Canadian Women

Lisa Ray

Photo by Javier Lovera

“Success is yours to define.”

Growing up global

Actress. Model. Advocate. Call her what you will, Lisa Ray is more than all three. From being the host of Top Chef Canada to the face of Rado Watches, her travels mimic the span of her career. “I like to think of myself as more boho than corporate,” says the self-proclaimed “covert type A,” who began modeling at 16 in India. “In reality, I have a strong work ethic.”

Core values  

In 2009, Ray was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. She established the Yellow Diaries, a blog that chronicled her experiences, and led her to explore concepts of beauty. Believing that the modern age suffers from ”pathology of perfection,” she embraced meaningful endeavours to inspire change. In a recent collaboration with Indian design house Satya Paul, Ray manifested her experience through silk and sequin. Her “Phoenix Rising” sari is one of many gorgeous creations, where portions of the proceeds are donated to Multiple Myeloma Research at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Diversity her strength

Known for her tenacious role as Sue (Sunita) Singh in Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood/Hollywood, Ray “proudly proclaims” her mixed heritage off screen. “I realized early on that my strength was my uniqueness,” she says of being born to Indian and Polish parents in 1970s Toronto. Ray aptly calls Canada a “cultural stew” that has shaped her outlook on life

Bright diamond

Ray ultimately serves all, be it culture or people. This year, she was recognized for servicing her country with a Diamond Jubilee Medal. “After leaving Canada at 16 to live in India, Europe and the States, I have discovered a new sense of purpose and stability in Canada, which helps me give back in more effective and meaningful ways.”

You can catch a stunning Ray as the lead role in the theatre performance of Taj, which will hit stages across Canada in late October and the new season of Top Chef Canada next year.

This piece was originally published in the FALL 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine


Rose Reisman

Photo by Javier Lovera

“Success is waking up every morning, loving what you do and not thinking you’ve ever worked a day in your life.”

The “Art of Living Well” is not a formula, but a philosophy

Opt for a Citrus Salmon Superbowl at the Pickle Barrel or discover a recipe for healthy chocolate cake. Thank nutritional guru Rose Reisman. She believes that “eating well isn’t about deprivation,” and is constantly searching for dishes both flavourful and healthy. Her Choose It And Lose It concept compares counter intuitive menu items from restaurant franchises and is a resource for real people on the go. “Life is such that we’re all going to end up in a fast food restaurant at some point during the week.” Reisman often finds salads that are twice the fat and calories than burgers and shares her collations on CityTV’s Breakfast Television, CityLine and in her daily Metro News column.

Palatable pages

With a roster of 19 books this fall, Reisman didn’t always write about health-conscious eats. In the 90s, the avid jogger was filling pages with decadent recipes, but her “cholesterol was off the Richter scale.” This inspired her to publish Rose Reisman’s Enlightened Home Cooking in 1996. It sold 75,000 copies in Canada with proceeds donated the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Fueling the cause

Rose Reisman Catering sponsored the 2013 Weekend To End Women’s Cancers, providing a total of 7,000 lunches in partnership with Pickle Barrel. Yet, the Art of Living Well truly shines at Glow Fresh Grill. The unique restaurant in Toronto’s Shops at Don Mills features a menu with Reisman’s light, seasonal picks.

Fall feasts

Reisman considers sweet potatoes “candy food” and tops her turkey breast with a cranberry apricot salsa. This season, she is boasting about a newfound favourite: Brussels sprouts. “I roast them in the oven with bell peppers and Parmesan cheese. They’re outstanding!”

Watch Rose Reisman “Choose It and Lose It” weekday mornings on Breakfast Television.

This piece was first published in the Fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine

Andi Petrillo

Photo by Javier Lovera

“Success is being happy with your accomplishments, big or small.”

From living room to screen

Growing up, Andi Petrillo didn’t understand why her father spent Saturday nights watching men pass a puck back and forth on television. Now, he watches her on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada. Raised by Italian immigrants, hockey became a “tradition in the household” and ultimately gave the Petrillo family a “Canadian identity.”

