D’Eon Defies Ditzy Stereotype
Kim D’Eon lives a life of red carpets and couture gowns, but is a hard worker and Maritimer at heart.
By Nina Cherry
Normal is filming on a glitzy stage in a flashy cocktail dress and heels. It is discussing the history of the vibrator with Maggie Gyllenhaal and then flying to London for the premier of The Three Musketeers.
At least that’s what normal is for Kim D’Eon.
It’s a typical day for one of Entertainment Tonight Canada’s senior reporters. At 6:45 a.m. D’Eon turns off her alarm. Breakfast is a slice of organic rye bread with mashed avocado, salt and pepper and a cup of Tetley tea with almond milk. She cut out dairy last June, a struggle given her love of cheese. Sipping the tea from her favourite mug – the cream one with a blue and lavender glaze she picked up from the Mennonite village of St. Jacobs, Ontario – D’Eon eases into the day by watching Breakfast Television.
She shows up for work at 8:30 a.m. in skinny jeans, boots, and a loose cream sweater. With her hair in a ponytail and a face devoid of anything but moisturizer, D’Eon believes she looks a bit like a boy. “I’m the most self-deprecating person you’ll ever meet,” she laughs.
For the next hour and a half D’Eon will go through the daily shellacking routine of hair, makeup and wardrobe. After six years on the job she now has more of a say in her outfits. Today she gets to wear a black Bebe dress with “sleeves, thank the dear lord,” and comfortable shoes. It is a welcome reprieve from the usual skin tight ensembles D’Eon wears to galas and movie premieres.
On the red carpet viewers may see D’Eon as nothing more than Miss Entertainment – a brunette Vanna White with a microphone and a cameraman. In reality D’Eon is a quirky, inquisitive journalist with an infectious laugh and a work ethic that won’t quit. What viewers don’t know is she’s a 35-year-old Nova Scotian who is homesick for her family and the smell of the ocean.
D’Eon’s story starts in an unexpected place. The first four years of her life were spent in a trailer park off of Herring Cove Road in Spryfield, a hardscrabble part of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Childhood memories are fuzzy but fond: trips to the cottage in New Ross, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia; Madonna and Pat Benatar lip syncing competitions with older sister Kerry; winning first prize for her bunny costume in the grade seven Halloween contest.
“I’m the most self-deprecating person you’ll ever meet” - Kim D’Eon, a senior reporter for ET Canada.
In junior high D’Eon first began public speaking. She continued through high school at J. L. Ilsley. Adding model parliament, student council president, and the part of Miss Lynch in the student production of Grease her list of extracurricular activities grew. When it came time to apply for university she was unsure how her interest in public speaking could translate into a career. Her friends applied to journalism programs, so D’Eon decided to do the same.
With a scholarship in hand and a house within walking distance of school, D’Eon began the four-year Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) programme at the University of King’s College in Halifax in September, 1994.
Attached to D’Eon’s hip throughout the program was Lynn Roberts (née Cameron). Roberts knew the moment she met D’Eon the pair would be friends. “You know when you’re just attracted to someone – not in that way!,” says Roberts with a laugh. “You know, you’re just,” she pauses for the right word. “Magnetized.”
Roberts now lives in Kamloops, British Columbia. She traded in her pen and flip notebook to open her own company in 2004: Innergy Corporate Yoga. Roberts was happy with the decision to leave journalism behind, but knew that wouldn’t be the case for D’Eon.
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While Roberts left journalism classes wondering what to do for the week’s assignment, D’Eon was already talking on the phone to sources. D’Eon did edgy or informative stories; her piece on the morning after pill stood out amongst her peers.
D’Eon’s success – in school and career – didn’t surprise Roberts. It also came as no shock to D’Eon’s former journalism professor, Michael Cobden.
“She had so much energy and motivation to do journalism,” says Cobden. “Nothing is more important than that – energy and persistence. That’s how you get the stories. And she had that in spades.”
