Q&A with Clinton Kelly, Northwestern alum and co-host of ‘What Not to Wear,’ ‘The Chew’


Courtesy photo by Daniel Garriga

For two seasons, Clinton Kelly (Medill ‘93) has balanced co-hosting duties for both “What Not to Wear” and “The Chew.” He’s also completing a new book titled “Freakin’ Fabulous.”

Chelsea Sherlock, Writer

Clinton Kelly (Medill ’93) is co-hosting the TLC show “What Not to Wear” for the 10th season and is now working on his second season as a co-host of the ABC daytime show “The Chew.” Kelly recently spoke with The Current about his experience with the two shows, being a student at Northwestern and his favorite celebrities.

The Current: How did you go from hosting “What Not to Wear” to also being on “The Chew?”
Clinton Kelly: I was on “The View” a few times, mostly doing fashion segments, and the producer at the time was developing “The Chew.” “The Chew” isn’t just about food. It’s also about entertaining … I do cocktails, I do entertaining tips. I also do some of my favorite recipes. I love making women over and helping them realize how important fashion is. “The Chew” is really a reflection of who I am in my real life.

The Current: What was it like to meet one of your favorite celebrities, Olivia Newton-John, on “The Chew?”
CK: Olivia Newton-John was my first crush. I was really obsessed with her when “Grease” came out. I had all the albums. And then, when she was on “The Chew,” I was just stupid. I was giddy. I was so excited to meet her. When she emailed me the next day to tell me how much she enjoyed doing the show, I almost fell out of my chair.

The Current: Now that you’ve met Olivia Newton-John, who else do you want to interview?
CK: I’ve met my big three … Olivia Newton-John, JoBeth Williams and Vanessa Williams. Now that I’ve met those three, all the rest are gravy.

The Current: What was your favorite meal as a student?
CK: I was so incredibly broke as a grad student. What I would do is on Sunday, I would make a pot of soup, and then I would literally eat soup all the time, all the week. And then if I was lucky, I would buy a biscuit at KFC. 

The Current: What is the worst outfit you have ever seen?
CK: There have been so many, I’ve become numb.

The Current: What’s it like going from only having one co-host on “What Not to Wear” to having a larger cast for “The Chew?”
CK: Stacy (London, Kelly’s “What Not to Wear” co-host) and I had an immediate connection from our first audition together. It’s always been easy to have that chemistry. The same thing kind of happened with “The Chew,” to be honest with you. The five of us genuinely get along. I work with people I like and that’s easy.

The Current: How has your Medill training helped you?
CK: I would never be what I am today if it wasn’t for my Medill training … Back in ’92, magazines were exploding. I was able to leave Medill and seamlessly enter magazine publishing … The other thing Medill taught me was to think like a magazine editor. The mindset for producing a magazine is incredibly similar to the mindset for producing a television show.

The Current: What was your first job after graduating?
CK: I was an associate editor for a trade magazine about the sporting-good industry. It was basically copy editing a lot of articles about sneakers. It kind of bored me to death.

The Current: How has it been balancing “What Not to Wear” and “The Chew?”
CK: I wish there were more hours in the day. “The Chew” is really an hour of taping for an hour of television. “What Not to Wear” is four days of taping for an hour of television.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.