Kira Hesser Cook is a presence. The first time I met her, we stood amongst the twenty-yum flavors of Jeni's Ice cream at a chance meeting in Los Feliz and almost immediately the subject of Magic Mike XXL came up. We both had seen it recently and were a little more than enamored with the, ahem, choreography - especially the explosive (yup, pun intended) last scene. I could tell immediately that she was someone who gave you all of herself, right up front and with no hesitation. She is the rare breed of person who can put you at ease by simply just being herself. I liked her immediately.
Combine all of this with the fact that she is not only a presence but a force - voiceover actress, host of her own show, and contributing writer (check out my personal favorite piece of hers - an exploration of the sex lives of women 60+). Choosing her for this campaign was a no brainer! Read on below to learn a little more about this exuberant woman who attributes shopping for "Ass" presents with her Mom in high school as just one of the instances that influenced her present day joie de vivre for her life.
Did you have an ultimate 'Be Your Own Dream Girl' influence growing up? If so, who and why?


I can happily credit my mom with this one. She had the ULTIMATE style. She picked me up from school in a highlighter-bright orange leather motorcycle jacket everyday, which at the time I was mildly embarrassed by because I was weirdly into prairie gear and Laura Ashley for a good chunk of my childhood (I felt I should have been born on an 19th century petticoated frontier as opposed to a half a block away from Wrigley Field in the 80s). 

My mom didn't dress like any of the other moms. She never compared or dumbed down her style to fit those around her. She was modern, eclectic, and always super funky. She had Mia Farrow short hair, enormous glasses, a big laugh, a rubber chicken bolo tie that she wore over mostly everything that I THANKFULLY just inherited, boasted colorful printed dresses with insane belts and masculine-cut power suits, and generously showed me that beauty comes in every form. She didn't pray to the altar of the "overly done" beauty look. She was all about what was funky and fun and alive with personality. She showed me that clothes were the way to show on the outside what you're feeling on the inside.

Oh, and every time I broke up with a boy, she delighted in taking me shopping for an "Ass" present. That's something that sounds truly insane now that I'm typing it, but was the norm in my household til I left for college. Break up with a boy? Cover your ass in something new. Now that's a value I can get behind.

In your opinion, what is the most empowering thing about yourself? Or what is the most empowering thing that you have done for yourself?

I was a goof from the get-go, and my parents encouraged my boisterous, naturally outgoing personality. I'm unapologetically myself pretty much wherever I go, which is empowering. My husband says that an almost alien thing about me is that I'm never embarrassed: humiliation isn't a feeling I carry around in my front pocket, ready to wipe my face in.

I'm almost always the first on a dance floor, I love inquiring of strangers where they acquired whatever they're wearing, and I don't mind being goofy in public. I'd rather risk being seen as dopey rather than hang back. I suppose it comes from the question: Which is going to be more fun? I try to always do the more FUN thing.

I think it's what makes me a good host for Islands: I'm unafraid to approach and talk to any ol' body about any ol' thing. I love empowering the shyer, more introverted people around me in this way, too. I'm good at getting people to come out of their shells. It's more fun out here! 

If you could take yourself on a summer vacation anywhere, where would you go and why?

Hydra was the second island we ever filmed for the PBS travel series I host. It's a tiny car-less island off the coast of Greece, bright with painted stucco walls and rife with lamp-lit cobblestone alleyways. It's chockablock with artist expats: painters, poets, and musicians. Henry Miller lived there, as did Leonard Cohen.

I fell in love with that hot island 7 years ago and have been wanting to return ever since. I'd take a full two weeks and go rent an apartment there and eat octopus, tzatziki, and baklava for every meal, swim in the ocean from sunrise to sunset, read ten books, make more octogenarian Greek friends, ride a donkey up the mountain, see ancient Greek plays performed in its ancient outdoor amphitheater, and finish writing my novel in between ocean jaunts.

It's rugged paradise, untouched by modernity and one of the best-tucked travel secrets in the world. Meet you there next summer?

You can find more Kira here!:
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