What D’Eon lacked was confidence. On graduation day in May, 1998, a single question played on repeat in her mind: did I make a mistake? Poised on the library steps in a black robe, the rabbit fur trim tickling her collar bone, D’Eon was convinced her options were: crime reporter for the Chronicle Herald, a daily news reporter covering politics or nothing.
Three months later D’Eon got a call from the CBC and a research position on the youth show Street Cents. The job was almost serendipitous: D’Eon had appeared on the 1989 Street Cents pilot (back when it was called Money Penny) when she was 13.
She spent a year as a researcher and producer for Street Cents in Halifax. She was happy, even though she had always envisioned herself in front of the camera lens, not behind. In the summer of 1999 Street Cents changed its format: the show was looking for hosts with a journalism background. D’Eon was asked to audition.
“I remember being so excited they had asked me,” says D’Eon. “I wouldn’t have had the courage to ask them.”
Three agonizing weeks later – D’Eon could hear the producers discussing every candidate from her cubicle – she was pulled into producer Barbara Kennedy’s office. It was her 23rd birthday. Kennedy delivered the verdict.
She had won the part.
“I just knew in that moment this is what I wanted to do. I just felt a huge sense of knowing my place,” says D’Eon. “I knew it was going to change my life. I knew I had got my foot in the door, the right door this time.” D’Eon won two Geminis and an international Emmy while hosting Street Cents. She also co-hosted the CBC’s 50th anniversary special with Don Tremaine before moving on to CBC Newsworld and then to work as a reporter on The Hour with George Strombolopolous.
The question became: what would Kim D’Eon do next?
On Sept 12, 2005, ET Canada airs for the first time. D’Eon’s friends and family gather around the television in Halifax and wait for D’Eon to appear. Her hair is loosely curled and shoulder length, with sideswept bangs. Standing on an actual red carpet, D’Eon is wearing a billowy, lilac kimono-style dress and holding an enormous microscope. D’Eon’s segment is 52 seconds long; she is on screen for less than twenty.
D’Eon has been with ET Canada for six years and is on screen for much longer now, conducting interviews everywhere from London to Swaziland. ET Canada airs five times daily across Canada, and the show claims a total daily audience of 500,000. Friends and family continue to watch the show as often as possible. But D’Eon’s number one fan is her four-year-old nephew, Marcus Trench.
“He says, ‘Kimmy!’ whenever he sees her on TV,” says Kerry Trench, D’Eon’s 37-year-old sister and mom to Marcus and Bradley, 17.
Trench is used to hearing her sister’s voice flit out of the television as she passes by the kitchen, but the novelty hasn’t completely worn off. D’Eon once signed an autograph for her grandmother’s hairdresser.
“She looks like she fits into that world perfectly,” says ET Canada co-star Roz Weston. “She’s tall, she’s gorgeous, (and) she looks dynamite in a dress.”
But D’Eon generally shies from the limelight. Celebrity status is weird for the Haligonian who is euphoric in jeans and a T-shirt with a glass of Fat Bastard – a $15 bottle of wine – in her hand.
Unexpected? Maybe. But D’Eon takes pleasure in being a surprise.
|The Quotable Kim D’Eon|
Bookshelf: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, and Kevin O’Leary’s Cold Hard Truth.
Hair curly or straight: Curly. It’s naturally curly, but then I have to straighten it and then I have to curl it again for the show. If I left it the way that it normally goes I would never have a job. It’s unruly and gnarly.
Tea or coffee: Tea. Always tea. Earl Grey or orange pekoe, but just straight up. Give me some Tetley and I’m fine.
Lipstick or lip-gloss: Gloss.
What would I not expect to find in your house: A coffee table photo book by Terri Richardson. It’s from Denmark. It’s so grotesque and I love it. It’s a crazy coffee table book. If I had it out and you came over you would think “who the hell am I talking to right now?”
Purse: Big, huge, honkin’ shoulder bag. I got it when I was in Italy. We found this mom and pop shop that made these leather bags.
First crush: Alyssa Milano, but not in that way. I had a girl crush on her for ages. I was obsessed with her when I was younger. Michael Jackson, I had a crush on him when I was in grade two. Weird to say now. My first real crush was Tim Ryan, back from my Spryfield days. He had black hair and blue eyes. He was a hockey player. Grades four through six.
