As Kristin Cavallari, star of the reality show The Hills, said on the series finale, “It’s time to make new memories.” Canada’s own Jessi Cruickshank, the skinny 28-year-old redhead who won our hearts and made us laugh on MTV’s The Hills: The After Show and its various incarnations over four years (including The City: Live After Show which she co-hosted with Dan Levy) is packing up and leaving Toronto, moving to Los Angeles to pursue another opportunity. “I have a very good offer, but I’m contractually obliged not to say anything at the moment,” she says. “I will definitely have a bigger audience.” (The Hills series finale was the most-watched program in MTV history; Cruickshank and Levy’s special After Show at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood attracted 300,000 viewers.)
It’s not the first offer Cruickshank has received from the U.S. during her four years on MTV. “Now just seems like the right time,” she says. Not bad for a girl who jokes that she got her start in life in a fast-food joint, an A&W in Calgary where her mom went into labour, which may explain why she is a vegetarian today. “Isn’t that the least classy birth you can imagine? I came unexpectedly early. I hope I wasn’t born on the floor at least. I mean, I hope I was at least born in a booth.”
Cruickshank went to U of T, where she got a degree in drama and English. Before she sent in a demo tape to MTV, just to see what would happen, she had been teaching special-needs children. “To be honest, I really wasn’t interested in reality TV. I wanted to do something grand and important. MTV showed me Laguna Beach and I thought it was the worst show I’d ever seen. But a few months later, I was hosting the after show for it and I had become a reality fan.”
Cruickshank has dabbled in television before, hosting a show on YTV and appearing in a commercial for Shoppers Drug Mart. Recently she played a character on The Rest of My Life, a movie that will conclude the ninth season of Degrassi: The Next Generation. “You know, I never considered myself to be a funny girl. I think it’s because I have red hair. Growing up, everyone made fun of me. I’m a solid fan of Kathy Griffin. When you have red hair and you’re constantly being called ‘flaming ginger’ or worse, you develop some sort of personality. It forces you to defend yourself.”
Cruickshank amazingly doesn’t seem to notice how famous she’s become. She has more than 42,000 followers on Twitter, making her at one point one of the country’s top five most-followed tweeters. And though she and Levy poked fun at the show and the characters during their After Show, she admits, now that the show has ended, she did become friends with some of the cast. Though “Spencer Pratt would call us and leave messages at least every couple of weeks cofamemplaining about something we said. I think we made them get a thicker skin,” she says.
Cruickshank, who says her family and friends are “so not Hollywood,” does seem to have broadcasting in her genes. Her mother, Joyce Resin, once hosted the CBC show Alive: The Picture of Health; her older sister works as a reporter and anchor in Boston.
Cruickshank’s boyfriend (he’s also in the entertainment business) is now working in L.A. “He’s always been based in New York so we will be in the same country and city for the first time!”
Although she knows she is going to have a much higher profile with her new gig, she’s not going to let it go to her head. “My best friends don’t really care what I do. I don’t think I could be friends with people who only thought what I did was cool.” Cruickshank has a couple of friends in L.A. and as friends go, they’re not too shabby. “I went to school with Seth Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg. I’ve already notified them I’ll be harassing them daily. Whenever I’ve been out with them in Los Angeles, it seems they hang out with a Canadian crew. So it shows that you can live in Los Angeles and handle fame and still be down to earth.”
Will she miss Dan Levy? “We’re like brother and sister. We’ve never got into an all-out yelling fight, but we do put each other in place. You may hear me sniffle now.”