All those with wild and impertinent teenagers take heart: Kelly Osbourne, who first stepped into the spotlight in 2002 on the MTV award-winning reality series, The Osbournes, as the chubby, uber-bratty daughter of legendary bat-biting rock star Ozzy Osbourne, has blossomed. Her new incarnation— having battled alcohol and drug addiction, dropped 42 lbs., penned an autobiography entitled, “Fierce”, and wowed America with a stint on Dancing With the Stars—is that of designer muse and face of Madonna’s red-hot clothing line, “Material Girl”. But besides just looking the stylish part, the divine Miss O., who turns 27 next month, has a lot of heart and soul. And she’s determined to share her experience and wisdom to help empower other teens who may be feeling a little lost or frustrated. It’s no wonder that Madonna, who created the line with her 14 year-old daughter Lourdes or “Lola”, cast Kelly in the coveted role of personifying her fashion brand: This is one fearless young woman with something to say that goes far beyond ‘material’ obsessions. Kelly Osbourne was in Toronto recently to meet her fans at The Bay on Queen St. , where I talked with her about what it really took to grow up.
J: I was totally surprised the first time I had a conversation with you, last year at New York Fashion Week. I found you so down to earth, despite the fact that you grew up in that crazy scene.
K: I don’t think my parents would ever let us be like that. You know no matter how much money my father makes, no matter how successful he is in his career—I mean there’s not many people in his genre that are even still doing what he does…. you , you can probably count them on one hand. And that’s because he’s never forgotten where he came from: He will always be that boy from Aston living in a two-bedroom house with eight people. And he’s very adamant about us not being affected that way, and because we traveled so much and toured so much and have seen all walks of life, and been around the world and backwards since I was three months old, that gives you a better understanding of life—that appreciation for it, and everything that’s gone on in our family’s lives that its just I’m a true believer that no one’s better than anyone else. They just aren’t.
J: But we are living in a society, a culture, and certainly occupying a fashion scene where people are always comparing themselves, especially young women and girls….
K: When I was growing up I did that all the time, and it was one of the hardest things for me to get over. That was one of the biggest walls I had to break down to learn to love myself. And no matter how much you like the way that person looks you will never be that person, you will never look like that. You are you. So you’ve got to take what you have and work with it and make the best of what you’ve got. ‘Cause it’s not like I’m going to wake up and be Angelina Jolie am I? I’m five foot two, short and a little bit dumpy: This is me. And I like the way I look. But it takes a long time and a lot of kind of soul searching and a want for that to be able to become that way. Because I think a lot of girls get sucked into the ‘I’m not skinny enough, and I’m not pretty enough, and I’m not this and she has a better bag than me’. But at the end of the day, strip those clothes off and I guarantee you’re a better person than that person.
J: How old were you when you came to that realization?
K: (big sigh) It wasn’t that long ago, trust me. Probably, to the full package, was probably around 2007, when I moved back to America again and decided that I wanted to grow up.
J: But I guess that’s what really saved you in a sense—that realization of finally getting who you are what you bring to the table and what you can do for people.
K: And I don’t say the things that I say because I’m like ‘I am woman, hear me roar, girl power!’ It’s not like that. That’s just the way I feel about things. And if what I say helps somebody, that’s great. That’s why I was so happy to be involved in Material Girl, because their slogan is ‘There’s a Material Girl in everyone”, and I really like that. It’s fashionable clothing, at an extremely affordable price. And how great is that for a girl , to go out and buy something and feel great and be in fashion and look great and not have to literally break the bank for it?
J: Well, it’s ultimately empowering really, to feel like you’re part of something, and that you can really make your voice heard.
K: Because you read these magazines and it’s like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Christian Dior….and you think about all these girls at home that just really want that look but it kind of makes them feel like ‘Oh, I’ll never be good enough’. As superficial as that sounds, it is true from when I’ve been speaking to a lot of girls about Material Girl and how when they get dressed they feel more confident now because they feel like ‘This is me!” And there is something for every different kind of girl….But there are a few things I can’t wear cause they’re just not me. Like the Native American stuff… a tattooed Native American with sailor tattoos doesn’t quite mix!
J: But it’s not like you regret getting those sailor tattoos?
K: No. There’s a couple I regret… for example the keyboard on my arm? A bit drunk, don’t really remember getting it and I don’t know how to play the piano !(laughs)
J: What advice would you give young girls who really do want to exercise their individuality by getting tattoos?
