Ali Landry Dishes on 'Horrific' Breakup With Mario Lopez and Finding Love Again
From Doritos pitchwoman to designing mom, Ali Landry's career -- and life -- is all about perseverance.
The former Miss USA 1996 is happily married to director Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and mother to their 3-year-old daughter, Estela. She's also celebrating the one-year anniversary of her children's clothing line Belle Parish, which will be featured for the first time at New York Fashion Week next month.
Landry, 38, has worked hard and endured public heartache to get to this place. In 2004, she wed longtime boyfriend Mario Lopez, but the pair split after two weeks of marriage. But, as Ali tells ParentDish, "That horrific ending got me to where I am today."
ParentDish: How has becoming a mother changed your outlook on Hollywood?
Ali Landry: Before I was going about my business and now it is all about Estela. Now I make more conscious choices since my work is an extension of me. I think about my legacy and think: Will Estela be proud of me and what can I teach her?
PD: You have been quoted as saying motherhood is a humbling experience. How so?
AL: With a child you deal with so much stuff. I remember when we were in public and she was in her hitting phase or when she was teething and she took a good chunk out of my shoulder. There was even the time she threw up on my clothes. You have to just let it go and live.
PD: How has Estela changed you as a person?
AL: Everything in my life changed once I became a mom. When you have a child, the focus has (to) become all about them. Estela has also taught me how to embrace my insecurities. For example, I enjoyed putting on weight when I got pregnant and letting my body do what it needed to do in order to have a healthy child. I actually cracked jokes about it, looking at myself in the mirror. I also didn't push myself to quickly lose the weight because I was more focused on enjoying her.
PD: Insecurities? You have insecurities?
AL: I go to bed every night thinking about a million things, the same things as everyone else does, so, yes, we all have them. I think about the fact I am getting older and does my skin look OK? I know I can't eat ice cream and cupcakes in bed anymore because I have to put my diet in check. But because of Estela I have gained a whole new level of confidence.
PD: You were briefly married to Mario Lopez and, unfortunately, that relationship had a horrible ending. How did that have an impact on you?
AL: That was a terrible situation and it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I have never been betrayed by someone like that. But, I will say, even though I never got an apology from him, it was the absolute best thing that happened to me because now I have a great husband who has the same values and the same morals as me. We walk on the same path and, as an added bonus, we have a beautiful daughter.
PD: Congrats on the one year anniversary of Belle Parish.
AL: Yes. I have always wanted to go into branding because it is something I am really passionate about.
PD: How did you come up with the name?
AL: Belle, as in southern belle, because I am from the South. And parish because I am from Louisiana and the state is still separated into parishes.
PD: Did becoming a mom influence you in starting your own business?
AL: Yes. After Estela was born my mom would send her all of these adorable clothes she handmade herself. I would also read stories in the Wall Street Journal about other people creating children's collections and then I thought this was a natural fit.
PD: Where is the company based?
AL: Out of my garage (laughs). But I love it because I am home for both Estela and my husband.
PD: Belle Parish is for children of what ages?
AL: Infant up to 4T. We figured after 4-years-old kids have their own opinion as to what they want to wear.
PD: Where do you get your inspiration to create these outfits?
AL: I dress children in age-appropriate clothing that celebrates each phase of their life. We also have a couture collection. For that we hired a professional to create a line based on what my partner envisioned it would look like. The Heirloom collection was inspired by pieces my mom designed for Estela all by herself.
PD: And you will be debuting your spring 2011 collection at Fashion Week on Sept. 12?
AL: Yes, we are so excited. We will show 19 different outfits that celebrity moms and their kids will model on the runway.
PD: Do you show Estela your creations and, if so, how does she respond?
AL: She is in major princess mode, so everything right now is sparkly with her.
PD: What does Estela give you that no one else does?
AL: She gives me extreme joy. It is the core of my being and I have never experienced anything like this feeling she gives me. She makes me laugh so much and she makes me not take life too seriously. She really brings out the best in me.
PD: Have you ever had one of those days where you just lose it and want to scream?
AL: Oh my god, I have those days and moments all of the time. I find myself saying how am I going to do this and balance this? Having those moments are normal.
PD: What has been your toughest challenge as a mom?
AL: Balance. Sometimes my husband gets the raw end of the stick and sometimes Estela does. But at the end of the day I say to myself tomorrow is a new day and I can't beat myself up over it.
PD: Sounds as if you love motherhood.
AL: Yes, so much so we are ready for another one.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.