MD: Have you ever played that game where you take your first pet’s name and your first street name, and you come up with what your porn star name would be?
TS: Yeah, mine’s Angel Palm. People think I’m lying when I tell them that!

MD: What have you got coming up that we can look forward to in terms of professional gigs?
TS: I just did a movie with my husband called The Housesitter. It’s a thriller. And I will be guest starring in an upcoming episode of Smallville.

MD: What would you say that are you most proud of as a woman?
TS: I guess what I’m most proud of in general is of the path I have taken. Emotionally, spiritually…I think it’s been a lot different from what people would think. It’s been quite a journey, and at the end of it, I found something I really like. I found me.

The diamond dog bone necklace is available through MuchLove.org. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can also check out MuchLove.org for weekend adoption locations.