K: If you want to be an individual, and you want to be unique, and want to be different don’t get a tattoo. Everybody has them. I regret a lot of mine and when I was younger I did it more to piss my parents off than I did because I really wanted them. (laughs). But there are a lot of them that I love and they do make me me. It’s not like I regret regret them, but I recognize that some of them are ridiculous.
J: Kelly you are so gorgeously honest and open. I don’t know if that’s something that comes naturally to you or if you’ve had to work to put yourself out there.
K: My friends tell me I almost have a form of autism where I’m incapable of not saying what I think. And it gets me in a lot of trouble. But if I’m thinking it, you probably are too. I just have the balls to say it.
J: And you haven’t suffered for it ?
K: -Yes I have !(laughs)
J: Well okay on some levels maybe. But look at you: You’re being entrusted with this important brand by a very important woman…
K: I knew that my life had changed so much when they asked me to be the face of Material Girl. I knew that my hard work had really really paid off. Because five years ago they would be have been like ‘Get that annoying chubby brat out of here now!’ You know what I mean? And this is a line that’s dedicated and marketed towards youth, and to have to be the face of that. You have to be somebody that mothers trust. And like when I go back and you think about all of that, it just makes me feel amazing that I’m apart of this, and how much my life has changed—that I’m sitting here, talking to you in Toronto, and we’re launching Material Girl- I never thought that this kind of stuff was going to happen because I went too far down hill.
J: It could never have been easy to have grown up in the public eye, like you did.
K: It’s not easy growing up anyway. Growing up sucks. Being a teenager sucks. But it’s just getting through that part of life and then you realize that there is so much more out there, and you don’t know everything. That was a big thing for me, I thought I knew everything. And the older you get you realize you don’t, and it’s fun that you don’t.
J: But how did you manage to transcend the BS and see the light when so many others go down a dark road?
K: I grew up in the industry. I grew up seeing everything.—the ins and outs of everything, the good, the bad and the evil of it all. And I think a lot of what happens with young Hollywood is they get thrust into a world that’s so foreign to them and I understand it. And suddenly you have to be here, there and everywhere. And this person wants this from you and you have to go and do this for someone else and you never get a moment to yourself and there’s so much pressure. I totally understand that. But that’s the same with any kid. Like what about kids going to college and they’re like ‘Oh my god, I’ve never been away from home before! How do I deal with this? Oh I’ll start drinking….’ It’s like that everywhere. Not just Hollywood.
J: Is it ever daunting for you to be representing Material Girl, to know that you know that you’re working with Madonna?
K: Yes! It’s one of the biggest honours of my life to work with somebody I admire so much and to have also gotten to work with Lola (Madonna’s daughter) is just incredible. She’s so smart and she really knows what she’s doing. It’s so interesting to see how somebody so young can be so clued in and self-confidant. She and Madonna have a beautiful relationship and I it was really lovely to see that. That gets missed by a lot of people: They have a perception of Madonna being quite a hard woman. But she’s not. She’s a smart woman—she’s a businesswoman, and she’s a good mom.
J: What have you personally gleaned from the relationship thus far?
K: Watching a fourteen year old girl put together clothes and design… this isn’t just something they’ve attached their name to. This is the real thing, and they work together on it, and it’s just so nice to see that. And I think ‘Oh my god! I’m so much older than you, and you are so together!’ I find that really inspiring.
J: You’re here in Toronto to meet your adoring public. How do you feel about that?
K: I’m so nervous. Oh my god, I was shocked when I got off the plane and there were kids waiting for me at the airport. And then when I left my hotel in the morning, they were all out there…. I couldn’t believe it. I’m like ‘You know where I’m staying?!’ Like this is so cool. Its just the novelty of people taking the time out of their day to come and see you will never wear off for me because that makes me feel really special and really lucky and I love them just as much as they love me because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here
J: And I’m sure it inspires you to be a better person and the best you possibly can be.
K: It does, because if I, excuse my French, fuck up now, I don’t just disappoint myself. I disappoint everyone… And that feeling of guilt, I don’t ever want to feel. Ever.
J: You’re an amazing role model. Who ever would have thunk it?
K: I know! My brother and I sat down the other day with this lady who’s known us our whole lives. And you know, my brother’s a policeman and does all sorts of stuff like search and rescue, and training dogs for disabled people, as well as TV producing and producing my dad’s documentary. And this lady just turned around and went ‘Who the hell would have ever thought you two would have ended up alright?’ And we were like, ‘You know what? You’re right!’