This has been a tremendous year for Art of Life. We've had such amazing experiences and have had the extreme pleasure of meeting some really exceptional personalities. Some of my favourite moments include meeting Tom Ford at his store opening in New York City and him knowing who I was. Now that is a moment I will always remember. I learned alot during my exclusive interview with him at his beautiful home in London. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that no matter what happens to you in life - especially when the best laid plans go awry, you have to believe that you will be okay. I remember thinking if someone like Tom Ford, who was at the top of his game when he was Creative Director for Gucci, could feel lost then it's okay when us regular people feel that way too. He has bounced back and is better than ever.
Ford did say that it feels like all the hard work in his life has prepared him for this moment where he has come into his own. I've had many people ask me what he's really like. All I can say is that the Tom Ford I met was funny, easygoing, and kind. I laughed alot while filming with him. Make no mistake he knows exactly when the camera is rolling and he performs accordingly. He's very much in control but he's also very accomodating. I had fun on that shoot.
Another great moment for me was meeting designer Carlos Miele in New York. This Brazilian designer who is known for his red carpet dresses touched me with his sincerity and passion for helping people less fortunate than him, especially those in his hometown of Sao Paolo. He teared up when talking about children who aren't getting the medical care they need or the women who can't feed their families. HIs foundation is one that helps these people directly.
He employs them to work in his factory and he uses their techniques and craft in his designs and on the dresses which have been worn by many celebrities. I remember thinking while we sat in his store in the meatpacking district in NYC that he's not doing this for any notoriety or fame. He genuinely feels and cares for his fellow Brazilians.
Art of Life also had the privilege of travelling to Cuba. Wow...what a fantastic experience that was for me. Amid the dilapidated facade of the buildings along the waterfront there is this richness of culture that permeates through the alleyways. No matter how poor the majority of Cubans are, there is this wealth of colour, food, music, and love that you can feel just walking through Havana. I met this wonderful grandmother. I believe she was in her 80s. She was at the home of the dance instructor I was scheduled to meet to learn some salsa. She had lost a lot including family members but she embraced us with such love and emotion that when we were filming the dancing we had to get her to dance with us and she was good! Really good. I will always remember her smile and how she would daydream as she sat by the window looking out onto the street. For me, that is what I will think when I think about Cuba.
There have been so many moments that are embedded in my mind. Moments that when I'm having a bad day I will think about and they will make me smile. Alot of those memories involve working with the Art of Life crew and what you all don't see and what is "behind the scenes".
One moment being travelling with our new producer Paula Sailes. We were waiting to depart Kuala Lumpur for Beijing after spending only 36 hours in KL to interview Motocross champion Casey Stoner. We were so tired that any little thing made us laugh. We were almost drunk with tiredness. I felt sorry for our cameraman James Stacey who had to put up with us gabbing away on the plane. We just didn't stop talking and laughing! And Paula has a very loud, infectious laugh. But that's the thing. See, Paula, James, and I are really friends and we love working together. When we travel we spend A LOT of time together. The only time we aren't together is when we're sleeping. We become family for each other. I couldn't ask for a nicer and more talented team. Each of us work together to bring out the best in each other. Sure we argue and we disagree but we respect the other's opinion and always come up with a compromise.
Antonia Mortensen, the associate producer extraordinaire makes sure we are where we're supposed to be. Her itinieraries are so detailed I am starting to feel lost without her. She's also brilliant at coming up with ideas for the show. Antonia is a godsend.
We all realize that we're extremely fortunate to do what we do, to have the experiences that make us ask "do we really get paid to do this?", and to meet the people who help make the show colourful, entertaining, yet informative. We have fun but we work VERY long days and most of it is quite stressful. That awareness of how lucky we are and that enjoyment certainly comes out in the show. At least I believe it does.
Thank you all for your support this year. I love reading your comments! I wish you all the love and happiness in 2008. Stay tuned for alot more coming from us. M.