By Olga Barsky
Like any good entertainment, The Real Housewives of Toronto, part of the immensely popular Real Housewives franchise, is created to entertain. With endless hours in the editing room, the show will never present the women as their whole selves, but strip and splice until dramatic story lines unfold. In the world of reality television especially, the world “real” has almost but lost all meaning. And it seems fair to assume that no one can be as sweet as they ‘portray’ themselves in this highly augment version of reality.
So who are these women, really? Yesterday, I was invited to spend a day with Ann Kaplan Mulholland to get to know her. Here’s what we did, and what I learned.
I join Ann in flight, having just wrapped a morning interview. I am immediately struck by how warm and relaxed she is despite her whirlwind schedule. I feel like I’m chatting with a friend who I haven’t seen a while.
I wonder how somebody with so much responsibility (Ann is the CEO of iFinance Canada in addition to being an author, public speaker and media personality) can be this chill. Like us, she loves checking her Instagram, she’s also fun and funny, thoughtful and totally present. Shockingly present in face.
I picture her coming home and punching walls to unwind, but she swears that she’s always this easy going and the key is to surround yourself with good people and positive energy.
On The Real Housewives of Toronto, we hear the odd comment in passing about her large family, but it may be the clearest window into the real Ann.
She’s exceptionally devoted to her nine kids, including two that she adopted after her sister’s passing, and her youngest, a girl from Ethiopia who was brought to Canada for life-saving surgery. She’s cognizant of raising strong and independent kids who contribute positively to society, and she beams ear-to-ear as she tells me about their work ethic and accomplishments.
We begin the day at Fiorio on Cumberland for hair and makeup. Here we have a chance to relax and chat about life and the show. We talk about some of her favourite moments and take a lot of silly videos (be sure to check them out on Instagram).
Next, we shop, hitting some of Ann’s favourite designer consignment boutiques in Yorkville. Before I even realize what’s happening, Ann picks out a Lucite cuff for me along with a vintage Dior charm belt (both go perfectly with my outfit) and rips off the tags before swiping her plastic. It’s clear that her generosity is genuine. She doesn’t take no for an answer.
We continue to SpaMedica to say hello to her husband, Steven Mulholland, one of Canada’s most respected plastic surgeons. Ann has one of the dermatologists put together some product for me, but not before I get shamed for not washing my face regularly. How’s that for real?
As we sit down to a cozy late lunch at Sassafraz, that feeling that this all can’t be real returns. What a day it has been. I blurt out that I once brought my own Parmesan to a high-end restaurant because I was determined to make the most of my pasta cheat-meal. When I think that I’ve finally done it and embarrassed myself, Ann laughs and whips out a few packages of chilli flakes from her purse, giving me one to keep. She puts them on everything!
Today is the season finale where we see Ann’s vow renewal. Her first wedding was very casual, in Florida while on a business trip, so this was her time to finally do it up in a way that reflects their sparkly life. The best part? Ann’s totally over-the-top black custom gown made by Evan Biddell, complete with a twenty-foot-long train.
Ann, thank you for showing me what a day in your beautiful life looks like, and for serving as an example of what’s possible when you pair an entrepreneurial spirit with a killer work ethic and kindness. And thank you for the chilli flakes. Something tells me I’ll be carrying these in my wallet for a while, as a welcome reminder to always keep it real.