Versatility is key

During the 2012 NHL Lockout, Petrillo felt “crushed.” She says that, “For someone covering the sport, this iconic brand, you’re a little miffed that you can’t fulfill that.” Yet, it presented a new wave of opportunity for Petrillo to cover cross-country skiing with first-hand experience. “I swear I was out there for two hours but it was only twenty minutes,” she says of the challenge. “It gave me more of an appreciation and opened my eyes to other sports.”

Petrillo studied Broadcast Journalism at Seneca College/York, covering everything from politics to local news. That changed when her radio instructor noticed her passion for sports. “I back up my work. I do research. I have my contacts,” she says. “The minute you open your mouth and know what you’re talking about, you’re for real.”

Real life

In 2010, Petrillo traveled to Afghanistan to host a Default concert for Canadian troops. She reveled as the audience was “getting a break from the grind” of 24/7 war. But when the reporter and crew witnessed injured Afghan children at a nearby hospital, reality set in. Petrillo didn’t shy from delving into core issues – Journey to Afghanistan is a 30-minute documentary that captures the experience, which she shot and edited herself.

Learning from the pros

Petrillo has watched athletes prepare with “so much dedication, discipline and focus.” She applies these elements of practice before she goes on air. “The day that I don’t feel like doing it is the day I should push myself even more.”


Catch Andi on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada this fall or follow her @andipHNIC

This piece was first published in the Fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magzine

Angela Aiello

Photo by Patrick Lascina


“Success is in making goals, being driven and motivated to achieve your life’s vision, while understanding that fear and failure are a part of the journey. Success is having a dream and going for it!”

Tasting experience and undertones of passion

From growing up in the Niagara region to working at a winery at barely legal drinking age, Angela Aiello, 31, had no idea that she would be the founder of iYellow Wine Club – a social utopia for wine lovers worldwide. Today, bold glasses of Riesling and gentle flutes of Prosecco have weaved their way into every facet of her life. “It’s a perfect ménage of work, life, travel, and love,” she says, with the inclusion of her sommelier boyfriend. “Its here to stay and I’m not going anywhere.”

Bottleneck education

Aiello knew wine was the perfect fit while working at Vineland Estates as a teen. The ambitious young woman would later become a host at Peller Estates, simultaneously pursuing a Communications degree. The new grad moved to Toronto, working as a receptionist at a television production company, unaware of the real resume at her fingertips. With an unfulfilled palate and an insatiable thirst for a robust glass of pinot noir, Aiello established the iYellow blog. The list has grown to over 10,000 members to date.

Pinot Grigio with Asiago or Louboutin pumps with MAC Russian Red?

By teaching others about identifying grapes to pairing wine with food, Aiello equates wine with fashion, as it is the “perfect accessory” to lifestyle. When it comes to trends in the bevy world, she predicts that Port and aperitifs will make a comeback as post and pre-dinner drinks. Apart from opening up a bottle with sushi or dessert, Aiello believes sparkling wine is for every occasion. “Regardless of how the bubbles are made, whether it’s traditional or Charmatt, I use it in a lot of different ways,” she says, citing juice pairings or mixing with sangria. “You’re alive, so drink a glass of sparkling!”

A sip of the future.

Aiello says that many things she has premised in her life are “coming true,” and even sees her own wine label in the future. Wine is in her blood, as Aiello’s 85-year-old grandfather still makes wine in the traditional Italian way. The reason she hasn’t had the chance to make her own?

“I’ve been too busy drinking it!”

To learn more about iYellow, check out and

This piece was first published in the summer 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine

Tre Armstrong

Photo by Javier Lovera

Choreographer, Founder of A New DAEI (Dance Academy for the Entertainment Industry) Dance School.

“Success = failure + persistence + passion.”


Always kickin’ it

The choreographer mama and her seven-month-old son definitely share a passion for movement. What she calls a “hilarious birth,” the former So You Think You Can Dance Canada judge recalls back and forth treks to the hospital this January, reflective of her son’s groove. “The second he hears music, he’s doing the belly pop. He’s very rhythmic, so with any music or beat, he’ll catch it.”