Who knows you best: My sister.
Favourite movie: Sixteen Candles. I probably watched it 20 times as a kid on VHS, over and over again.
Hate mail: When I was at Street Cents we had somebody saying something horrible, like “who’s the Alanis Morissette lookalike with the irritating voice?” That was my first year working there and I remember feeling pretty dejected about that.”
“There is a misconception about entertainment journalism and entertainment shows,” she says. “(There is an) idea that if you’re a model you can all of a sudden turn into a reporter because you can put a dress on and walk in high heels, but that’s not how it goes. It’s so much more involved. We make it look easy and glamorous, but when it’s all said and done there is a lot of work that goes into it.”
D’Eon writes, edits, and produces many of her pieces, on top of researching and interviewing.
“Kim doesn’t live and breathe entertainment,” says Weston. “She’s really smart when it comes to … everything from politics to what you should be eating to fighting for women in this business.”
It doesn’t escape D’Eon for a day she is very lucky. She is aware of her notoriety and uses it. Through ET Canada she has hosted benefits for everything from Lupus to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She has spent the past year working with Care Canada: an organization aimed at empowering women worldwide to fight poverty, injustice, and inequality.
When Catherine Stockhausen recommended D’Eon to executive producer Zev Shalev in 2005 it was because of her smarts and talent. And also, maybe, because of her striking resemblance to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
“She is disarming,” says Stockhausen, who worked with D’Eon on Street Cents. “I think a lot of that has to do with her coming from the East Coast. She puts people at ease … (she’s) so personable.”
“Almost folksy,” she adds, “though I don’t know she’d like that word.”
D’Eon probably wouldn’t, given her mock cry of injustice when boyfriend Matt calls her decorating style “country”.
“It’s cosy,” says D’Eon.
Matt is an Ontarian – a first after D’Eon’s list of East Coast-only boyfriends.
D’Eon swelled with pride as she watched Matt experience Nova Scotia for the first time.
“’There are lakes right by the ocean,’ he said, ‘how can that be?’” says D’Eon. Apart from visiting D’Eon’s three separate “parental units” the couple did touristy things, like a day trip to Peggy’s Cove for clam chowder at The Sou’Wester restaurant.
D’Eon moved to Toronto in July, 2003 – a population switch from 370,000 in Halifax to 2.6 million. Along with necessities she brought a heap of photographs and a stone from Bradley inscribed “Home Sweet Home”. Trying to get back to her real home as much as possible, she usually manages to visit five times a year.
“It’s hard for her to leave,” says Trench about her younger sister. “Kim misses everyone immediately. It’s a real struggle for her. The biggest thing she’s struggled with … is missing home so much. I don’t know how many years it took her to settle into Toronto, but I’d say it was a good five years before she was like okay, I think I might be able to stay here and make my life here.”
D’Eon agrees. Her stomach – where she feels all her emotions – was queasy and her chest was heavy and ached for her family and friends back home. She missed afternoons at Clay Café with Bradley, il Mercato’s risotto balls, the Public Gardens. She craved the smell of the ocean. She would walk through Toronto’s distillery district because it reminded of Halifax’s Historic Properties.
“I knew you were Canadian!,” countless celebrities have told D’Eon. “You’re so nice!”
“I always reply ‘Well, actually, I’m from Nova Scotia. So I’m even nicer,’” says D’Eon. “I love it there. I love the people there. I could never be prouder to call it my home, and (I) brag about it all over the world.”
D’Eon has a four-month calendar on the wall behind her desk, a paper day planner that sits on her desk, and another four-month calendar in her Blackberry. Yet she isn’t sure where she will be in five, ten, or 20 years from now.
“I’ve never been a master plan kind of gal,” she says. Her attention at the moment is focused on how many lamps she can get Matt to allow in a room (“I think three”), keeping her tabby cats Nate and Bean away from polar fleece toys, and downloading some soothing ocean music to remind her of home.