Tori Spelling grew up in one of Hollywood's most famous families, but we feel like she grew up with us, thanks to her role as Donna in a little show called Beverly Hills, 90210. And since this former West Beverly Hills High gal has made more headlines lately, we couldn't wait to sit down with her to discuss her latest memoir and her big plans for the holidays.
We met up with the multitasking mom of four at invenTORI, an adorable Sherman Oaks boutique that she curates herself and that's packed with a mix of vintage finds and modern products.
"Everything that is here in the store, this is truly me," she tells us. "If you look around the store, you'll be like, 'Oh, I get who Tori is.'"
Surveying the square footage and its time-worn treasures, we deduce Tori Spelling is a woman who values character, thinks of imperfections as fingerprints and — especially — loves a good story. And when you're the daughter of legendary TV and film producer Aaron Spelling, you tend to recognize a good story.
In 2008, Tori decided to flip the script on the media — which has been responsible for so many misconceptions about her family — by telling her own stories. Her first book, sTORI Telling, landed on the New York Times bestseller list and was touted as the best celebrity autobiography of 2008.
Her newest, Spelling It Like It Is, is much like her first, she says, in that it is something that she strongly felt she needed to share with her fans.
"I wanted to do this one because I hadn't caught fans up," she explains. "I only had Liam and Stella when I wrote my last book, Uncharted TerriTORI, so I was like, 'I want to do another one.'"
And much like her previous books, Spelling It Like It Is doesn't just deal in the happy-go-lucky stuff.
"For me, the thing I really wanted to tell — that was a big story for me — was my fourth pregnancy with my son, Finn," Spelling says. "It was a pregnancy that was really difficult, and I had some really dark moments."
Although the actress had discussed the pregnancy in interviews after Finn was born, she says she didn't feel the "relatively light" version was fair to her fans.
"I didn't want to get too dark," she elaborates. "But in my book, I'm able to tell, like, exactly what I went through. And that was an important story for me to want to share with my fans."
As for all those pesky headlines (think "Poor little rich girl complains about being broke" and "Tori Spelling claims they can't afford husband's vasectomy"), Spelling didn't realize the book would cause such a stir.
"There have definitely been things taken from the book that made headlines that did shock me," she says, "because, you know, when you read it within the story and hear it in my voice, it sounds very different from when you pull, like, sentences and put them in the media."
Many of the headlines, she says with a laugh, came from parts of the book she didn't even think were that salacious.
Still, she wouldn't go back and change the course of fate, even if she could.
"I honestly don't believe in regrets... I really don't," Spelling declares. "I think letting people into my life has been absolutely life-changing, actually, for me."
The negatives that piggyback on writing books and doing reality shows are outweighed by how therapeutic the process has been for her.
"There were a lot of misconceived notions about me, and it was so nice when I was able to say, like, 'Here's the real me,'" says Spelling.
Besides, doing so has allowed her to connect with fans in a way she never could before.
"Everyone always says, 'Your life looks so perfect and easy,' and I'm like, 'No, it's not,'" she laughs. "I'm like, 'Thank you. It's a fun life and I'm so grateful for it, but it's... challenging.'"
While Spelling admits her family isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill variety, she vows they are far more normal than you may think.
"We might live in different circumstances — everything's a little bit different — but at the core, we're a nice, normal family, and the same thing happens in our kitchen in the morning that happens in other people's."
What exactly, then, goes on in Tori and husband Dean McDermott's kitchen in the morning? According to Tori, it's something most mothers are familiar with: controlled chaos.
"You know, we have our moments, and we're like, 'Oh, my gosh, it's overwhelming,'" she confesses. "It's hard with four young children, and we're both working parents. But you know, we get up in the morning, we get the kids ready for school, and we cook breakfast. It's pretty normal."
Of course, they aren't normal. They are, as Spelling said, working parents in Hollywood. As such, they have to deal with some decidedly not-normal things on a day-to-day basis.
Like the paparazzi.
"I think the paparazzi thing is something I'll never be comfortable with," she sighs. "I know it's a double-edged sword, because people say, 'Well, you share your life. You put yourself out there — you're in this business.' It's like, 'Yes, I am... but what we share is different from people infringing on that and not giving us an option.'"
Spelling chooses not to dwell on the negative, however. Instead, she channels her energy into her favorite family pastimes: crafting, cooking and entertaining.
"Oh, my gosh, we live for the holidays," exclaims the self-proclaimed Pinterest addict. "I mean, we make everything, and we just have such a good time baking and cooking, and it's like a daily thing."
In addition to baking and consuming copious amounts of cookies (Spelling doesn't believe in dieting over the holidays), her little family has an annual Christmas tradition she and the kids all look forward to.
"Every year, I have the kids make their own ornaments," she says, "and my goal is when they're adults, I'll have a big box of ornaments from the time they were little all the way through."
Although, she jokes, "With four kids, we're gonna have a lot of ornaments!"
As for big plans, the couple doesn't have any other than just being together.
"We've been working a lot this year, so it'll be nice to just focus on the kids."
Their time together, she says, will include things like finding snow to play in, laughing at their Elf on the Shelf's shenanigans and DIYing their own stockings.
"I'm just so grateful," she smiles. "I'm so blessed with my family. I feel like we have this amazing family unit. We're like a little rock band — we just move everywhere together and play together. I just want to enjoy them and have time together."
It's time she plans to relish now, as next year is shaping up to be just as busy for her family — if not more so — than this year has been.
The actress recently wrapped a pilot called Mystery Girls, co-starring her fellow 90210 alum Jennie Garth, for ABC Family. If it is picked up, it will premiere this spring — the same time of year she and McDermott's new HGTV series, Tori & Dean: Cabin Fever, debuts.
For now, Spelling is just looking forward to making salt-dough ornaments with her kids and hunting for their forever home.
"It took me a long time to get to the point — I talk about it in this book — that home is what you bring to it. It's not the place," she says. "'Cause I think I was always searching for the perfect family home, and my husband was the one who pointed it out. He was like, 'What are you searching for? We have everything right here.'"
Many of the items in her boutique are flea-market scores that lived briefly in her home before she decided to share them with the world.
"We could tell you where each piece has been and from what time period of my life [it comes]," she says.
While it's true Spelling and McDermott have had an impressive four babies since they married in 2006, don't expect them to pull a Brangelina and expand their brood anytime soon.
"We are feeling very complete right now — aka overwhelmed," laughs Spelling of life with Liam, Stella, Hattie and Finn.
Some celebrity clothing lines are cute, sure, but you'd also have to sell your firstborn to buy a piece from the line.
"That was the reason I really wanted to do Little Maven," explains Spelling, "because I wanted really stylish, super-fashion-forward clothes, but I wanted them to be super-comfortable and wanted them to be affordable." (Note: We are obsessed with this stuff!)
Spelling and Jennie Garth, her fellow 90210 alum, have already discussed the possibility of having other Beverly Hills High classmates make cameos should ABC Family pick up their Mystery Girls sitcom. "We'd like that," she hints. "We talked about it — we think so."
If you dream of being a domestic goddess like Martha Stewart with a fresh twist, you definitely want to check out Spelling's website, aptly called ediTORIal. There, she offers advice on everything from easy family meals to fearless fashion finds — it's like Gwyneth Paltrow's goop, minus the pretentiousness.
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