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Whitney Port on the girl drama, the guy rumors and what it takes to survive 'The City'

December 1, 2009 |  1:07 pm
Whitney-port-cabEven when she was on “The Hills,” Whitney Port was an unlikely reality star. And in “The City,” she still seems a bit misplaced among her fellow castmates: the impulsive Roxy Olin, the ambitious Erin Kaplan and the mutinous Olivia Palermo.

“I was a normal 20-year-old student,” says Whitney Port, now 24. “Being on television definitely wasn’t impressive or a goal of mine. I went into it thinking this will help my fashion career, basically. I didn’t want my personal life on camera. I was very reserved and shy.”

Yet, despite her rather undramatic personality, Port shined even when conflict-prone Lauren Conrad was in the room and still does now among her rambunctious ‘City’ castmates. It’s in her own quiet way that she has gotten pretty much everything she ever wanted while, at the same time, inspiring those around her to help her do so. That’s what’s impressive about Whitney Port.

Recently, I spoke with Whitney about what it was like to work on her dream fashion line on-camera, what she thought about the other women on the show and the guys she encountered along the way.

In tonight’s finale, you get this huge opportunity to show your new line at Bergdorf Goodman, how’d that go?
It was very scary for me, because there aren't a lot of designers who show their first collection to Bergdorf. I obviously was really, really nervous and didn’t know if I was prepared. I had faith in my line, but I wasn’t even sure the line was ready to show to them. I didn’t have my hopes set at a very high level, because of that. Basically they gave me a lot of constructive criticism. They thought my Los Angeles aesthetic shined through the line a little too much. It was a learning experience for me. It’s just difficult because it’s all being shown on-camera. I’m getting judgments and opinions by more people than the norm.

When I interviewed Kelly Cutrone, she told me that she warned you that you would have more critics than normal. So, she was right?
Yeah, I definitely do. I did show my line at Bryant Park, which is not in this season, but I knew that I had to really prove myself as a designer more than anybody else out there. There are so many celebrity lines and there are so many reality show lines, actually, that haven’t really done well and haven’t shown much design sense. So I had to prove myself even more, that I really did take this seriously. I think no one ever expected me to put so much heart and soul into it. I guess the verdict is still out regarding what they think of my talent.

I know that you’re really close to Kelly now, but doesn’t she still scare you a little?
The more I’ve gotten to know Kelly, the less scary she has become. She definitely still puts me in my place. I can be surprised at the things that she could say to me still today. But she is so smart and so knowledgeable in this industry and really knows what she’s doing that I trust her so, so, so much. I kind of need that personality in my life because I’m so mellow and easygoing. She lights a fire underneath me and makes sure I’m on the right track. She’s also very, very motherly. She has taken such good care of me that I know she just wants the best for me. She’s not trying to reprimand me just for the sake of reprimanding me.

122 WHITNEY AND ROXY 2 Last week, we watched your “look book” shoot and Roxy nearly ruined it for you. Why do you give her so many chances?

I have a lot of faith in Roxy. As much as she can be a little bit out there and maybe sometimes a bit unfocused, she gets me and she gets my vision. And even though it may not be her vision, she really works as hard as she can to try to achieve what I ask of her. I also wanted to give Roxy the opportunity, because the only way that she’s going to learn is if she gets this responsibility. I don’t know how much Kelly wants to give her, so I thought maybe I could sort of guide her in the way that people have guided me.

At what point did everything go haywire?

I can sort of stand back sometimes, because I trust Kelly so much, and allow her to really take charge and be the boss. I think that Roxy stepped over the line a little bit and started displaying her opinions in an inappropriate way. That’s when I thought everything was getting out of control – when Kelly and Roxy started to fight. When it comes down to it, this is my collection and I want to be the deciding factor. So, I didn’t like being the middleman in a situation where I should have been the boss. Sometimes their feuding can get in the way of what needs to get done.

While I enjoy watching you develop your clothing line, did the producers pressure you to time its launch with the show’s shooting schedule?
Yes. Obviously, I have been doing this clothing line for longer than I’ve been filming “The City.” I tried to time it with the season, but at the same time this is my livelihood and as much as I wanted the show to coincide with the clothing line, I wanted to do what was best for the clothing line. Once this show is over, that’s pretty much all that I’ll have. So, yeah, I did hurry things a bit much, but I wanted to get it out there, and I wanted to show everybody what I was working so hard on.

On “The Hills,” you mostly limited your appearances to work situations. Did you set boundaries for “The City,” as well?
Basically, I decided I was going to take it day by day. I knew that if I decided to do “The City” that they were going to ask more of me than just going to work. I knew that if the show was going to be successful in this reality/soap opera arena, I was going to have to show a little bit more.

What happened with me, which really opened up my comfort zone, was meeting Jay [Lyon] when I first went to New York. We were actually filming for “The Hills.” I instantly felt so comfortable and confident with him. He was actually willing to do the show and that just made it OK to do it for some reason. He just made it seem so carefree.

OK, since you brought Jay up. I have friends in New York and they talk. According to them, you’re still seeing him. Is that true?
[Laughs] No, I’m not still dating Jay. I talk to Jay every couple weeks. We have a good friendship. I’m the kind of person who has stayed close friends with all of my boyfriends. We had a pretty amicable split. We are not dating, but we keep in touch.

Since we’re on the subject, let’s talk about some other guys. I felt like there was more chemistry with Harry Fackelmayer than Freddie. Why did you end up with Freddie?
I think what happened is that Harry was just too young. I still, to this day, do not know his real age. I feel like I’ve heard five different ages from he, his brother and his dad. I have no idea how young or how old Harry is, but I’m pretty sure he’s still in college. So, that to me is kind of a red flag. Guys, in my experience, mature a little bit later than girls do, so to go with someone three to four years younger than me wouldn’t be the smartest move right now.

Harry was definitely the one I met first. Harry wanted to bring Freddie and introduce him to me, so I don’t really know what happened there. Maybe they had a conversation and decided who was going to go for me. I’m not really sure.

The-city-10It’s pretty clear that while you’re cordial with Olivia, you’re not BFFs. How do you feel about her?
I’m just so indifferent about Olivia. I have obviously had my issues with her and I think that they were really, really petty and very immature. I tend to shy away from really dealing with situations [with Olivia], because I know where they’re coming from. I know that Olivia has something going on in her life where she has to compensate for it in this way and have that competitive nature. I’m not going to say I feel sorry for her, because I really don’t. I think that she has a great life and she’s a happy person. There’s something about her that I can’t blame her for, because I know there’s something going on that’s making her be this way. It’s hard to explain. You kind of have to know Olivia a little bit more in depth to realize why she is the way she is.

You have the fashion line you’ve always wanted. You’re on a hit reality show. What’s next?
That’s a good question. I just want to continue working on my clothing line. That’s really so dear to me and really what I love to do at the end of the day. I’ll be doing that whether the show continues on or not. Other than that, I really don’t know. I feel that’s the only constant in my life right now, which is very, very scary for me. [She laughs.] Like I said, I’m just trying to take it day by day.

-- Jethro Nededog (follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)

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Photos: Whitney Port opens up on "The City"; Whitney Port and Roxy Olin post-cake fight on "The City"; a rare moment with Whitney Port and Olivia Palermo on "The City." Credit: MTV