Tonight The City returns on MTV. It may not have a promo as fancy as that of the Hills, in which the girls are finally cut from the strings by which they hang from Adam DiVello’s meaty and powerful fingers, but it has just as much (if not more) tension. Between characters with that rare thing in reality TV — arcs. We rang Whitney Port up to talk about Olivia, her clothing line, her forthcoming first book, Kelly Cutrone, dating, and more. And she’s feistier than ever before.
As revealed in the trailer, Olivia is not supporting your line — were you surprised? What is your relationship like with her?
I was not so surprised by that. Olivia and I have never really been the best of friends. You know, at the time, yes, I was a little bit hurt because it wouldn’t have really taken that much for her to interview me for elle.com, and as a “journalist” or whatever she is for the magazine, your opinion doesn’t really matter. Your job is to interview someone and then report it, but she made it personal. I think that there’s obviously some level of insecurity on her part, and she’s showing it. I don’t know that she knows that she’s showing it, but it definitely comes through. It was a little bit hurtful, but Olivia’s one of those people who doesn’t care about anybody but herself. That’s why it’s not so surprising because she doesn’t want to help anybody else out. She’s only out for herself. So, if I expected something different from her, then maybe I would have been more hurt, but it’s like the same old thing with her.
It seems like there’s quite a bit of drama in store for this season of The City. What’s going to particularly surprise viewers?
I think the show has taken on a totally different look. At first it was kind of The Hills’ legacy, and it was very relationship-heavy, just kind of character-driven, and I think this season it’s really focused on our careers, and how we’re going to eventually make it in the fashion industry. I watched the first episode yesterday, and I was actually quite excited about it, because I think that, for girls, if you’re interested in fashion and have goals of being in fashion, I think it’s pretty cool that you can kind of see how to navigate your way through it in this way.
On to your fashion line, Whitney Eve, which we saw during Fashion Week in September: You had MTV cameras filming as you were trying to put out a runway show. Did they interfere?
It’s been a balance of both. On the one hand it’s been a little difficult, because I was worried about how the line was going to be portrayed, and they get every little detail of your process — the design process, the selling process, the presentation process, so not everything always goes smoothly and they’re there for all those hiccups. So that can be a little bit daunting, but at the same time, it’s also going to have such publicity and visibility because of it, so it’s like a double-edged sword.
What do you see as the next step for your line?
The next step is basically starting on my spring collection. I’m continuing to design it, I’m trying to make it a little more accessible and affordable for my customers and my viewership, and just continuing to work on it.
Speaking of making it more accessible, would you consider doing a diffusion line?
Definitely. I first wanted to establish myself and show that I actually had some design sense. It’s very easy for people to just put their name on something, especially in this industry — everyone seems to be doing that — and so it was really important to me that people kind of took me seriously at first. But I think I haven’t necessarily gotten to that point where people are taking me seriously yet, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be open to doing something on a larger scale.
Designer Adrienne Baravetto recently sued you, claiming she designed Whitney Eve but wasn’t paid or acknowledged for her work. Is there any truth to that?
[Publicist intervenes: “I’m sorry, she can’t comment on that, it concerns litigation.”] I can’t comment on that.
You’re not represented by People’s Revolution. Given Kelly Cutrone’s involvement in your career, why did you decide to go with another PR firm?
I’ve been an employee at People’s Revolution and I thought it was weird for me all of a sudden to become a client of theirs. And she was helping me out of the goodness of her heart, and she’s got a lot on her plate, so I figured I would just move to something else and keep my relationship with Kelly as kind of a mentor relationship and not a business relationship.
You’re writing a book. What can you tell us about it?
I’ve actually been working on it a lot. I’m coming out with basically a “how-to” guide. It’s called True Whit and it covers everything from fashion, beauty, interviewing for a job, just all different elements of your quarterlife crisis. Once you get out of college, what to do and where to go and how to navigate through it. I found that I had so many questions when I graduated college and had a job in L.A. and moved out to New York and had to start a whole new life for myself, so I thought that I would share my experience and anecdotes and kind of help out that same kind of girl.
Last season, we saw Roxy get you into a bit of trouble. Are you still good friends with her? Do you think she’s a bad influence on you?
I maintain a really good relationship with Roxy. I don’t think that she’s a bad influence, I just think that we have a really different way of doing things. Roxy and I still work together, but we’re kind of going our own separate ways. She wants to do something different now, which you’ll see, and she’s definitely trying to stay out of my shadow.
There’s been buzz that you’re dating Buried Life star Ben Nemtin. Did you meet through MTV?
We met through friends, not through MTV.
So it’s just a coincidence that you’re both on reality shows?
How has being on a reality show affected your dating life? Do you make an effort to balance a public and private life?
Now I’ve begun to do that. I think it’s really important to maintain that level of privacy. While I would go on little dates here and there this past season, I’m not looking to put the spotlight on a serious relationship, I really want to maintain that the show is career-oriented.
Do you think you were you more willing to put yourself and your relationships in front of the camera in previous seasons?
In The Hills, I never was. I had a boyfriend behind the scenes, and no one knew who he was, and it was just kind of under the radar in that way. But once I moved to New York I lived out a whole relationship in front of the camera, so I totally learned my lesson, and I just don’t think I could put myself in that position again.