Dancing past doubt

“At the age of 11, I wanted to give up on life and contemplated suicide,” Armstrong says of growing up in an abusive home. With a dream of becoming “Canada’s first ‘Blackerina,’” she faced scrutiny from instructors and peers before leaving dance at 17. In university, Armstrong cut the rug and said, “This is it. I’m going to be successful.” She established her dance academy with fellow choreographer Tonya Burke, and together, they are driven to elevate dancers into the entertainment industry. A New DAEI caters to all cultures by offering everything from belly dancing to hip-hop and a class for walking in heels.


Classroom cavort

Her innovative “Davatar” trading cards promote physical fitness by educating youth about dance moves, and are distributed within the Dufferin Peel and Toronto District School Boards across Ontario. The Youth Empowerment Tour is Armstrong’s latest choreography endeavour, where she will host a conference about “powering youth for success.” The project includes an online “iAM” campaign, which encourages celebrities and students of all ages to post a video that captures their potential.


Advising novice dancers

Armstrong believes that life is about decisions, even when we fail. She encourages her pupils to “choose not to lose.”

This piece was first published in the fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine

In conversation: Daniela Nardi’s Espresso Manifesto

Interview and words by Ola Mazzuca
Photo by Vanessa Heins

Coffee is a stimulant. Art is stimulating. Daniela Nardi is a blend of both. Espresso Manifesto is her caffeinated lovechild of global music scenes by sampling a taste of traditional and contemporary sounds.

Nardi’s mission to showcase her Italian heritage is fueled by an unconventional approach of hitting familiar notes in covers of Paolo Conte’s “Vieni Via Con Me” to her roots of electro-acoustic jazz. When she’s not working on her new album, the multi -instrumentalist is practicing for live performances.

This winter, Nardi will collaborate with acclaimed jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli in Toronto, and in March 2014, taking on Moscow, Russia at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. In between, she’ll be representing the “Chloe Woman” of the Verse at our Fall 2013 Gala on October 17. I caught up with Nardi to discuss her latest endeavours – be it French press or doppio, coffee will be required within the next few months.


Ola Mazzuca: What have you been up to?

 Daniela Nardi: I’m staying close to home for the next couple of months because I’m working on a new record. I’ll have more shows coming up in November and December, where I’ll be going to Montreal. Then, I’ll be doing a big show in Toronto at Koerner Hall, on December 7th. Next year, we have a Russian tour booked for March. So that will be rather exciting.

Can you spill any beans about the new album?

 It’s an ever-evolving process, but the idea that I have at the moment is to explore Italian songs. Most people can hum a Tarantella or “O Sole Mio,” but the mainstream culture doesn’t realize the vastness of songwriting. Popular song has its roots in Neapolitan song. What I want to do is really showcase that and go from the Neapolitan stuff all the way to the contemporary stuff like Jovanotti and one of my favourites, Gianmaria Testa, and really celebrate by writing my own songs in Italian, with English and mix it up a bit.

Speaking of Jovanotti, you met him last year at Luminato Festival.

Yeah, that’s right.

What was that experience like? You wanted to meet him for a long time.

 It was absolutely thrilling. I admire him and think he’s one of the rare contemporary artists with so much integrity. What you see is what you get. It’s not a show. He is the real deal. His writing is tremendous and the quality of his voice is so compelling and again, so real, that he’s the whole package. From the live shows, to the art and the work itself. For me, he’s a big inspiration and to shake his hand and to be able to say that to him was a check off my bucket list. The next on my bucket list is to be able to work with him, but one step at a time [Laughs].

You’ve experimented with so many genres and now you’re doing the whole Espresso Manifesto thing, where you’re writing or covering Italian music. Yet, you come from a background of electro-acoustic jazz. How has your music and style evolved over the years?

 I don’t know if it’s really evolved or if I’ve just gone in circles and explored things that interest me. You know what I mean? Jazz was something I studied when I was in university and I was interested in it, so I followed it. The whole world of electronica was something I was interested in, so I followed it. Now, Italian music is something I am interested in, so I went after it. I go down these roads that pique my curiosity and then I bring them back and throw it in my songwriting pot, mix it all up, and I see what happens.

