Wendy Stuart is a powerhouse in the world of entertainment. An actress, model, TV Host, filmmaker, author and comedienne, there is nothing that she cannot do. Dubbed by her friends “the Kathy Griffin of fashion”, Wendy’s hilarious, occasionally poignant story of how she became – and has remained for 30 years – one of the most successful “fit” models in the country (that size 8 you’re wearing might very well be based on Wendy Stuart Kaplan’s figure), is told with a Griffin-esque sense of humor untarnished by malice. From studying voodoo in Nigeria through years of taking mind-numbing jobs just to pay the rent, to her success in the present day where she can say of the women’s underwear sold at Wal-Mart, modeled on her size eight body, “I cover the asses of the masses.”
As an actress, print model, and stand up comedienne, Wendy has worked in film, television and theatre and has made appearances on many syndicated and daytime talk shows. Her fun personality and quick sense of humor made her a standout guest whether she was modeling unusual wedding gowns on Geraldo or selling shoes on Spiegel TV. Her eclectic career also includes being voted Mrs. NY, going on to compete in the National Mrs. America pageant.
She hosts three hit show, “If These Walls Could Talk” with Co-Host, Tym Moss, TriVersity Talk! With Steven Bloomer-Teague, and the hilariously funny “Pandemic Cooking with Wendy.” We think you will love what she had to say……
What is the best advice that you’ve gotten and given?
Ha! I love when people give advice. It’s usually based on platitudes and opinions and very rarely has anything to do in helping the person they’re giving advice to. However, there are always exceptions to that rule. I tend to take advice from people that I consider intelligent and sensitive. If you’re going to give advice you need to think about what someone is going through and listen really listen to what they’re saying. And be empathetic to what they’re saying. So probably the best piece of advice given to me and that I’ve passed on to other people as well is this: Feelings change on a daily basis. One day is different from the next. Remember this when you are feeling trapped or hopeless. Because it is not permanent. If you are in a situation that makes you feel like you can’t change anything, know that you can. Because in living life we need to embrace change. We all have that power.
If you could choose celebrity parents who would they be and why?
Lucille Ball and Sean Connery! Can you imagine them together? She is one of the best comedians of all time. Every episode of I Love Lucy is really timeless. You can run it against current shows and the relationship of Lucy with Ethel and Lucy with Ricky is hilarious. Sean Connery because he is an inspiration. Dynamic, powerful, handsome there isn’t anything he couldn’t do. He was the most believable 007. Imagine having a mom who was a comedian with incredible wit, who had her own unique way of handling a situation, and was beautiful, and a dad that could conquer anything! Come to think of it, my parents were very much that!
If you were a super-hero what would your power be?
The Avenger for sure! It’s so much my personality to fix unjust situations, to right the wrong, to balance the scales, and at all times defend the innocent. And I believe those who are guilty of causing harm should pay! Wow! I think I totally identify with Superman! Mild mannered actress and TV host by day, superhero by night!
Your show “If These Walls Could Talk” seems to really be taking off….why do you think that is?
Oh that’s easy! It’s entertaining and authentic. Look at my cohost Tym Moss. He is spontaneous and a great interviewer. Look at our range of guests, from celebrities in the entertainment world, to writers, comedians, cabaret performers, producers, you name it, we’ve had them on. But here’s what makes the show really special. We are authentic and we go deep…. It’s not about how famous you are, it’s about the challenges you’ve faced getting there. I personally love people’s life stories, how they overcame obstacles, what their upbringing was like, who affected them, good or bad. We keep it very very real. A new author that not a lot of people know is as important as an incredible musician that everyone knows. Every single person has a story and that’s what we want to hear on this show. That’s what we want to share with our audience. And one thing I tell all my guests, we’re not about asking questions, we’re about having a conversation. Tym and I can talk about anything and that is what sets us apart as hosts, and the best thing a guest can tell us is that they had a great time on the show. We enjoy each and every guest. And honestly if it weren’t live-streamed we would sit down at that amazing bar at Pangea where we broadcast and have a drink with them after. Live-streaming from Pangea Restaurant also gives authenticity to what we do, and raises awareness of this amazing venue that has hosted so many talented artists in their space and continues to do so. They have shone a light on the arts for 35 years now we want to shine a light on who they are as well. And now what is starting to happen is we can bring artists into Pangea and if they are NYC based, actually have them sit next to us and interview them.
You’ve told the story before but for The Spotted Cat please talk about your impulsive trip to Africa?