Now that there’s time for you to explore cultural music in general, be it Italian or any other traditional genre, what kind of impact does that have on a North American audience?

I think they don’t realize that Italian music; especially Italian popular music, is comparable to other world music. People listen to Brazilian music, African, French and they just take it in and appreciate it. To be able to present it as a North American kind of shakes up their heads a bit and makes them realize that Italian music is another world music. I think that’s the impact that I find I’m having on audiences that are becoming aware of Espresso Manifesto. They’re curious because of the project name, and then when they hear the music, they say, “oh wow, I like this,” and it happens to be in Italian! That’s really cool to see people break stereotypes of what people thought of Italian music.

Amongst all of this, how would you define your sound today?

I would call it “Earthy, Modern, Pop, Jazz, World, Cool.” It just really has all of those elements. There’s a mixture of things in there. It’s contemporary, but there’s a part of me that’s a little retro. There’s a part of me that feels I was born in another time. That shows up every once in a while. But, it’s really music of today. How do we define any music today? I’m definitely not in a rock band, indie or straight up electronic. But I think a lot of artists are a combination of a lot of things. Does that make sense?

Yeah, completely.

It’s hard to define. If you had to put a big label on it, I would say that it’s pop music. It’s not straight up jazz or world. It’s modern.

Now that you’re pushing so many genre boundaries, why is this significant to your show at Koerner Hall?

It is really the first time that an Italian pop project like Espresso Manifesto will be playing at Koerner Hall. Anything Italian at Koerner Hall will be something classical, like an opera or ensemble. To be able to bring this project to more of a mainstream audience is really exciting. Now, we’ve broken the barrier a bit. Which is what we’ve always wanted to do. To be on stage with John Pizzarelli, who is part of the mainstream, is really quite cool. We’re manifesting our manifesto on a more mainstream stage.

Koerner Hall is a great venue. That should be very exciting. And in October, you’ll be performing at the Gala for CHLOE Magazine’s Fall issue launch.

It’s kind of the same thing. There’s so much integrity. A lot of great work has been put into this magazine. There’s so much substance, and to be able to be a part of this, to be able to perform in a place for people that probably wouldn’t listen to or know about is exciting. I can’t wait to see how they’ll react. It’s another fantastic opportunity to bring this music to a different audience.

Considering that our audience of female readers is so vast, what mark would you want to leave on other women experiencing your performance?

 To be authentic, to be who you really are and to not construct this persona that you think you need to be in order to please people or society’s ideas of what they think you should be. A big thing for me, too, is that women should come together and really celebrate one another. A lot of times, we can be against each other. We have insecurities that make us behave a certain way, but for women to come together and celebrate our strengths, skills and beauty, both inside and out, that would be fantastic.


Daniela’s Top 6

First live music experience
Engelbert Humperdink at the O’Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre for Performing Arts) in Toronto

First piece of music purchased
“Outlandos D’Amour” by the Police on vinyl.

Dish best paired with Espresso Manifesto
A warm mushroom risotto topped with truffle oil and a glass of Ripasso.

Favourite film
“81/2” directed by Federico Fellini.

Dream travel destination

The colour of Espresso Manifesto
A deep, rich, earthy burgundy.


This piece was first published in the Fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine

Priya Panda of Diemonds: Riding the wave of here and now

Photo by Marek Szkudlarek

Priya Panda likes her food hot. At Sneaky Dee’s, a Toronto institution for live music and Mexican fare, the lead vocalist of Diemonds orders two vegetarian tacos with rice, beans and salad. She asks for them “extra spicy,” so the waitress brings a bottle of their signature Habanero sauce.

Diemonds, a Toronto-based hard rock band, is supplying real “party rock” with heavy riffs and sixers of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Last year, the band played nearly 100 shows, but Panda yearns for more. As she digs into crunchy shells of cheese, avocado and tomato, she explains that her current appetite transcends what she eats for lunch.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to commit my life to, other than music, is travel,” the vocalist says. “I’m that much more hungry to write more songs, play better live and stay in better shape for the longer tours.”