That’s funny. What looks impulsive to other people is actually me acting on my intuition or easier put, a vibe that I feel. I’m a member of the Explorers Club, a unique organization worldwide with around 3400 members that are explorers which includes scientists, astronauts, cavers, biologists, journalists, divers, film makers, and probably some categories I’m leaving out. What we all have in common is an insatiable curiosity about the world and a willingness to push boundaries in air, sea, land, and space by that curiosity. I became a member by producing a short film with my husband Alan Kaplan in the remote tribal areas in Ethiopia, spending time with the Karo, Mursi, and Hamar people. The film was originally supposed to be about the body painting, dress, and traditions that they all had that have not changed. Like using cattle for payment instead of money. Or having clay plates in their lips, or intricate body painting. And that was in the film, but what the film ended up being about was saving the life of a child dying of malaria. And it costing 10 dollars for the medicine. And children dying every day of malaria. I came back from Ethiopia and all I could think about was getting back to Africa. Telling a story, raising awareness, making a difference. So I joined The Explorers Club. One night they had two women give a talk about rescuing gorillas and chimpanzees from poachers in Cameroon. Their body parts being sold for “bushmeat” a delicacy in China, the Middle East, and even secretively here is the US. These women opened up primate rescue centers in Cameroon, taking in the babies of the killed primate parents. The babies were raised to adulthood, and put with other gorilla and chimpanzee families in four acre enclosures because they cannot be released into the wild again or they would be killed. So the night of the lecture there were items you could bid on in a silent auction. One was a trip to stay at Sanaga Yong Chimpanzee Rescue. I put our names down immediately. I should have wondered why we were the only ones on that sheet of paper. And they called a few days later to tell us we won, and I called United Airlines to use my frequent flyer miles to get to Cameroon. And at that moment decided I was going to make a film about Ape Action Africa and its director Rachel Hogan, and Sanaga Yong Chimpanzee Rescue run by Dr. Sherry Speed. The film is “Whisperers and Witnesses: Primate Rescue in Cameroon” and it won best documentary in the Chelsea Film Festival. I produced and did all the interviews in the film. And my husband Alan Kaplan did the shooting. We are a very small crew! And as for us being the only names on that sheet at the silent auction? When I arrived in Cameroon I realized the true meaning of the words “no tourist infrastructure” which translates to buying 50 bottles of water when I got there to drink, use for cooking, and sometimes bathing, non-working toilets or no toilets, and malaria carrying mosquitos, resistant to the malaria medicine I was taking. I was there for 10 days, and there were moments I thought I could die there and no one would ever know. Especially when my satellite phone which worked anywhere I traveled in Africa, did not work in parts of Cameroon. And yes, I’m impulsive and would go back there in a minute if the chance arose. To be 8ft from an adult gorilla or chimpanzee, to observe their behavior, to see how they are so similar to us, sharing 97 percent of our DNA is amazing. You look into their eyes and the connection is instant.
Knowing what you know now is there anything you would have done differently looking back?
I spent a lot of time trying to please people I met. Agents, managers, friends, looking for approval and validation. But that is something you tend to do when you are young, insecure, and have no idea what path you should be on. But maybe that’s how we evolve to where I’m at now. Which is to say I only listen to my inner voice, and will consider what other people say but my intuition and inner voice come first. And not caring about negative vibes someone might have towards me. I make it a point of surrounding myself with people who care and support me. Call it Team Wendy. When I look back at some of the people I had in my life along the way, the drama, and the emotional vampires, I say to myself “girl what the heck were you thinking”!
What is your best quality? And your worst?
I am loyal to a fault. I see people in the world through rose colored glasses. I’m trusting. I give 150 percent. Unfortunately those are my worst qualities as well. Because I don’t want to believe bad gossip if I’ve got someone on a pedestal, which often blinds me to who a person really is and they might not be in my court. Again that inner voice now jumps in and I listen. And I say no. And I walk away if I need to. (Okay I’ll admit I still wake up at 2am wondering if I did something wrong and that is why the relationship ended).
Tell me something about yourself that no one else knows.
That’s funny! I’m an open book. No filter. And I’m out in the world in such a public way as a performer, I will sit down and tell a stranger my life story. Stray dogs come up to me in the street. So do many crazies as well. People from foreign countries ask me for directions. I’m a magnet. You see it’s my energy. It’s very wild, and it makes things happen. And that’s just the way I like it. I want to live my life “loudly abundant”. And I’m doing a pretty good job of it!
In any order you wish please tell us what is going on in your life career wise. Chaotic Abundance! What Day Is It?
Well let’s talk about my new normal. I have so much happening career wise I have three calendars now. During the Pandemic I developed three shows. Two are livestreams and one is a taped cooking show. “If These Walls Could Talk”, “Triversity Talk” and Pandemic Cooking With Wendy a comedy cooking show that someone recently compared to a drag show…. I’m focusing on developing them for larger platforms and getting them distributed. It is now time for me to promote my own projects. So I am actively seeking someone, an agent who can sell my products and sell me. I continue to audition and book acting and modeling jobs, and am free lancing more than ever as there is a plethora of work out there now. I will be finishing a documentary “Working Dogs: A Love Story” that I started over 2 years ago. I will continue to guest and cohost on other people’s projects. And I will continue to use all of my platforms to raise awareness and money for the causes I believe in. Because I’ve always believed giving back is a huge component of a successful career. I’ve gone back to emceeing and performing comedy and parodies in clubs. I love doing live shows and seeing a real audience. It’s a blessing to not be trapped on Zoom 24/7.
And what’s next for Wendy?
All of the above and whatever else the Universe has in store for me. I’m so ready! I’m on fire!
Check out Wendy Stuart TV on YouTube here:
Subscribe and listen to “If These Walls Could Talk” on Apple Podcasts/iTunes here:
Photo Credits: Billy Hess