With guitarists C.C. Diemond and Daniel Dekay to Tommy Cee on bass and Aiden Tanquada on drums, Panda is all about the party on Diemonds’ debut full-length, In the Rough, to their 2012 release, The Bad Pack. The band has supported Doro Pesch, Slash and Megadeth to holding their own with sets at Montreal’s Heavy MTL festival. But Panda feels that Diemonds’ most enriching experience to date is one that correlates with her Indian ethnicity.

“India was surreal,” she says of performing in Shillong, a remote area of the Meghalaya state. “Bollywood dominates and it’s hard to infiltrate live entertainment, but once you do, there’s a good response.”

Diemonds made their mark as the first female-fronted band to perform in Shillong. The band’s grandiose arrival was supported by the same outdoor stage Scorpions played two years prior, billboards all over town and a “shitload of people.”

Yet, Panda recalls only two women in an audience surrounded by a “weird atmosphere” due to political unrest between the city and its neighbour, Tibet. Guards armed with AK47s traveled with Diemonds to every location, including the mosh pit, where alternative dancing to heavy music was foreign for locals.

“I had to get out of the pit as soon as I felt the nose of an AK47 hit my back,” Panda says. “We weren’t in Kansas anymore.”

Despite the risks, Panda says that touring the country “legitimized the band” to her parents, who are natives of Bombay. They didn’t immediately embrace their daughter’s career, but their values are present in Panda’s every motive.

“I saw my parents work themselves to the bone, and I think that has completely had an impact on how much time, dedication and effort I have towards everything I do,” she says of household values.

As her parents encouraged her to find a career, Panda studied journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto with hopes of applying her interests to a full-time job. But with her mind on the stage, it was during this time that Panda discovered a passion for spicy food and feisty music.

She worked consistently, and her favourite part-time gig was at Taste The Fourth Sense, a store with over 200 types of hot sauce. Lydia Taylor, its co-owner, is a Juno-award winning musician and founder of the Lydia & Taylor band, a group Panda picked up while shopping for vinyl and Guns N Roses cassette tapes at her local Value Village.

The vocalist insists that you “can’t deny” the aesthetic of the band’s album cover for Appetite For Destruction. The brash imagery of a cross, adorned with skulls of each band member, left a permanent mark on the vocalist, inspiring her second tattoo at age 17: a pair of black pistols on her upper left arm.

This physical tribute is mirrored in Panda’s goal to “bring the fun back to rock and roll.” Diemonds’ raw, sonic approach is driven by various sub-genres and has evolved stylistically on The Bad Pack is with tracks like “Take On The Night” and “Get The Fuck Outta Here.”

“Our personalities are a big part of the band, which is something that was lost at some point when it was Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul,” she says of a similar bond Diemonds and KISS share. “It’s like a big family in the genre that we play, which is kind of sleazy, hard rock. There’s a whole new wave and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Being in an underground scene of resurgence has earned Diemonds high rank on an international scale. With their latest album released in Japan to performing at South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, and the band is crossing borders to bring their signature sound to a diverse audience through one passion-fueled goal.

“When we’re on stage, we’re bleeding for you,” Panda says of her greatest high. “When the crowd reacts, they put out 110 per cent of the energy we have given.”

Panda isn’t in the newsroom, but she’s telling another story about following her dreams. When Diemonds became her focus, she stopped worrying about expectations, income and monotony.

“We aren’t animals in a man made world,” she says. “We have desires beyond a piece of paper or what money can ever be quenched by.” With a Canadian tour this spring, writing a new album with Diemonds and scourging vintage stores for classic albums and denim jackets, Panda is going to need lots of water – and it’s not because of the Habanero sauce.

This piece was first published in the Spring 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine

Saidah Baba Taliba: True Colours

Photo by Wade Hudson

On a hot summer day at a studio in Toronto, Saidah Baba Talibah is getting her makeup done, clad in garments by American Retro and rocking Chanel combat boots. Her manager, David ‘Click’ Cox, sits nearby and is responding to an email.

“Would your mom be pissed if someone called her a blues singer?” he asks.

The content is for a book about blues. Talibah isn’t having it.

I wish my mom could talk right now. She’s not just a blues singer, she’s not just a jazz singer…”

Rather than succumbing to a sole label, the multi-instrumentalist, whose main tool is her voice, prefers to omit the word ‘genre’ from her vocabulary. Born and raised in Toronto, Talibah is one of the city’s most polytropic artists. She leaves eardrums ringing, wanting more, with an idiosyncratic mix of edgy, raunchy soul, but will always be the daughter of Salome Bey – “Canada’s First Lady of Blues.”

From being the frontwoman of 90s metal band Blaxam to her Chevy commercial hit, “Revolution,” Talibah believes that “whatever touches us, resonates with us,” regardless of chord and verse.

“We don’t listen to one type of music because those genres would not thrive. But because we are humans, we have to see certain colours or touch before we taste. That’s human nature, but if you don’t like it, keep it moving.”

Talibah is doing just that. Her next record is all about “finding your place, finding your voice and speaking your truth.” RedBlack&Blue, scheduled for release in 2014, is a sonic memoir of familial connection. The album’s concept is shaped by the influence of three women: Talibah’s mother, sister and daughter; and three animals: the red robin, Black Panther and blue butterfly. What the vocalist initially called a “crazy idea,” the animals aren’t necessarily symbolic of three people, and the context is neither good nor bad.

“It’s how they’ve influenced and inspired my life and how I have moved from that,” she says. “We are all dealing with different kinds of adversities and it’s about how we get through them.”

 The greatest challenge in Talibah’s life now is witnessing her mother live with dementia. Although Bey’s struggle has been an emotional journey, the singer believes that compressing inner battles isn’t a way to gain support and grow. For when she encounters rough waters, that’s when she finds clarity to write a good song.

But Talibah witnesses Bey on good days, too. The songstress that once belted “I Never Knew” can sing and groove when she’s present. This has taught her daughter the art of patience and gratitude.

“I miss my mother and miss spending time with her,” Talibah says, wiping water from her eyes. “I am learning to appreciate each moment as it comes as opposed to just taking it for granted because you can’t get it back.

When Talibah found out that her mother also had epilepsy, she was told to keep it on the down low. But the constant oppression of bottled-up frustration made her realize that RedBlack&Blue required the opposite. Hesitant to begin the project of raw, vocal expression, she valiantly decided to take the first step by discussing the issue openly in a status update on Facebook.

She pressed enter. Tears flowed. People responded.

“That’s when you figure out that there’s a thread that connects all of us. We all have to know that there is support.”

On the morning of the shoot, she walked by a homeless man asking for money, and realized: “How many emotions must you go through before you get to a place where you’re standing on a corner asking for help?” The artist now finds herself in his shoes, seeking the support of her fans to produce her next album.

RedBlack&Blue is funded by Pledge Music, a “direct-to-fan” project that assists the artist in creating the record while providing audiences with exclusive content. Talibah’s audience will choose up to six songs from three EPs – Red, Black and Blue – which will be narrowed down to 10 tracks for the final production.

(S)Cream, Talibah’s debut record, was also released through crowd funding. She has complete faith that RedBlack&Blue will be just as successful, if not more, as she reciprocates the support to a cause close to her heart

The artist will donate 10 per cent of the money raised to The Alzheimer’s Society of Canada. Talibah likes the format of Pledge Music because it shows a percentage, rather than a dollar, which “gives a sense of being a part of a big picture.” Currently over quota, things are looking pretty good.

The search won’t be over, even after the album is released. With a surname that means “seeker of knowledge,” Talibah lives up to her name in all aspects of life and is guided by her craft.

“It’s the ability to bring a sense of unconditional love to the surface,” her voice says with vigor. “That’s what I am seeking through music; talking with and connecting to people.”


This piece was first published in the Fall 2013 issue of CHLOE Magazine